Are the small human-like fossils found on Flores human endemic cretins?

Peter Obendorf, Charles Oxnard, Ben KEFFORD

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    64 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Fossils from Liang Bua (LB) on Flores, Indonesia, including a nearly complete skeleton (LB1) dated to 18 kyr BP, were assigned to a new species, Homo floresiensis. We hypothesize that these individuals are myxoedematous endemic (ME) cretins, part of an inland population of (mostly unaffected) Homo sapiens. ME cretins are born without a functioning thyroid; their congenital hypothyroidism leads to severe dwarfism and reduced brain size, but less severe mental retardation and motor disability than neurological endemic cretins. We show that the fossils display many signs of congenital hypothyroidism, including enlarged pituitary fossa, and that distinctive primitive features of LB1 such as the double rooted lower premolar and the primitive wrist morphology are consistent with the hypothesis. We find that the null hypothesis (that LB1 is not a cretin) is rejected by the pituitary fossa size of LB1, and by multivariate analyses of cranial measures. We show that critical environmental factors were potentially present on Flores, how remains of cretins but not of unaffected individuals could be preserved in caves, and that extant oral traditions may provide a record of cretinism.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1287-1296
    Number of pages10
    JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
    Volume275
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    Congenital Hypothyroidism
    Caves
    Fossils
    Indonesia
    Brain
    hypothyroidism
    fossils
    fossil
    disability
    skeleton
    cave
    brain
    Dwarfism
    environmental factor
    dwarfing
    Bicuspid
    Hominidae
    Homo
    new species
    Wrist

    Cite this

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    title = "Are the small human-like fossils found on Flores human endemic cretins?",
    abstract = "Fossils from Liang Bua (LB) on Flores, Indonesia, including a nearly complete skeleton (LB1) dated to 18 kyr BP, were assigned to a new species, Homo floresiensis. We hypothesize that these individuals are myxoedematous endemic (ME) cretins, part of an inland population of (mostly unaffected) Homo sapiens. ME cretins are born without a functioning thyroid; their congenital hypothyroidism leads to severe dwarfism and reduced brain size, but less severe mental retardation and motor disability than neurological endemic cretins. We show that the fossils display many signs of congenital hypothyroidism, including enlarged pituitary fossa, and that distinctive primitive features of LB1 such as the double rooted lower premolar and the primitive wrist morphology are consistent with the hypothesis. We find that the null hypothesis (that LB1 is not a cretin) is rejected by the pituitary fossa size of LB1, and by multivariate analyses of cranial measures. We show that critical environmental factors were potentially present on Flores, how remains of cretins but not of unaffected individuals could be preserved in caves, and that extant oral traditions may provide a record of cretinism.",
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    Are the small human-like fossils found on Flores human endemic cretins? / Obendorf, Peter; Oxnard, Charles; KEFFORD, Ben.

    In: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences, Vol. 275, 2008, p. 1287-1296.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Oxnard, Charles

    AU - KEFFORD, Ben

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