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Little big people

Prehistoric Pacific islanders grow in stature and controversy with new finds

6:56pm, August 26, 2008
People who inhabited Palau in western Micronesia nearly 3,000 years ago have achieved new and disputed heights. Contrary to an earlier report that these ancient islanders had unusually small bodies, human remains recently excavated in a Palau cave come from individuals who physically measured up to people today, according to a new report published online August 27 in PLoS ONE.

This is no arcane archaeological dispute. An earlier study of human remains on Palau found them to be remarkably small and posited that if human seafarers quickly took on tiny statures after settling Palau due to isolation and a lack of varied resources, then the same could have happened on other islands. That would cast doubt on reports that a prehistoric skeleton from the Indonesian island of Flores represents a tiny humanlike species called Homo floresiensis, or hobbits for short, rather than a person with a disorder that stunted brain growth (

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