Friday, March 19, 2010

Indonesian 'hobbit' challenges evolutionary theory


In this photo taken Sept. 15, 2009, 80-year-old and 4-feet-tall Victor Jehabut, second from left, who is often claimed by tour guides as a descendant of Homo floresiensis, dwarf cave-dwellers that roamed Flores island 160,000 years ago, walks in his village in Rampasasa, Indonesia. An international team is trying to shed light on a fossilized 18,000-year-old skeleton of a dwarf cavewoman whose discovery on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 was an international sensation. Jehabut said the rumors of him being related to the hobbits are not true, and that childhood hardship had stunted his growth.
Credit: Achmad Ibrahim
2010-03-06 21:00:00 PST Liang Bua, , Indonesia — (03-06) 21:00 PST LIANG BUA, Indonesia (AP) --
Hunched over a picnic table in a limestone cave, the Indonesian researcher gingerly fingers the bones of a giant rat for clues to the origins of a tiny human.

This world turned upside down may once have existed here, on the remote island of Flores, where an international team is trying to shed light on the fossilized 18,000-year-old skeleton of a dwarf cavewoman whose discovery in 2003 was an international sensation.

Her scientific name is Homo floresiensis, her nickname is "the hobbit," and the hunt is on to prove that she and the dozen other hobbits since discovered are not a quirk of nature but members of a distinct hominid species.


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