This dramatic news item appeared in The New York Times a week ago: according to a new study, the “hobbits” found in 2003 on the Indonesian island of Flores were almost certainly not human beings:
[T]he [new] findings complemented earlier research led by Dean Falk, an anthropologist at Florida State University who specializes in brain evolution. They used CT scans to create internal casts showing the shape of the brain from the impression it left on the inner surface of the skull. They concluded that the hobbit was a new species closely related to H. erectus and was not a human that had microcephaly.
In other words, just 30,000 years ago, the Earth possessed at least three distinct erect-walking apes: Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and hobbits (H. floresiensis). Here’s a bit more from the NYT:
The H. floresiensis fossils were found in 2003, buried in sediments in a wide-mouth cave known as Liang Bua. From that name came the LB1 label for the single cranium, which is no bigger than a grapefruit. The size suggests that the brain was less than one-third the size of a human’s. From other skeletal remains of eight individuals, the hobbits stood not much more than three feet tall, walked upright and were anatomically more primitive than H. sapiens.
Commenting on the new findings, University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne writes the following:
[T]he three-foot “hobbit” human whose remains were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has now been designated as a real species truly distinct from H. sapiens. This species lived fairly recently—38,000-12,000 years ago, when modern humans were already colonizing the New World—but is very distinct from H. sapiens. Because of its size and the resemblance of the skull to those seen in certain human diseases (hypothyroidism, microcephaly, etc.), some scientists speculated that this was not a tiny archaic species living at the same time as modern humans, but simply a single pathological individual of H. sapiens.
A new analysis by Baab et al. […] suggest however, that this really was a tiny hominin species.
Would somebody please tell me again how it is coherent, in the light of 21st century scientific discoveries, to be a young Earth biblical literalist? Were there Neanderthals and hobbits on Noah’s ark?