Sat Nov 6, 8:35 AM ET Science - AFP
JAKARTA (AFP) - A leading Indonesian scientist challenged the widely publicised theory that fossilised bones found on the eastern island of Flores were from a previously unknown species of human.
Professor Teuku Jacob, chief palaeontologist from the state Gajah Mada University, will carry out tests to prove the fossils are from a sub-species of homo sapiens -- "an ordinary human being, just like us".
"It is not a new species. It is a sub-species of homo sapiens classified under the Austrolomelanesid race. If it's not a new species, why should it be given a new name?" the professor said.
Australian scientists last month made world headlines by announcing the discovery of a new twig in mankind's family tree, 'homo floriensis', a one-metre (3.25 foot) hominid with a grapefruit-sized skull.
Their theory, published in the British weekly scientific journal Nature, was that it was the smallest of the 10 known species of the genus Homo, the hominid that arose out of Africa about 2.5 million years ago.
Jacob said his team will aim to prove that the skeleton is from a 25-30-year-old omnivorous sub-species of man, not a 30-year-old female from the new species as previously announced.
They believe the skeleton's small skull is related to mental defects rather than being evidence that it is a different species.
In an intriguing development last month, researcher Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong told the Australian newspaper that the new skeleton sounded remarkably similar to the Ebu Gogo, strange hairy little people that legend says lived on Flores.