Talk:Homo floresiensis

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Copyright problem removed[edit]

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LB1 hoax?[edit]

Some scientists assert that LB1 is a fraud in the vein of Piltdown, or some sort of fossil misidentification. Yet this is not mentioned on the page. Henneberg and colleges have made the claim for example LB1 is less than 100 years old and contains a modern dental filling (Henneberg and Schofield, 2008). FossilMad (talk) 14:47, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes, there are arguments that it is has been misidentified as a distinct species. That's covered in detail. No-one outside of fringe fantasists has ever suggested it was a hoax or fraud as far as I am aware. As for the "filling" - first I've heard of it. The skull has been extensively studied, so I've no doubt something like that would have spotted long ago. Paul B (talk) 14:52, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Here's a source: [1] "If Henneberg is right, the hobbit cannot be 18,000 years old, because only modern cultures do this kind of dental work. He wanted to see the bones again to test his idea, but his group has been denied access to the specimen by the Indonesians now in charge of it, because the discovery team is still analyzing it. "Access to the [original] specimens could have settled the tooth question ... in minutes," Henneberg says. So he made his claim not in a meeting or paper but in a book published last week and in hallway chat at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists meeting in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this month.
The idea spread around the blogosphere this week and sparked a furious response from, among others, Peter Brown of the University of Adelaide, who was part of the team that originally reported the hobbit. Brown calls the claim "nonsense" and says, "I cleaned the teeth of LB1 using brushes and soft probes. There was no filling." FossilMad (talk) 14:51, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Well that's from 2008. There have been many studies since then. Seems like a storm in blogspot. Paul B (talk) 14:58, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Henneberg and Schofield revised their book in 2010 [2] (responding to Peter Brown) and defend the claim about the modern dental filling. Since 2010, I can only find one study on the topic from 2011. On dental wear, dental work, and oral health in the type specimen (LB1) of Homo floresiensis Am J Phys Anthropol. 145(2):282-9. While this study claims that the dental filling claim has been falsified, Henneberg points out that this cannot be verified unless the original specimen is analyzed. FossilMad (talk) 16:12, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
The article you link to says "The claim that the lower left first mandibular molar of LB1, the type specimen of Homo floresiensis, displays endodontic work, and a filling is assessed by digital radiography and micro-CT scanning." That can only be done on the original specimen. There's no point doing digital radiography on a cast! So, yes, it has been refuted. It was a pretty silly claim to start off with. If it had been a major reason for scepticism, it might still have been worth including. But this seems to be one person's idiosyncratic idea. And even then, it has nothing to do with claims of "fraud in the vein of Piltdown", as you first asserted. Paul B (talk) 17:51, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

The filling story is briefly mentioned and dismissed in Chris Stringer's 2011 Origin of our Species, p. 82. Most palaeontologists accept that floresienis is genuine, and the views of the minority of sceptics are covered in more than adequate detail. Dudley Miles (talk) 17:26, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

I should have clarified: Henneberg and his colleagues have been denied access to LB1. That is why they dispute the claim the dental filling has been falsified. If you read their book Hobbit Trap they basically are hinting at a sort of conspiracy. Here's a review of the book: "They invoke the famous Piltdown forgery as an apriori rationale for questioning the authenticity of Homo floresiensis; they claim there are nonrandom errors and a "misleading pattern of removing evidence that disagrees with the 'new species' theory and reported dating"; they implicate "poor Indonesians" as potential sources of "fraud", and they wonder if the Indonesian Government is undermining scientific integrity for national interests." http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/news/hobbit-nay-sayers-fail-to-overturn-theories/story-e6frg8no-1111116985220 FossilMad (talk) 18:20, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

