Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
"Hobbits" Found In Indonesia

By Russell Dovey in Science
Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:37:34 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Exploding through the newsnets is the discovery of the remains of seven members of a tiny, previously unknown human species that survived until at least 13,000 years ago, and perhaps co-existed with modern humans right up to the present day.

Adult Homo Florensiensis, nicknamed "Hobbits" by the dig workers who helped uncover the remains at the Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia, were about the size of a three-year-old modern human child, but had a brain one-third the size. Stone tools and pygmy elephant bones found at the site indicate that these "Hobbits" hunted co-operatively together in groups, meaning that they must have had language.

"The whole idea that you need a particular brain size to do anything intelligent is completely blown away by this find," commented Dr Henry Gee of Nature magazine to the BBC.


Opinions on how this discovery changes the history of humanity's evolution range from informed speculation to absurdity, and it will take many years to work out what this find means for our previously firm beliefs about humanity's close relatives.

The senior editor of Nature, in which the find was published, speculates that "Ebu Gogo", as legendary "little people" referred to in local legends were called, might still exist out in the unexplored Indonesian rainforest.

Further reputable information and pictures on Homo Florensiensis can be had from the BBC, National Geographic, the Sydney Morning Herald, Scientific American and Nature, while disreputable Lord Of The Rings tomfoolery and satisfyingly harsh flaming of creationist denial can be had from Slashdot.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
How much does this change your understanding of humanity?
o It's breathtakingly important, the most important find in archaeology since the Neandertal! 32%
o It's interesting for scientists, I guess, but doesn't really change anything. 30%
o See? I told you Hobbits were real! 17%
o Bah. Science is boring! 4%
o -1, "Ebu Gogo"-centric. 14%

Votes: 68
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o BBC
o National Geographic
o Sydney Morning Herald
o Scientific American
o Nature
o Slashdot [2]
o Also by Russell Dovey


Display: Sort:
"Hobbits" Found In Indonesia | 54 comments (47 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Cool if it's true (2.75 / 4) (#2)
by The Solitaire on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:33:14 AM EST

I sincerely hope that this is a true find. There have been a few frauds in the past (Piltdown Man) that have been trotted out by creationists as being "proof" that all us scientists are full of shit. I don't want to give them any more ammo.

Would have been even cooler if they were found still thriving, though.

I need a new sig.

It was published in Nature. (none / 1) (#5)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:50:32 AM EST

I wondered if this was an early April Fool's prank as well, but it has all the signs of being utterly legit. Nature and BBC News don't get fooled easily, and all the experts they quote are as excited about the find as we are.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Yeah, I agree (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by The Solitaire on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 01:08:26 AM EST

It does sound legit. I'm just a chronic skeptic. I agree that it is a really, really cool find. I hope that they're able to extract some DNA (one of the articles in Nature says that they are trying).

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

DNA would truly be a historic find. (none / 1) (#7)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 01:34:53 AM EST

It would be invaluable to compare DNA from another species within genus Homo with our own DNA, I'm sure we'd find out tons of interesting stuff.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

DNA (none / 1) (#19)
by The Solitaire on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 01:34:04 PM EST

They've already extracted some from Neanderthal skeletons. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that it was Mitochondrial DNA, not the regular stuff. I read an article some time ago, that used the DNA evidence to show that we are not the result of Neanderthals breeding with Cro-Magnon, but I'm pretty sure the evidence is hotly disputed.

It doesn't sound as likely that they'll be able to pull DNA from the "hobbit" bones, since they were poorly preserved because of wet conditions (one of the articles described the bones as like "wet mashed potatoes").

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

minor nit (none / 1) (#26)
by llimllib on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:43:51 PM EST

Even if the world and all its creatures was created by a God (that's the only claim of the creationists, right?), that doesn't disprove science in general, just evolutionary theory. Am I missing something here?

Peace.
[ Parent ]
Depends on which nutcase you're asking. (none / 1) (#35)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 11:21:10 PM EST

Some nutcases claim that the world is 6000 years old and was created at teatime on a Tuesday, so they deny the validity of all evidence showing that the Earth is more than 6000 years old. (There are living trees older than that, in case you're wondering.)

Proponents of intelligent design are the hardest nutcases to crack, though. They range from the mild (look, aliens MIGHT have set all this up to look like a four-billion year history) to the angrily philosophical (look, it's like Descartes said; we experience the world, yada yada yada, THERE'S A GOD, KNEEL HERETIC) and change their arguments like mobile phone covers.

The thing that none of these guys get is that, because we can study bacteria, we can see evolution happening, verifiably and repeatably, in the lab. We can do evolutionary experiments. So even if God squeezed the universe out of a pimple on his ass 6000 years ago, evolution still works, and the creationists are still wrong.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

maybe god designed evoloution (none / 0) (#39)
by auraslip on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 01:09:22 AM EST


124
[ Parent ]
maybe (none / 0) (#43)
by blue tiger on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 01:30:58 PM EST

maybe he also designed the big bang. but eventually one does not need a "god" hypothesis at all. world works the same whether we consider god or not.

[ Parent ]
Carl Sagan posed a problem.... (none / 1) (#52)
by ckaminski on Tue Nov 02, 2004 at 02:36:36 PM EST

In Contact, something that was left out of the movie, that I only found out when I read the book a year or so later.

He's the first source I've seen for the idea, so I'm going to tentatively give him credit for it.  He postulates that if there was a God, and he wanted us to know he existed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, he'd give proof that even a skeptic couldn't ignore.

Pi.  3.14159~  A simple enough number.  Now suppose you could calculate Pi to 10^128 digits, and you suddenly run into a million zeroes.  Then another million, but with a 1 in the middle.  then another, but with two ones, ever expanding, until it finally closes, and you find another million zeroes.  A circle drawn within Pi.  I'd be convinced.

