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Scientists find new human species
The Daily Telegraph, Thursday, 28 October 2004
SHE stands a metre tall, has a brain the size of a chimpanzee and her knuckles reach down to her knees - meet homo floresiensis, pin-up girl of the scientific world.
The newly discovered species of human, dubbed "the Hobbit", is being hailed as the most significant scientific find of the past century and was unearthed by NSW archaeologists.
Named after the Indonesian island of Flores where she was found, the female is thought to have been 30 years old when she died of natural causes.
Scientists have pieced together an image - with the male of the species pictured right - of a hairless, dark-skinned dwarf with a comparatively small head, countersunk eyes, flat nose, big teeth and mouth jutting forward with virtually no chin.
But what has scientists at the University of New England, Armidale, so excited is that the species lived as recently as 13,000 years ago - long after homo sapiens began walking the planet.
"It's a totally different human species which lived side-by-side with us for 40,000 years at least," Associate Professor Mike Morwood, an archeologist on the dig, said.
"It means two different types of human existed at the same time. To say we're excited's an understatement.
"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we'd find such a complete specimen. We were expecting tests to show the date of the bones to be around 100,000 years old.
"When it came back at 18,000, we thought it was a mistake. But it's right."
Further excavations in the Liang Bua cave site in July and August have unearthed remains 13,000 years "young".
Associate Professor Peter Brown, also of UNE, added: "Finding a spaceship would have been less of a surprise. This sort of species was supposed to have been extinct for a long time.
"Then we find a brand new species on Flores - yesterday, in archaeological terms.
"We don't know how they got there because Flores is very isolated. We discovered stone tools and evidence of rock formations, suggesting the species used fire.
"Although the brain size tells us they weren't as bright as us, it's clear information was processed in the same way."
The team believes homo floresiensis was wiped out by a volcanic eruption about 12,000 years ago.
"If it hadn't been for that eruption, this species would still be on the planet today," the University of Wollongong's Professor Bert Roberts said.
The team told Nature magazine Flores until recently was "a kind of Lost World".
Dutch may have met Hobbits
October 29, 2004
SCIENTISTS who announced yesterday they had discovered a new human species suspect the "hobbits" could have lived as recently as 500 years ago.
Experts from two NSW universities told how finding the dwarf-like skeleton in a remote cave on the Indonesian island of Flores was just the tip of the iceberg.
They hope to continue digging in other parts of the island -- and prove some of the species survived until the 1500s, when Dutch explorers settled in the area.
If the theory is proved correct, it would mean the 1m-tall hobbit -- scientifically known as homo floresiensis -- interacted with modern-day man, until it eventually died out.
"Could they have persisted somewhere else on the island? Yes, they could have done," Professor Bert Roberts of Wollongong University asked.
"There are lots of local folk tales in Flores about these people, which are consistent and incredibly detailed.
"The stories suggest there may be more than a grain of truth to the idea that they were still living on Flores up until the Dutch arrived in the 1500s."
Associate Professor Mike Morwood said he now wanted to start excavating on neighbouring islands to Flores such as Sulawesi, Lombok, Timor and Java.
"We look forward to finding other species," said Mr Morwood, leader of the Australian-Indonesian team of archaeologists. "I wouldn't be surprised if modern humans consumed them. I look forward to finding grisly archaeological evidence of that."
"Sulawesi has got to be another real cracker of an opportunity. We haven't had the planet to ourselves for all that long.
"We are simply not that unique any longer. The difference between us and them is getting incredibly small."
The new species was discovered in September last year.
What Others are Saying
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1. Re: Scientists find new human species
The views expressed in the comments above are that of the internet public and are not neccessarily reflected by the philosophy of AAQ. Please report any abusive activity to webmistress(AT)animalactivism.org
19-12-2006 by visitor
hmm sound quite stragne, hobits? are we now looking at the possibility that others may have once lived? elves, drawfs, orcs? up ultil readingthis i was 100% sure that we were the only species on earth but are we now looking at the existance of bigfoot?
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