Is this dental filling the shocking end to the Hobbit - Ebu Gogo Story?
This breaking story is based on a Scientific America article from Kate Wong. It appears that “Hobbit skeptic Maciej Henneberg is proposing that the skeleton known as LB1—the most complete hobbit by far—appears on the basis of photographs to have had a filling, possibly a root canal, in its lower left first molar (the M1). If true, this would mean the hobbit is a modern human, not a new species, which is the minority viewpoint that Henneberg and his colleagues have been arguing all along.”
Wow, a root canal? Could a primitive people practice dentistry or does this prove the hobbits to be rather strange group of pathological modern humans after all? You know, the old and tired argument that they are modern humans afflicted with a pathology, specifically microcephalism or in other words, they were pinheads.
Well fret not hobbit and Ebu gogo fans, the curious dental observations may be the result of some laughing gas that was recently administered to a known hobbit detractor. From the same Scientific America article this observation from Charles Hildebolt of Washington University, who has also been working on the Flores material and has obtained his own CT scans:
"We think that it is highly unlikely that any type of filling material is in the mandible left first molar. The defect in the mandibular left first molar does not have the appearance of a cavity preparation made by a dentist in that the defect is shallow, is non-retentive, and is not extended in an apical direction interproximally. There is no indication of tooth decay in any of LB1’s teeth. Silver amalgam fillings were present in the 1930s, and if a dentist were to place a filling in a tooth, it would seem most likely that it would be a silver amalgam. If for some reason, a temporary filling were placed in LB1’s mandibular left first molar, we should be able to see some indication of it in the CT images, but we cannot—all that we can see is a defect that resembles other defects on LB1’s teeth where the enamel has worn away and the dentine is exposed."
Peter Brown, the original discoverer of the “hobbit remains,” has suggested that the white substance seen on the surface of the molar and the incisor is a discoloration of the teeth due to limestone. As the remains were found embedded in limestone, this theory is a very likely scenario. Currently, the “hobbit remains,” are under the care or house arrest of Indonesian anthropologists and are unavailable for viewing. When will the rest of the scientific world get their opportunity to review this critical find?
In Peter Brown's words:
There is absolutely no support for Professor Henneberg's claim of a filling (1930's dental restoration) in the crown, or roots, of the left mandibular first molar of LB1. Dr Alan Thorne, one of Professor Henneberg's supporters has stated to journalists that if Henneberg's claims are correct then there are implications for Homo floresiensis http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23561788-30417,00.html . Of course the reverse should also be true. As the claim is a complete fabrication, without any substance, then there are implications for the credibility of Professor Henneberg and his supporters. Peter Brown, April 2008
and some more:
"The claim is a complete fabrication, without any substance," wrote Professor Brown. "Professor Henneberg is either extremely inexperienced in the way teeth wear in hunter-gatherers and earlier hominins, did not examine the teeth in adequate detail, or is intentionally not telling the truth in order to denigrate the research of others."
Yikes, getting nasty and you can almost smell the egos!
Here's the link with a lot of analysis: http://www-personal.une.edu.au/~pbrown3/Henneberg%20hobbit%20claim.htm
Why are the hobbit detractors so eager to make their false assertions? Because the Homo floresiensis find challenges so many of our cherished beliefs about mankind’s place among our animal brethren. After all you can’t have dominion over the planet if you are just another competing species. Defining mankind as another species challenges both religious fundamentalist's arguments against evolution and even evolutionists. There are many scientist who feel that our ascent was special because of our large brains and cultural advantages and therefore not subject to the natural forces of competition, speciation and chance. Human dwarfism due to isolation on a tropical island throws all of these beliefs to the wayside, it shows we are an animal subject to the same forces of nature as the other animals. Also, there is a large dose of male ego flying about Flores because the original find was not made by native scientists. OF course all of this nonsense is to the detriment of science.
In the meantime ID proponents and creationists struggle to place these creatures in their own timeline. One blog, Today's New Reason to Believe, "views the hominids as animals created by God. Accordingly, these extraordinary creatures walked erect and possessed some level of intelligence, which allowed these animals to cobble crude tools and even adopt some level of “culture.” The RTB model maintains that the hominids were not spiritual beings made in God’s image, but reserves that status exclusively for modern humans."
More scientific proof that we were made in god's image, there you have it folks.
If you want additional coverage of all of the hobbit controversies I highly recommend John Hawks Weblog where he has been tracking the hobbit saga for some time. He's at http://johnhawks.net. The troubling molar is circled in red, it's top surface is slightly whiter than the other teeth.