Reasons to Believe

Hobbit Walk Speaks Volumes

New research confirms biological differences between H. floresiensis and modern humans

The way a person walks says a lot about them. For example, someone who is confident will usually walk erect and briskly. Those who amble about with their hands in their pockets and shoulders hunched portray dejection.

Hominid’s various walking styles also say a lot about these creatures. Recently a team of anthropologists from State University of New York at Stony Brook reported on the gait of the hobbit-sized creature Homo floresiensis at the American Association of Physical Anthropology meeting held in Columbus, Ohio. Based on an analysis of a foot taken from the remains of a nearly complete specimen (known as LB-1 and dating around 18,000 years old), the researchers concluded that this hominid ambled about in an unusual manner.

These creatures, which stood just over three feet tall, had unusually large feet. This characteristic forced H. floresiensis to bend further back at the knees (more so than modern humans) when they walked, leading to a high-step march. The research team also noted another difference: The shape of H. floresiensis’ big toe was similar to that of modern humans, but ape-like in size.

The foot structure and gait of this creature represent one more piece of evidence that it was a hominid with strong kinship ties to Homo erectus. This interpretation has been recently challenged by several anthropologists who claim that these animals were actually microcephalic human beings. Other researchers have also suggested that these creatures were insular dwarfs and cretins.

The new analysis of the foot and gait of H. floresiensis, along with an ensemble of additional fossil and archeological evidences indicate that any interpretation of H. floresiensis as a diseased modern human lacks comprehensive support. It is unclear what a high-step march communicates in terms of body language. But for anthropologists it means that H. floresiensis wasn’t a modern human.

The biological and behavioral differences between modern humans and H. floresiensis find ready accommodation in the RTB model of human origins. This scientific theory of creation views the hominids as creatures made by God to possess some level of intellectual and emotional capacity. Still, according to the RTB view, these creatures lacked God’s image. The model predicts that the hominids should be biologically and behaviorally distinct from modern humans, and indeed that appears to be the case for H. floresiensis.

Subjects: Lucy and Other Hominids, TCM - Human Origins

Dr. Fazale Rana

In 1999, I left my position in R&D at a Fortune 500 company to join Reasons to Believe because I felt the most important thing I could do as a scientist is to communicate to skeptics and believers alike the powerful scientific evidence—evidence that is being uncovered day after day—for God’s existence and the reliability of Scripture. Read more about Dr. Fazale Rana