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New bones suggest ‘hobbits’ were modern pygmies

New bones suggest ‘hobbits’ were modern pygmies

New Scientist

Image: Ryan Somma

Amidst accusations of grave-robbing, researchers have uncovered bones that could drive another nail into the Homo floresiensis coffin.

The “hobbit” discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 is thought by some to be a new species of human.

Now researchers have discovered that a nearby island was overrun by diminutive humans as recently as 1400 years ago – but despite their size these people clearly belonged to our species.

Lee Berger at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his team found the fragmentary remains of at least 26 individuals in two caves on the Palauan archipelago in Micronesia, east of the Philippines.

“Some of the bones we found were very close in size to those from Flores,” says Berger. “For example, one proximal tibia [upper shin bone] is only 1mm larger than LB1 [the best preserved “hobbit” skeleton],” he says.

But when Berger’s team examined the jaw, they found a number of characteristics unique to modern humans – enough to suggest that the tiny Palauans belonged to our species. Read more on newscientist.com…