Australian researchers back hobbit claims


Oct 2, 2006

Flores man ... a model of a skull from the newly found species of hobbit-sized humans that lived about 18,000 years ago in Indonesia

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) are backing claims that the discovery of the so-called hobbit in Indonesia does represent a new species of human.

In 2003, Australian scientists unearthed the remains of a hobbit-like species, with adults about the height of a three-year-old child, in a cave on a remote island in Indonesia.

In a new paper, ANU researchers reject claims that the skeleton of a hobbit-like species was simply a very short human with a rare brain disease.

ANU Professor Colin Groves says after analysing the evidence, he has no doubt the discovery represents a new species of human.

"What is particularly interesting about it is it survived in isolation through those two-million-years or so in eastern Indonesia and its existence was quite unsuspected until very recently," he said.

Professor Groves says the evidence speaks for itself.

"Aspects of the shape of the skull are completely outside modern humans," he said.

"The shape of the earhole in the skull, the shape of the forehead and the back of the skull, all these things are way outside.

"The limb proportions are quite different from those seen in any modern humans that I've ever heard of."