Australian scientists said on Tuesday they have discovered more remains of hobbit-sized humans which belong to a previously unknown species that lived at the end of the last Ice Age.

Professor Mike Morwood, of the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia, stunned the science world last year when he and his team announced the discovery of 18,000-year-old remains of a new human species called Homo floresiensis.

The partial skeleton discovered in a limestone cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 was of a tiny adult hominid, or early human, only one meter (3 feet tall), that would have walked upright and had a chimpanzee-sized brain.

Morwood and his team said it represented a unique species of early humans that evolved to a naturally small size because of environmental conditions and the isolation of the island, which was also home to exotic creatures such as miniature elephants and Komodo dragons.

But critics suggested the small hominid was not a new species and was more likely a pygmy human or a creature that suffered from a form of microcephaly, a condition that causes an unusually small brain.

“The finds further demonstrate …(it) is not just an aberrant or pathological individual but is representative of a long-term population,” Morwood and his team said in a report in the science journal Nature.

By Patricia Reaney

More here.

0