Sunday, 3 October 2010

New research: Hobbit was a modern human suffering from iodine deficiency

Did Frodo and Sam suffer from iodine deficiency?

Joel Kontinen

The debate on the status of the Hobbits or Flores Men has been quite lively in the past few years. (You can read more here, here and here.) According to fresh research, the Hobbit was not a distinct human species but a true H. sapiens suffering from iodine deficiency.

Found on the Indonesian island of Flores, the diminutive Hobbits were named after the heroes of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth story.

Recently, Charles Oxnard, an emeritus professor at the University of Western Australia, and colleagues published a paper in PloS ONE, comparing the bones of humans suffering from cretinism, chimpanzees and healthy humans to those of Hobbits or Homo floresiensis. The study suggests that Hobbits were H. sapiens whose small size probably resulted from cretinism caused by iodine deficiency.

In 2008 Professor Oxnard and colleagues examined the Hobbit skull. According to ScienceDaily they found out that it ”showed evidence of endemic dwarf cretinism resulting from congenital hypothyroidism and were [sic] not a new species of human.”

More recently, Oxnard and his colleagues tested their theory by examining the post-cranial skeleton of Hobbits. The study supported their view.

Earlier last month another research team also found evidence for the theory that Hobbits are fully human.

Robert Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Pennsylvania State University, and Maciej Henneberg, professor of anthropological and comparative anatomy at the University of Adelaide, examined the skull of the Hobbit known as LB1 that was found in the Liang Buan cave on Flores and published their findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Professor Eckhardt criticises the approach of some researchers who have classified the Hobbit as a distinct species on the basis of a single asymmetrical skull instead of seeing it as a deformed H. sapiens skull.

Eckhardt adds that although LB1’s braincase was badly asymmetric, this does not make Hobbit into a species distinct from H. sapiens.

According to professor Eckhardt, there still are people on the island of Flores who resemble Hobbits. The jaw and teeth of present-day Floresians hardly differ from those of Hobbits although they have a bigger and more symmetric skull.

Commenting on his research, professor Oxnard says: "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."

Professor Oxnard points out that cretinism is still quite common in Indonesia, including the island of Bali that is not far from Flores.

Seen from the creation perspective, the research results of these two Hobbit studies were expected. All people are the descendants of Adam. As the apostle Paul said, ”The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth … From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” (Acts 17:24, 26).


Researchers offer alternate theory for found skull's asymmetry. .(6 September 2010).

'Hobbit' Was an Iodine-Deficient Human, Not Another Species, New Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. (28 September. 2010).