Feeds

Flores Hobbits were stunted humans

Cretin offspring of normal mothers, say Oz researchers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A group of Oz researchers has thrown its hat into the Flores "Hobbit" ring by claiming the diminutive inhabitants of the Indonesian island were not a new species at all but rather "cretin offspring of normal mothers".

The first Hobbit skeleton, dating back 15,000 to 18,000 years, turned up in a cave back in 2003. Its discovery provoked a lively debate as to whether it was nothing more than a dwarf human or the hitherto unknown Homo Floresiensis - a descendant of Homo erectus which shrank due to the natural process of "island dwarfing".

New species sceptics suggested the individual - a female dubbed LB1 - may have been a human suffering from microencephaly. Early in 2007, backers of Homo Floresiensis retaliated by presenting a CT scan of LB1's brain cavity, showing she did "did not have the characteristic traits of a microcephalic human".

In September 2007, detailed analysis of the wrist bones of LB1's skeleton showed they were "not quite the same as those of modern humans, and share some characteristics with older human species, and the great apes", something which backed the Homo Floresiensis theory.

However, scientists at the School of Applied Sciences at RMIT University in Melbourne have now claimed LB1 actually suffered cretinism - a condition of "severely stunted physical and mental growth due to a congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones" - provoked by her mother's "iodine and other dietary deficiencies".

The school's Peter Obendorf told Reuters: "We believe they were homo sapiens but with this disorder. The mothers would be iodine and selenium deficient and would be exposed to certain plant food that would release cyanide into the body."

Obendorf noted that LB1's community lived inland, and were therefore deprived of seafood - a good source of iodine. It probably subsisted on bamboo shoots and tubers, which "could have released cyanide into their bodies given the primitive cooking methods they were using".

Obendorf added: "We think the population was normal, but many of the women had goiter. In the middle of a drought, some were forced to eat unsuitable food ... and they had cretin children."

The researchers, whose findings are published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, conclude by noting that "certain structures of the fossils, such as the arm bone, matched descriptions contained in medical literature of cretin skeletons found in Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland".

Obendorf rested his case with: "The dwarf cretins in Europe have just the same structural rotation of the arm bone." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.