What Difference Does a Damaged Skull Make, Anyhow?

Readers of this blog are familiar with my fascination of the fossils of human ancestors. I’ve written about fossils’ beauty, their strange stories, and the ways they make us question our ideas. Despite these points, critics often ask: do the discoveries of these bits of bone actually make any difference? In other words, why is paleoanthropology important;…

A Day at Liang Bua

In 2004, the discovery of a tiny hominin catapulted the limestone cave of Liang Bua into the scientific spotlight. Few people realize, however, that Liang Bua’s scientific history extends both long before the hobbit’s discovery and continues unfolding to the present day. On a recent trip to the cave, where I was hoping to learn more…

Learning About the Hobbits of Flores

“Oh, this is absolutely bizarre,” scientist Bert Roberts exclaimed, referring to the fossil species Homo floresiensis. Bizarre is a word that sums up the floresiensis creatures (known as the hobbits) quite nicely. These primitive hominins–with their small brains, huge feet, and tiny stature–were discovered almost accidently in 2003, and they were completely unexpected. “We would have been less…