Homo floresiensis and Answers in Genesis

The discovery of Homo floresiensis, the dwarf human species from Flores in Indonesia, has received such massive media attention that creationists have naturally responded to it. Carl Weiland of Answers in Genesis has written an article on Homo floresiensis, and Agape Press has also written an article interviewing AIG's founder, Ken Ham.

AIG basically agrees with the researchers who found the bones (nicknamed 'the Hobbit') that they are a dwarf variety of Homo erectus. However AIG (unlike almost all modern scientists) considers that H. erectus really belongs to H. sapiens, and that the Flores bones should therefore be assigned to H. sapiens too. The human kind, says Wieland, "had a greater range of variation than exhibited today".

That's putting it mildly. If creationists can claim that Homo sapiens and Homo floresiensis belong to the same "kind", on what grounds can they say that australopithecines and H. floresiensis can't also be the same kind, since in its overall body shape floresiensis looks more like an australopithecine than a modern human? In fact, for a while Peter Brown and his team seriously considered placing floresiensis in the genus Australopithecus.

I've little doubt that if floresiensis had been discovered in Africa, without the associated archaeological evidence, then AIG would have unhesitatingly have declared it as just another ape. They've done that, after all, for many habiline fossils which have skulls considerably larger than and at least as modern as those of floresiensis.

AIG has stated elsewhere that

When complete fossils are found, they are easy to assign clearly as either 'ape' or human, there are only 'ape-men' where imagination colored by belief in evolution is applied to fragmented bits and pieces.

This claim is bluster; creationists have always had a hard time distinguishing between 'apes' and 'humans'. But Homo floresiensis, and AIG's attribution of it to H. sapiens, really blows the claim out of the water. Now we have a 'human' that is far smaller than, and about as primitive as, many fossils that AIG calls apes. Where are the "kind" boundaries now? I'd love to see a creationist line up the skulls of H. floresiensis, ER 1813, D2700, ER 1470, the Olduvai habilis fossils, OH 12, and ER 3373, and try to justify splitting them into two groups of 'apes' and 'humans' on anatomical grounds. As far as I know, no creationist has ever addressed the human fossil record at that level of detail. Lubenow's approach, generally adopted by AIG, was that any skull under 700cc could be dismissed as an ape because it was too small to be a human. "The Hobbit", with its brain size of only 380cc, leaves that strategy in tatters.