There is also a NYT story about this, based on several paper out in Nature yesterday reporting the first detailed analyses of this hominid's foot bones. Here's an excerpt from the Nature News&Views article:
Fossils of tiny ancient humans, found on the island of Flores, have provoked much debate and speculation. Evidence that they are a real species comes from analyses of the foot and also — more surprisingly — of dwarf hippos.
Good science requires a healthy dose of tempered scepticism — at its heart, the process involves trying to reject proposed hypotheses. So it was understandable that the announcement (1, 2) in 2004 of the discovery of a species of dwarfed hominin, Homo floresiensis, from the island of Flores, Indonesia, stimulated a range of opinions, many of them sceptical, that the fossils constituted a new species and were not the consequence of some pathological condition.
Two papers in this issue, by Jungers and colleagues3 and by Weston and Lister4, together with contributions to a special online issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, will go a long way towards addressing the sceptics' concerns. The studies provide considerable evidence — literally from head to toe — that H. floresiensis is a true species of hominin (that is, a species more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees and other apes). More importantly, the analyses prompt hypotheses about the human family tree that will require more fossil evidence to test.
I'll have more on this after class, once I've got my hands on the actual papers!