Archaeologists expel doubt on argumentative ‘hobbit’ theory

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A new investigate during a Micronesian funeral site might finally put a decade-long debate to rest.

Published in a general biography Antiquity, a University of Oregon study provides new justification concerning a beginning peoples of Palau and disproves claims of an ancient “dwarf” race inhabiting a archipelago. Palau is an island republic in a western Pacific Ocean.

Authored by UO archaeology highbrow Scott Fitzpatrick and connoisseur students Jessica Stone and Matthew Napolitano, a investigate takes emanate with progressing investigate conducted by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger in Palau’s northern Rock Islands. In a 2008 paper, Berger claimed to have unclosed stays of small-bodied humans during dual Palauan funeral sites and suggested that a stays forked to close-knit dwarfism, a materialisation in that physique distance decreases over generations in island-dwelling or differently removed populations.

Berger, a highbrow during a University of a Witwatersrand in South Africa, also argued that a Palau stays exhibited fundamental traits compared with some-more obsolete class of a classification Homo. Based on Berger’s descriptions, a stays came to be called “hobbits” in media reports on a research, in a curtsy to a illusory people in novels by British author J.R.R. Tolkien.

Berger’s conclusions done general headlines yet also drew pointy critique from archaeologists, quite those specializing in a investigate of island peoples.

Fitzpatrick has been among Berger’s many outspoken critics. Associate executive during the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and first co-editor of a Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, Fitzpatrick published a 2008 rejoinder to Berger’s study, indicating to several flaws including unsound representation distance and a miss of indispensable comparisons with fundamental stays from elsewhere in a region.

“What we unequivocally needed, though, was additional archaeological evidence,” Fitzpatrick said. “So in 2015 we set out to do a tranquil mine that mimicked a distance and chain of Berger’s study.”

Revisiting a Ucheliungs cavern site — one of a dual Palau locations Berger complicated — a UO group unclosed justification that casts grave doubt on a close-knit dwarfism question, including artifacts and food stays that Berger claimed were absent from a site.

“Island dwarfism formula from a accumulation of factors including siege from other populations and singular food resources,” Fitzpatrick said. “But a mine during Ucheliungs yielded pottery artifacts standard via a Rock Islands, that strongly suggests communication among these many communities. We also found a stays of different and abounding sea animals that would have been exploited as a abounding food resource. In effect, then, we have a different conditions indispensable to means a dwarfism that Berger asserts.”

Moreover, among a 200 mineralized tellurian bone fragments unclosed during their excavation, a authors found no pathological patterns indicating dwarfism and no justification of tiny physique size.

“In terms of distance and occurrence of pathology, a skeleton tumble definitively within a operation of what we see elsewhere in Palau,” pronounced Fitzpatrick. “Essentially, there is zero surprising about them, discordant to what Berger and his colleagues asserted.”

“The explain of close-knit dwarfism during a site has been disproven before, yet it’s still being cited,” pronounced Stone, a Antiquity study’s lead author. “Hopefully this helps to set a record straight.”

Source: University of Oregon

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