The Hobbit and Our Self-Image
The Loom has a discussion on Homo floresiensis, AKA the Hobbit. One of the more interesting aspects of this find is how people have reacted. Some scientists are apparently very resistant to the shrinking human theory for the following reasons: 1) An animal with a brain as small as a chimpanzee could not deal with the range of tools that have been found on the site. 2) Brains of humans are like the speed of the cheetah. They are too valuable for survival reasons to be anything but optimal (as a species), and natural selection could never cause them to shrink.
Apparently even anthropologists can allow themselves to believe that evolution doesn’t happen to us.
The author, Carl Zimmer, tries to refute this line of thinking by bringing up a counter-example.
A better example was written twenty years ago by Kurt Vonnegut as a thought experiment. The book, called Galapagos: A Novel, places a remnant of the human race in an untenable situation, where de-evolution is the only way out. There are very satisfying parallels to the Hobbit story.
6/18/2005 11:56 PM