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Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Feb;22(2):57-9. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Brains, islands and evolution: breaking all the rules.

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Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancón, Panamá, República de Panamá.


The announcement in 2004 that a small-brained hominin, Homo floresiensis, had been discovered on the island of Flores, Indonesia, was hailed as a major scientific breakthrough because it challenged preconceptions about the evolution of our closest relatives. Now, just over two years later, questions raised by the interpretation of the fossil abound. In a series of recent papers, critics have questioned the interpretation of the small brain volume of the fossil as that of a new hominin species, suggesting instead that it was due to microcephaly. The arguments raised by critics and advocates alike prompt a re-examination of ideas about what is possible during the evolution of the brain.

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