Thursday, October 28, 2004

Recreational Mythologies and Reality

"Hobbit" Discovered: Tiny Human Ancestor Found in Asia

Hillary Mayell
for National Geographic News
October 27, 2004


read the whole article here

Scientists have found skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child (See pictures). The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia 18,000 years ago.
Australian and Indonesian researchers discovered bones of the miniature humans in a cave on Flores, an island east of Bali and 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
.


The skeleton was found in the same sediment deposits on Flores that have also been found to contain stone tools and the bones of dwarf elephants, giant rodents, and Komodo dragons, lizards that can grow to 10 feet (3 meters) and that still live today.

Homo floresienses has been described as one of the most spectacular discoveries in paleoanthropology in half a century—and the most extreme human ever discovered
.


"To find that as recently as perhaps 13,000 years ago, there was another upright, bipedal—although small-brained—creature walking the planet at the same time as modern humans is as exciting as it was unexpected," said Peter Brown, a paleoanthropologist at the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia.


"Homo floresiensis is an addition to the short list of other human species that lived at the same time as modern humans. I think people will be surprised to learn that not so long ago, we were not alone," said Brown.


This is fascinating stuff for me, which is why I'm studying anthropology. I find it interesting that when Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings has was using his imagination as inspired by folklore, but ACTUAL human history is really not all that different from Middle earth.

We so easily entertain ourselves with fiction through mtv, movies, sitcoms, video games, but "reality" is oh so much more amazing.






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