The hobbit trap: How new speciesare invented

Maciej Henneberg, Robert B. Eckhardt, John Schofield

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When scientists found the remains of a tiny hominid on an Indonesian in 2004, they claimed they found a totally new species of human ancestor (homo floresiensis), and called it a Hobbit. Film crews rolled in and the little creature took the world by storm, but a group of prominent scientists, including Maciej Henneberg and Robert Eckhardt, smelled a rat. They refuted the data—the size and shape of bones, the inferences about height—and they raised fundamental questions about scientific method, revealing cultural and political pressures that lead to the wide acceptance of unsupported theories. The Hobbit Trap describes how the case against the “new species” theory developed and offers an important critique of the species concept in evolution. In this thoroughly updated second edition, the authors include new data and analysis of the Flores fossils, and expand their important analysis of scientific practice, calling for a new movement to reverse the decline in scientific standards and the rise in scientific politics. This lively and important challenge to conventional wisdom is accessible to the general reader and makes a stimulating addition to courses on the history and philosophy of science, evolution and physical anthropology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Hobbit Trap
Subtitle of host publicationHow New Species Are Invented
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages214
ISBN (Electronic)9781315418285
ISBN (Print)9781598745719
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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