Sunday, June 18, 2006

Human Hobbits Discovered in Asia

2004 was certainly a banner year for freaks of nature. Only a few short months after Hogzilla’s untimely death, archaeologists working inside a cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores came upon an unusual set of bones. They looked very much like the bones of an adult human being—with one exception. They were shockingly tiny.

For the past two years, scientists around the world have been battling over the true identity of the Hobbit Humans of Indonesia. (Named after the diminutive hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.) But despite the debate, one thing remains certain: Thousands of years ago, human-like creatures no larger than a modern three-year-old lived in the jungles of Southeast Asia, hunting pygmy elephants and dining on huge rodents. The question is—who were they?

The archaeologists who discovered the bones believe the three-foot-tall beings to be a previously unknown species of humans who may have lived alongside our distant ancestors. Other scientists claim that the bones belonged to a group of humans born with a genetic disorder than made their brains and bodies unusually small. However, stone tools too old to have been created by our ancestors were recently found in a cave on Flores, seeming to back up the argument that the Hobbits must have been a separate species.

Perhaps most intriguingly, some residents of Flores believe that the little creatures may not have disappeared thousands of years in the past. Island folklore tells of tiny men who, not long ago, lived in the dense, unexplored jungles and emerged from time to time to kidnap and eat a human or two.

Click here to see a National Geographic image gallery of the Hobbit Humans.
Click here to listen to an NPR radio story about the discovery.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've SEEN hobbits-if that's what you're calling them- and it's not a huge deal. Although they don't eat humans just have surprising tempers.

10:37 PM  

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