(Image: Peter Brown)
I wanted to be an anthropologist or archaeologist when I was a kid. I was fascinated with Native American and ancient Egyptian cultures, and wanted to be Mary Leakey (the famous female anthropologist) when I grew up.
So I just salivate when I hear news that a prehistoric skeleton of a new species was found. How exciting to discover a new human ancestor! I'm amused how the British, Indian, Australian and South African press are comparing the new species to hobbits. The British (and their former colonies) sure love J.R.R. Tolkien.
Here's a snippet from the AP wire story about Homo floresiensis or Flores Man, Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton.
Oct 27, 2004 — In an astonishing discovery that could rewrite the history of human evolution, scientists say they have found the skeleton of a new human species, a dwarf, marooned for eons in a tropical Lost World while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.
The finding on a remote Indonesian island has stunned anthropologists like no other in recent memory. It is a fundamentally new creature that bears more of a resemblance to fictional, barefooted hobbits than modern humans.
Yet biologically speaking, it may have been closely related to us and perhaps even shared its caves with our ancestors.
The 3-foot-tall adult female skeleton found in a cave is believed 18,000 years old. It smashes the long-cherished scientific belief that our species, Homo sapiens, systematically crowded out other upright-walking human cousins beginning 160,000 years ago and that we've had Earth to ourselves for tens of thousands of years.
Instead, it suggests recent evolution was more complex than previously thought.