In the latest round of controversy over Flores man (ka “The Hobbit”), “Hobbits Were Brain Diseased Modern Humans” holds the floor against “Hobbits were a different species,” according to Creation-Evolution Headlines (August 08, 2011):
Using MRI, a team of three anthropologists from New York University and Columbia University measured craniometric ratios for 21 age-corrected skulls infants with microcephaly, with 118 normal skulls for control. In addition, they measured skull bones of 10 microcephalic individuals, 79 anatomically modern humans, and 17 Homo erectus specimens. These were compared with two skulls of the so-called Hobbits from Ling Bua cave 1 (LB1). The results put pressure on those who maintain that the Hobbits represent an evolutionary transitional form prior to the emergence of modern humans
According to the analysts,
Te findings showed that the calculated cerebral/cerebellar ratios of the LB1 endocast [Falk D, et al. (2007) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:2513–2518] fall outside the range of living normocephalic individuals. The ratios derived from two LB1 endocasts also fall largely outside the range of modern normal human and H. erectus endocasts and within the range of microcephalic endocasts. The findings support but do not prove the contention that LB1 represents a pathological microcephalic Homo sapiens rather than a new species, (i.e., H. floresiensis).
Of course no one can “prove” that tiny Flores man was a microcephalic but otherwise normal human. But it looks increasingly like that is the reasonable interpretation. If they lasted as long as they did, it must not have been fatal.
See also: Human evolution: Now “the Hobbit” may revise “major tenets of human evolution”?