"Both of these papers show things that could not have evolved or been a plastic response within our own species," George Washington University paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood told The Scientist. Wood, who was not involved with either study, added that the papers raise important questions regarding the evolutionary origins of H. floresiensis that only further research can answer.
While they certainly agree with the diminuative size being related to reduced energy needs they suggest that it is not just a reduced example of homo erectus.
In the other Nature paper, William Jungers, a paleoanthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York, and his coauthors compared the Hobbit foot to the few existing feet in the fossil record. "You just don't see complete feet until you get into Neanderthal," Jungers told The Scientist. "The fossil record of feet is surprisingly meager." If H. floresiensis was in fact a dwarfed H. erectus, the species would have had to amass primitive features after its ancestor had already evolved more modern skeletal characteristics. "It's asking a lot for evolution to backtrack like that," Jungers said. "Is it possible? I guess, but there's no precedent.".
Of course all of this analysis is very subjective. Morphological studies have created a number of strange controversies over the years in evolution. One really hotly contested area was the differences between Bat speicies the larger "flying fox" type that eat fruit and the smaller insect eating bat were throught to have evolved separately at one point and thought to be an example of convergent evolution (this ended up to be wrong). The real answer to this question would need to be settled using DNA mutation rate and genetics. if you want a firm answer everything else is just conjecture, even if it is well informed conjecture.
I've been in the academic research field for a number of years and published a good number of papers, and from the lowest tier you've never heard or it anyway journal to the most highly rated immunology journal and every one of them lists published articles as advertisments because we have to pay them to publish it. Not only that but then they charge money to real advertisers and stuff the book with that as well. And as a reviewer for some of these journals I can say only the top most tier of journals have an editoral staff that actually does anything. There is nothing like correcting grammar (I don't mean basic non-essential problems I mean it took an hour and a literature search to figure out what the hell the author was talking about things) when you are supposed to be evaluationg the science. The worst part many of the better journals have less restrictive policies. Some of the best journals, JI, JEM, etc have made all their articles free after one year without NIH prompting. Its a horrible scam, but the open access journals may never take off, too many scientists want to publish their stuff in the journals people read and these are established and ranked. It's all a horrible scam.
"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"