As I say, that's obsolete. A 2011 article can't be refuted in a book published in 2010. None of the reviews I have read of this book say anything about claims of fraud of conspiracy. You seem to be reading these "hints" yourself. Indeed most of the reviews I've seen are less than flattering about the book. After all it was Indonesia's own senior anthropologist, Jacob, who was the principal sceptic, and who was the one who took the specimins. Furthermore, these studies are not undertaken by the Indonesian government, but by respected scientists in serious scholarly journals. Paul B (talk) 18:45, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Re-read that section you quoted, and your description. Henneberg et al. "hint at a sort of conspiracy", the "invoke", they "claim", they "implicate", and they "wonder". In other words, in the absence of evidence, they speculate. That source deserves nothing more than a passing reference in relation to the larger disputing views. - Boneyard90 (talk) 13:43, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Peter Brown's refutation of the filling theory on his website would have been helped if he'd heard of the phrase "cast aspersions": "He has used this claim in an attempt to cast dispersion on the peer reviewed research conducted at Liang Bua" [3]. Oh dear Peter, what did they teach you in English class? Paul B (talk) 15:18, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
The entire field of paleontology is speculation is it not? "Henneberg, Eckhardt, and Schofield express concern that paleoanthropology, as a discipline, is not fundamentally engaged with doing good science. Instead, they claim, paleoanthropology panders to the academically politic forces of grant-grubbing as validation for scientific endeavors and interpretation of fossils". [The Hobbit Trap Reviewed by Lyia Pyne http://www.paleoanthro.org/static/journal/content/PA20110195.pdf] I think the filling dental claim should be covered in detail. FossilMad (talk) 16:37, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
I think it's ridiculous nonsense that has been thoroughly refuted and which even its progenitor thought would not be taken seriously. It has never been published in a peer reviewed journal and the book in which it appears has had generally bad reviews. The quotation you repeat has no relevance to the topic at all. Everyone in academia complains about funding mechanisms being unfair. So what? The review you link to in your 18:20 5 June post is devastatingly dismissive. You clearly have no support for adding this. However, if you wish to seek outside comments you may do so via Wikipedia:Requests for comment or submit a Wikipedia:Dispute resolution report (though that seems premature). Paul B (talk) 16:44, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

I agree that there is no case for covering the filling claim. It is dismissed by leading palaeontologists and it appears to be speculation rather than a peer reviewed thesis. Dudley Miles (talk) 17:29, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Before we go on, I feel it necessary to point out to everyone that Paleontology is the study of non-hominin fossil organism, including dinosaurs. Paleoanthropology is the study of ancient humans, that is, all hominins extant and extinct, as well as other primates in our evolutionary ancestry. We should be referring to paleoanthropologists, or in the interest of brevity, "anthropologist" is a suitable inclusive term, as many anthropologists who do not specialize in paleoanthropology write notable academic papers on the topic of ancient hominins. - Boneyard90 (talk) 20:25, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Fine, but does that help us any? According to the relevant page Paleontology is the "scientific study of life existent prior to, but sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch", which, if H. floresiensis lived c.94,000 to 13,000 BP, would, include our little friends. Yes, it's a hominim, but since Paleoanthropology "combines the disciplines of paleontology and physical anthropology", I see no reason to cast dispersion on the term in this instance. Paul B (talk) 20:46, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Down syndrome explanation[edit]

I claim no expertise in this field, so will not presume to edit the article directly. But I noticed this news coverage of two articles recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which seem to argue that this skull represents an Homo sapiens individual with Down syndrome, with a stature, abnormal skull variations and brain size consistent with modern individuals with that condition and indigenous to that island. Should this alternative explanation be included in this article? Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:17, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Yet another theory by the sceptics. It might be worth mentioning, but it should not be given undue weight so long as the great majority of experts continue to accept floresiensis as a genuine species. Dudley Miles (talk) 09:53, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
It's Henneberg et al again, coming up with yet another theory. I guess the denture idea got a filling. Still, it's worth a mention. Paul B (talk) 16:25, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
That's puzzling, since these news sources claim that there is only one individual represented by these finds, where in fact, there are several. Kortoso (talk) 19:30, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
The latest claim is that only one individual (LB1) is abnormal, but the others, they believe, are not. The authors are the same people who wrote The Hobbit Trap in 2010 [4], and have be trying to prove it's not a real species for years. Paul B (talk) 21:37, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Here's coverage from Science Daily which may be a better source, and it fully cites the two articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:53, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Substandard[edit]

