Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A super-mysterious human species!

In a cave in Indonesia, scientists have dug up some fossils of a totally new, extinct human species. Check out the skull on the left, resting on a mirror. These people were very short, about 3 feet tall, so people call them "hobbits."

"Great!" the scientists say, "Let's find out how they relate to other human species!"

And this is when the trouble starts. The bones of these small people look like earlier human species that only lived in Africa. What are they doing thousands of miles and oceans away in Indonesia? And what are they doing in rock that isn't nearly as old as their African cousins?

Scientist #1 says, "They're just regular humans like us with some kind of dwarfism or disease that makes them short."

Scientist #2 says, "No, no, no. They're a new species, and people just came out of Africa to Indonesia way sooner than we thought."

Scientist #3 says, "Naw, you're both crazy. The humans who lived in Indonesia at the time just evolved to be smaller."

Then the three scientists get into a fistfight. Dust flies everywhere in that cave in Indonesia.

Who is right? I sure as heck don't know, but I love to follow these scientific free-for-alls. In a few years someone will probably figure out a story that fits the fossils best, and then everybody will move on to the next mystery.

Read more about the hobbits in this New York Times article today. That's where the image above is from.

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