Thursday, November 19, 2009

Paleontological Nicknames -- Addendum

In my previous post (November 17, 2009), I considered the propensity in paleontology for the nicknaming of hominid specimens (I fear the specific focus wasn't clear in the title). I've been thinking about why there should be this propensity. Although naming things seems to be one of our species' natural roles, these fossils, in particular, invite the nicknames by which they are popularly known (in lieu of their curated identifications, such as WT 17000) because, after all, they are from individuals who were human-like or, indeed, human.

ScienceDaily just posted a story about a recent analysis of the Homo floresiensis specimen LB1, concluding that, indeed, she is from a new species of Homo ('Hobbits' Are a New Human Species, According to Statistical Analysis of Fossils, ScienceDaily, November 19, 2009, link here). LB1 has a propensity for garnering nicknames. She was the partial fossil skeleton found on the Indonesian island of Flores that initially prompted the nickname the hobbit, which is now applied to all of this species (see Kate Wong's article Rethinking the Hobbits of Indonesia, Scientific American November 2009, link here). So, in light of the loss of an exclusive nickname, I suppose it's not surprising that she has a new one all her own, or actually two. As the ScienceDaily piece notes, LB1 is also known as Little Lady of Flores or Flo.

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