After having read this article on 'Homo floresiensis' I must surmise its topic is not H.Floresiensis, but rather the LB1 specimen and its surrounding controversy. Reading it left me with the awkward sensation of being a witness to a dispute instead of having gained a degree of topical information. I would suggest a separate page is made that handles the LB1 specimen specifically or that the disputes are gathered in a section rather than pervading the entire article. This page has a distinctly substandard feel to it and should definately be revised. ```` — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.169.42.228 (talk) 00:09, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't follow your argument. H.Floresiensis is, essentially, LB1. What would the article be about if it were not about LB1 and the debate about it? It's not as if we known anything about their culture, or language. Paul B (talk) 00:32, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
That's not entirely accurate; we know something about their culture. Associated faunal remains suggest that floresiensis hunted the dwarf elephants and Komodo dragons (Lieverman 2009). However, I agree that the debate should be included in the article. And I also agree that whoever reads or wants to learn about the controversial floresiensis remains, is almost immediately invited to take sides in the controversy. - Boneyard90 (talk) 14:38, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
That they were hunter-gatherers is fairly basic. I guess it could be called "culture" in a very broad sense, but I meant we know nothing about culture that's distinctive to them. The fact they hunted local animals is hardly distinctive. Pretty nearly every culture in the world does it, and it is already present in the article. If the IP could say what "topical information" they think it missing, it might help. Paul B (talk) 17:29, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Elaboration on Down syndrome hypothesis[edit]

This page goes into strong detail about many of the proposed hypotheses for the origin of H. floresiensis, but the 'Down syndrome hypothesis' section is a little neglected (likely due to the recentness of the proposal). I have three suggested areas of improvement:

1. More details should be included about the specific physical attributes which led researchers to believe Down syndrome was the pathology at work (i.e. facial asymmetry, endocranial volume, brachycephaly, flat feet)

2. It also might be important to include that the researchers found previous published measurements regarding stature and endocranial volume were biased downward; their corrected measurements actually put Down syndrome within the realm of possibility.

3. Also to be discussed is the fact that the projected statures of LB1 and other associated specimens are within the normal ranges for this region, though indeed at the low end. On the other hand, the endocranial capacity of LB1 is several standard deviations below the norm (which would suggest a developmental pathology such as Down syndrome).

--Horbaly.5 (talk) 16:31, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Horbaly.5, I look forward to your expansion of this section (though I don't myself subscribe to the hypothesis). Regarding your point 3, however, you'll need to deal with the issue that it only logically applies if LB1 is presupposed to be H. sapiens. If LB1 is actually a non-pathological specimen of a different species, there is no reason to expect its endocranial capacity to fall within the sapiens norm: presumably the original papers address this point. (FWIW, my money is currently on floresiensis really being a directly derived Australopithecus rather than descended via Homo.) {The poster formerly known as 87.81.230.195} 212.95.237.92 (talk) 15:34, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

Pov in lead[edit]

The first sentence states "Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"; nicknamed "hobbit" and "Flo") is widely believed to be an extinct species in the genus Homo." I don't think we should be saying that. Most of the lead seems to be pushing the separate species article. And finally, too many paragrahs, 4 is the normal maximum. See WP:LEAD p

Why don't you think so? Yes, there are nay-sayers. No-one disputes that. Of course the fact that there are so many alternative theories, even those that are no longer credible, means they get a 'disproportionate' amount of coverage, but that may be inevitable. Paul B (talk) 23:05, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
I see no POV issue. It's pretty well established among the majority of anthropologists that H. floresiensis is a separate species. You can cite a few diehards that are against the idea, but they are a minority, and they're not even unified on how to classify the recovered specimens. Besides, the article title pretty much establishes the Flores hominins as a separate species. So if nothing else, the lead sentence isn't describing the hominin specimens, so much as defining the term Homo floresiensis. But again, no POV. - Boneyard90 (talk) 13:17, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Ok, I can see that this backs the lead. I'm still not sure that the dispute should be so low. Does [5] about the actual origin need to be used? Dougweller (talk) 16:54, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
The phys.org source is a report of the original Nature piece at [6], so it would be better to use that. Presumably if Stringer is right, it should really be Austrolopithecus floresiensis! Dudley Miles (talk) 17:13, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
It's amazing enough to find a direct descendent of H. erectus at such a late date, but a member of genus Australopithecus, with a 2+ million year gap between the last agreed on member of Australopithecus and sp.floresiensis? That's not just ridiculous, it lacks even a shred of credible evidence to support it. - Boneyard90 (talk) 21:17, 29 November 2014 (UTC)