In search of the hobbit

Leaning over the picnic table, the Indonesian researcher carefully picks up the bones in search of a possible clue as to the origin of the person. Here, on the remote island of Flores, an international team of archaeologists is trying to shed light on the remains of the skeleton of a dwarf cave woman, whose age is equal to 18 thousand years. They were discovered here in 2003, and this discovery immediately became a sensation all over the world. His scientific name is the Man of Flores (Homo floresiensis), the nickname is “the hobbit,” and the hunt for him began to prove that this woman and dozens of others are not just a fad of nature, but members of a distant human kind.

“Here they butchered animals,” says researcher Rokus Dew Oh, studying rat bones the size of toothpicks, probably left after a feast of hobbits. Behind him, workers take out buckets of soil from the cave in the form of a cathedral, decorated with stalactites 40 meters underground. The discovery of the man of Flores shocked scientists and divided their opinions. Obviously, there lived a group of distant relatives of a person who had developed habits, unprecedented millions of years, but they lived at the same time as more modern people.Almost overnight, this find can change our understanding of the whole human evolution.

(13 photos total)

1. Archaeologists excavate a cave in Liang Bua, Indonesia, September 12, 2009, where in 2003 the skeleton of a dwarf cave woman was discovered. There is a version that this man of Flores and dozens of his relatives, called "hobbits", is a new type of hominid. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

2. A worker is excavating in Liang Bua Cave on September 14, 2009, where human remains were found in Ruteng, Flores Island, Indonesia. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

3. Workers are working at the excavation site in Liang Bua Cave. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

4. Workers are digging in Liang Bua Cave, where in 2003 the remains of a caveman were found. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

5. Australian archaeologist Mike Morwood works in Liang Bua Cave. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

6. Workers at the excavation site in Ruteng, Indonesia. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

7. With a small height (1 m) and a small brain (400 cc - three times less than the volume of the brain of a modern person), this type of hominid was capable of processing stone tools. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

8. Indonesian archaeologist Yatmiko explores a fragment of prehistoric stone in Liang Bua Cave on September 14, 2009. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

9. Because of the small size of the brain found remains, the scientists immediately had a question, how could a person with such a brain size could manufacture complex tools. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

10. According to one version, this is not a separate kind of person, but a modern person (Homo Sapiens) who suffered from microcephaly. This was indicated by the small size of the brain, the double root of the incisors and canines, and the cut chin. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

11. Scientists - supporters of a separate species hypothesis - argued that the "hobbit" was a subspecies of a man erectus and was prone to size reduction due to prolonged isolation on the island. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

12. Victor Jehabut (second from left) with a height of only 1.22 meters. This 80-year-old old man is often referred to as the “descendant of the man of Flores” - dwarf cavemen who lived on Flores island 160,000 years ago. Jehabut says that these rumors are not true, in fact his growth was affected by illness in childhood. (AP / Achmad Ibrahim)

13. Left: a researcher holds a human skull of Flores in Indonesia. Right: The human skeleton of Flores, found in the Liang Bua Cave in Ruteng, Flores Island, Indonesia.

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