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27.10.04

Hobbit Women

"Hobbit" Discovered: Tiny Human Ancestor Found In Asia

Scientists have found fossil skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child. The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia as recently as 13,000 years ago.

Australian and Indonesian researchers discovered bones of the miniature humans in a cave on Flores, an island midway between Asia and Australia.

Scientists have determined that the first skeleton they found belongs to a species of human completely new to science. Named Homo floresiensis, after the island on which it was found, the tiny human has also been dubbed by dig workers as the "hobbit," after the tiny creatures from the Lord of the Rings books.


This is pretty neat (though I'm disappointed that they didn't go all the way and name it Homo hobbitus or Homo Tolkieni). But I find it odd that, while the stories in National Geographic (above) as well as the Sydney Morning Herald focus on the original female skeleton, and talk about H. floresiensis as "she", both sites used an illustration of a male "hobbit." I don't know if an illustration was made of a female, but there are at least photos of the skull (next to a H. sapiens skull, thus bringing out the "whoa, they're tiny" angle) available. Count this as another data point in the bias toward illustrating ancient homonids as male.

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