Robert J. Robbins is a biologist, an educator, a science administrator, a publisher, an information technologist, and an IT leader and manager who specializes in advancing biomedical knowledge and supporting education through the application of information technology. More About: RJR | OUR TEAM | OUR SERVICES | THIS WEBSITE
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Homo floresiensis, The Hobbit
Wikipedia: Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"; nicknamed "hobbit" for its small stature) is an extinct species in the genus Homo. The remains of an individual that would have stood about 3.5 feet (1.1 m) in height were discovered in 2003 at Liang Bua on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Partial skeletons of nine individuals have been recovered, including one complete skull, referred to as "LB1".These remains have been the subject of intense research to determine whether they represent a species distinct from modern humans. This hominin had originally been considered to be remarkable for its survival until relatively recent times, only 12,000 years ago. However, more extensive stratigraphic and chronological work has pushed the dating of the most recent evidence of their existence back to 50,000 years ago. Their skeletal material is now dated to from 100,000 to 60,000 years ago; stone tools recovered alongside the skeletal remains were from archaeological horizons ranging from 190,000 to 50,000 years ago. Fossil teeth and a partial jaw from hominins believed ancestral to H. floresiensis were discovered in 2014 and described in 2016. These remains are from a site on Flores called Mata Menge, about 74 km from Liang Bua. They date to about 700,000 years ago and are even smaller than the later fossils. The form of the fossils has been interpreted as suggesting that they are derived from a population of H. erectus that arrived on Flores about a million years ago (as indicated by the oldest artifacts excavated on the island) and rapidly became dwarfed. The discoverers (archaeologist Mike Morwood and colleagues) proposed that a variety of features, both primitive and derived, identify these individuals as belonging to a new species, H. floresiensis, within the taxonomic tribe of Hominini, which includes all species that are more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees. Based on previous date estimates, the discoverers also proposed that H. floresiensis lived contemporaneously with modern humans on Flores. Two orthopedic researches published in 2007 reported evidence to support species status for H. floresiensis. A study of three tokens of carpal (wrist) bones concluded there were differences from the carpal bones of modern humans and similarities to those of a chimpanzee or an early hominin such as Australopithecus. A study of the bones and joints of the arm, shoulder, and lower limbs also concluded that H. floresiensis was more similar to early humans and other apes than modern humans. In 2009, the publication of a cladistic analysis and a study of comparative body measurements provided further support for the hypothesis that H. floresiensis and Homo sapiens are separate species.
Created with PubMed® Query: "Homo floresiensis"
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RJR Experience and Expertise
Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.
Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.
Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.
Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.
While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.
Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.
Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.
Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.
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