Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bones of contention?

You have no doubt been hearing about the "hobbit" human whose bones were recently discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia. (I will be writing about it at length in my next Musing.) This close human relative apparently survived alongside our own species until very recent times, about 12,000 years ago.

I have been struck by how little caution is expressed by the popular media. It's as if the interpretation of the bones offered by their discoverers is a done deal.

Not so. Controversies among scientists have already begun. One skull and a scattering of bones does not a new species make.

If the discovery is confirmed by further findings, it will indeed be a stunning new chapter in the story of human origins. For the time being, take what you read (in my Musing too) with a grain of salt.