Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reading the bones

A study released this week has found that the so-called 'hobbit' skeleton discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004 did indeed belong to a distinct and hitherto unknown species of human, and not to a group of Homo Sapiens afflicted by dwarfism and a brain disorder, as some cynics had claimed.

The posthumous recognition of Homo Florosiensis counts as good news, not only because it makes the world and its history more fascinating, but also because it will help to destroy the myth that human evolution has proceeded in a gradual and orderly manner, with one species giving way to another until something resembling perfection is reached with Homo Sapiens. I've argued that this model of evolution has been applied, often by self-proclaimed Marxists, to the study of the history of Homo Sapiens, with disastrous results. And if you think the Marx-quoting teleologists are a thing of the past, take a look at a couple of the comments under this recent post at Dave Osler's blog.

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