March 24, 2005


Fresh scandal over old bones (Dan Vergano, 3/21/05, USA TODAY)

Inside Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, the bones of the hobbit rested undisturbed for 18,000 years.

But no longer.

In what is being called a true case of scientific skullduggery, the remains of the newly discovered human species have suffered irreparable damage since entering the care of paleontologists.

The damage to the bones of this diminutive being — named Homo floresiensis and nicknamed hobbit by scientists — is so extensive that it will limit scholarly research on the species, say members of the Indonesian Center for Archaeology-based discovery team.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2005 5:31 PM

i hope they use those molds to come out with a line of hobbit mugs, cause i want one, bad.

Posted by: cjm at March 24, 2005 7:09 PM

In much the same spirit, our Pacific NW Indians fought for years to keep Kennewick Man ... who had either European or Ainu characteristics, dependng on which expert one consulted, from the paleontologists.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 24, 2005 9:21 PM

Yeah but, what about the whale with the leg?

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 24, 2005 10:41 PM

What's this about fraud? Where did that come from?

Posted by: creeper at March 25, 2005 2:44 PM

The fossils are damaged. They prove nothing. There is a divergence of opinion as to what they mean regarding human speciation. The desired conclusion, no matter how unsupportable by the facts, has been reported as true on the basis of this very weak evidence. It is misleading, unscientific and, if reported as conclusive of anything , fraudulant. Lies have a life of their own.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 26, 2005 11:56 AM

Tom C.,

Just in case that that was in response to my question: you make very valid points, but I don't see how they point to fraud. Sounds like some sloppy work and silly territorial disputes among some academics. It's a genuine pity that the fossils were damaged.

I just don't see the incentive for fraud in this case, certainly not from a die-hard creationist like Orrin Judd, who I'm guessing wishes to imply that these fossils were faked or planted to disprove creationism. If creationism can turn a blind eye to most of the fossil record, then what would be the incentive to add a fake 'hobbit' to the fossil record with the intent of weakening creationism?

I've only peripherally followed this issue, so perhaps either Tom or Orrin can fill me in on what the Big Lie is supposed to be.

Posted by: creeper at March 26, 2005 3:00 PM

Incidentally, is there any evidence that the fossils were faked? Just wondering.

Posted by: creeper at March 26, 2005 3:04 PM

No, the evidence has been destroyed before Archeopteryx II was exposed.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 4:09 PM


what do you think the fossils were supposed to prove, if they were indeed a fraud?

And is there any evidence that the fossils were faked?

Posted by: creeper at March 27, 2005 4:02 AM


Forget creationism for a moment. The darwinian theory regarding speciation is unprovable in any scientifiaclly meaningful way. Adherents to the theory have 'faked' evidence for as long as the theory has been around. Disagreements are grudgingly examined since the theory seems to be more important than the facts. The case of the 'hobbit' fossils seems to be more of the same. What kind of 'science' is this? It isn't. Something other than a disinterested search for truth motivates the research.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 27, 2005 12:20 PM

Tom C,

"Something other than a disinterested search for truth motivates the research."

That may well be, and I said as much earlier on. As far as accusations of fraud go, I detect in this instance neither evidence of these fossils being fraudulent nor plausible motivation to create fakes.

It's sloppy science given the way these specimens were treated, that's for sure, but I don't see the connection to the creationism/evolution debate, much as Orrin is trying to insinuate such a link.

I may be missing something, so feel free to enlighten me.

Posted by: creeper at March 27, 2005 12:43 PM

Even had the bones been real it wasn't a case of speciation, but it's amusing nonetheless.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2005 12:54 PM

"Even had the bones been real"

What am I missing here: is there anything to indicate that the fossils are faked?

Posted by: creeper at March 27, 2005 1:02 PM


The fossils are real, some of the published conclusions regarding the fossils are fake, unsubstantiated.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 27, 2005 1:28 PM

Thank you for the response, Tom. So Orrin was wrong when he said the bones weren't real. I figured he was bending the truth a little; either that or he had access to some amazing insider information that had not yet been made public.

So are the published conclusions fake or unsubstantiated?

Posted by: creeper at March 27, 2005 1:34 PM


Fraudulant rather than fake.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 28, 2005 11:05 AM


thank you for the clarification. So is it fraudulent or unsubstantiated?

And could you point me to the published conclusions in question?

Posted by: creeper at March 28, 2005 11:55 AM