Washington, Sep 29 (ANI): The debate over the origins of so-called Homo floresiensis-the 'hobbit'-has been re-ignited as scientists have claimed that it was nothing but the iodine-deficient species of human.
Charles Oxnard of the University of Western Australia's Emeritus and his colleagues have reconfirmed, on the post-cranial skeleton, their original finding on the skull that Homo floresiensis in fact bears the hallmarks of humans-Homo sapiens-affected by hypothyroid cretinism.
The remains, allegedly as recent as 15,000 years, were discovered in 2003 in the Liang Bua caves on the Indonesian island of Flores by archaeologists seeking evidence of the first human migration from Asia to Australia.
When Professor Oxnard and fellow Oz researchers suggested in 2008 that the skull showed evidence of endemic dwarf cretinism resulting from congenital hypothyroidism and were not a new species of human, their claim caused controversy.
In order to test their thesis, Oxnard and his team have summarised data on the rest of the skeleton and mathematically compared the bones of cretins in relation to chimpanzees, unaffected humans and H. floresiensis.
They used two methods with different statistical bases: principal components analyses (PCA) and non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (MDS).
Their work has confirmed the close grouping of H. floresiensis with the hypothyroid cretins, and the clear separation from both modern humans and from chimpanzees.
This has lead them to conclude that the Liang Bua remains were indeed most likely cretins from a population of unaffected H. sapiens.
"This is consistent with recent hypothyroid endemic cretinism throughout Indonesia, including the nearby island of Bali," Science Daily quoted Oxnard as saying.
"Cretinism is caused by various environmental factors including iodine deficiency-a deficiency which would have been present on Flores at the period to which the dwarfed Flores fossils are dated," he added.
The findings appeared in a paper in PLoS ONE. (ANI)