Kate Wong on the Hobbit Trail

Kate Wong, Scientific American's excellent paleo reporter has a two-parter on the latest dish on Homo floresiensis a k a the Hobbit. No cymbal crashes, I'm afraid, but interesting nonetheless.

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Pretty good point about the parsimoniousness of the microcephaly explanation. Even if there's reason to doubt it (as outlined in part 2), the idea that LB1 is some form of diseased individual still seems like the simplest explanation for the evidence at hand. My imagination, of course, much prefers the hobbit thesis.

I'm wondering what effect microcephaly would have on the survivability/longevity of an individual in a paleolithic society. My understanding is that LB1 was thought to be 30.

Could the smaller than expected brain size simply be a function of limited availability of food and a lack of predators/competition selecting for a less energy-sapping brain?