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Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Fascinating Discovery of "Hobbit" Skeletons 

Archaeologists recently discovered the remains of a mini-human species on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Given the scientific name Homo floresiensis, this three-foot tall
species has been dubbed by researchers as "Hobbits." The remains are not fossilized, but
rather recent, and scientists hope to pull DNA from the bones. This species lived on the
island from around 95,000 years ago until at least 12,000 years ago.

They would have shared the island not only with stegodons (pygmy elephants) and komodo dragons, but modern humans, too. They hunted the stegodons and used fire to cook them at their hearths. Hunting such large creatures would have posed a challenge to the small humans, and they likely hunted in groups. It's likely they reached the island by using bamboo rafts.

It's possible that the tiny humans went extinct at the same time as the stegodons, after a major volcanic eruption in the area (Liang Bua) 12,000 years ago.

On a fascinating folkloric note, tales of small humans have abounded on this island for
centuries. A large window of time exists during which modern humans could have interacted
with the "Hobbits" -- from 40,000 years ago to at least 12,000 years ago. It's even possible
they survived on the island into recent times. Local tales feature creatures called the "ebu
gogo" -- small, hairy people who climbed trees and murmured to each other in a strange
language. The ebu gogo could repeat words spoken by villagers verbatim. Locals say that the
last ebu gogo was spotted just before Dutch colonists settled on the island in the 19th
century.

Thick sections of rainforest still remain on the island, and some speculate that the Hobbits
could still exist in the denser parts.


To read more, see:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_3960000/newsid_3960800/3960879.stm

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/10/1027_041027_homo_floresiensis.html

posted 6:16 PM

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