As the debate rages on about whether Homo floresiensis - so called 'Hobbit' - fossils discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 represent a separate human species, researchers currently in the process of describing and analysing the remains will all be in the same place at once to advance the discussion on Tuesday, 21 April, during the 7th Annual Human Evolution Symposium at Stony Brook University. Convened by Richard Leakey, the world renowned palaeoanthropologist who is a Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University, the public symposium, 'Hobbits in the Haystack: Homo floresiensis and Human Evolution,' is hosted by the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook.
'During the Hobbit symposium, we will do our best to separate fact from myth on many of the controversial issues surrounding this prehistoric hominin which has gained international celebrity status,' said William Jungers, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook.
Nicknamed 'Flo' and referred to as a 'Hobbit' due to its brain size (about a third of the size of modern humans) and small physical stature, the enigmatic Homo floresiensis has emerged as one of the most fascinating and perplexing twists to the story of human evolution in recent history. Dated to only 17,000 years ago, these 'hobbits' possessed a shocking number of primitive morphologies more reminiscent of earlier Homo erectus or even Australopithecus, than modern humans.
Among the researchers presenting are Michael J. Morwood from the University of Wollongong, Australia; Thomas Sutikna from the National Research and Development Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta; Mark Moore, University of New England, Australia; Dean Falk, Florida State University; Peter Brown, University of New England, Australia; Matthew Tocheri, of the Smithsonian Institution; Susan Larson, Stony Brook University; William Jungers, Stony Brook University; and, Charles Hildebolt, Washington University in St. Louis.