I can believe in Intelligent design, but I don't need to believe in Creationism.  I certainly don't need to believe that the world is only 6000 years old, or that man is spawned from Adam and Eve, or that a flood of unGodly proportions destroyed the world, and every living creature that exists today was on a boat for a year.  

The biblical fundamentalists are ruining Jesus' great message, IMHO.  Love thy neighbor.

Peace, all.

[ Parent ]

I concur (none / 0) (#54)
by ry0003 on Tue Dec 14, 2004 at 01:38:09 AM EST

I myself am a firm believer in the bible.  I also believe that no man should ever claim that he knows in full, it even says it in the bible,(http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=53&chapter=13&version=31: 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
.)  

For both the creationists and the evolutionists  I think it is foolish to say that we have the remotest idea of what really happened, it says it in the bible, and I believe that the bible has no error, but the people that read it do!. 2

Peter 3:8
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  

God did create the World in Six days, but how long was a day? for him? we weren't around to see it.  

Same to the evolutionist, were you there to see any of what you claim to have happened, happen at all?  do you understand the universe to make any sort of claim based on any physical basis?.  

To the creationist: Why don't you leave it alone, and just say that you don't understand in fully, (same to the evolutionist)  , God gave us commands, and none of us obey them, NONE of us!, that's why we're all doomed that's the whole ideology of the faith that we believe,  what is more important is that we know that JESUS did exist, and that he is God.  That I believe is what the fanatic creationist most often forgets.

John 3:16 God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son... that so whoever believed in him would be saved.  THAT IS WHAT COUNTS!!!!

[ Parent ]

ammo? (none / 0) (#51)
by Armada on Mon Nov 01, 2004 at 02:27:59 PM EST

There have been a few frauds in the past (Piltdown Man) that have been trotted out by creationists as being "proof" that all us scientists are full of shit.

I don't know why creationists would use this as "ammo". I'm a creationist and don't think this has anything to do with evolution.

[ Parent ]

Wow! (none / 1) (#3)
by five volt on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:34:03 AM EST

According to these graves, this civilisation was composed entirely of CHILDREN!

j/k

--
Ruthlessness kicks ass.

Wow (1.60 / 5) (#4)
by strlen on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:49:53 AM EST


Flores Man was hardly formidable. His grapefruit-sized brain was about a quarter the size of the brain of our species, Homo sapiens. It is closer in size to the brains of transitional prehuman species in Africa more than 3 million years ago.

They found AOL users? Couldn't resist.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

1994 called (3.00 / 5) (#25)
by llimllib on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:41:42 PM EST

it wants its joke back...

Peace.
[ Parent ]
For God's sake (none / 1) (#10)
by komet on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 08:44:49 AM EST

This is by all means an important development, but what the hell is to be gained by calling them "Hobbits"?

YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME.

Muchos, muchos publicity, fool. [nt] (2.00 / 2) (#22)
by toulouse on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:07:26 PM EST


--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


[ Parent ]
Homo Shireus (none / 0) (#44)
by dcheesi on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 02:00:12 PM EST

It's all part of a highly scientific nomenclature:

Humans = Men
Neanderthals = Dwarves
Home Erectus (Asian branch) = Elves
Bigfoots(bigfeet?) = Orcs

Now that we've found the Hobbits, our happy little Tolkien family is complete!

[ Parent ]

Agreed (none / 0) (#46)
by mcgrew on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 07:47:35 PM EST

Hobbits aren't supposed to be human. Neither are elves or dwarves or orcs or wizards, for that matter.

Too bad they didn't find them in Ireland.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Flores man far less human than hobbits, elves etc. (none / 0) (#53)
by Philip Dorrell on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 06:40:52 PM EST

If you watched the movies, you will have noticed that hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards and even some of the Orcs all talked and thought like humans. Homo floresiensis, separated from our own ancestors by at least 1,000,000 years, would have had thought processes and communication methods substantially different to our own. To meet one in person would be far more spooky than to meet a character out of Tolkien (or "Jackson"), because they would exist in that creepy netherland of not human and not animal.

What is Music? Solving a Scientific Mystery
[ Parent ]
Language (3.00 / 6) (#11)
by caine on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 08:52:29 AM EST

Uhm, doesn't about every predator that exist that live in groups hunt together? I.e Lions, Wolves, etc. And I'm pretty sure "Rooar rowr purr" doesn't qualify as language. Anyone have a clarification why the conclusion 'they had language' can be drawn from them hunting together? Is it a conclusion from the article writer or from some other news outlet?

--

Language particles. (3.00 / 3) (#14)
by killmepleez on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 09:52:40 AM EST

I'm pretty sure "Rooar rowr purr" doesn't qualify as language.
Try telling that to these guys.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
hell (none / 0) (#18)
by Wah on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 01:11:50 PM EST

try telling it to a cat...
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't even attempt it. (none / 0) (#24)
by killmepleez on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:33:31 PM EST

My cat has a master's in Psycholinguistics and very, very sharp claws.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
Psycholinguistics you say? (none / 0) (#28)
by Wah on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 04:50:35 PM EST

yea, I think the cats here know that one too.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
um... no (none / 0) (#17)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:11:38 PM EST

doesn't about every predator that exist that live in groups hunt together?

No, in fact, of all the big cats, lions are the only one who do so.

Bears are also solitary (well, outside of their family unit), and all raptors (hunting birds) are, so are sharks...


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Hm. Read again. (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by caine on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 01:36:16 PM EST

The statement is: Of all predators that live in groups, almost all hunt together.

It's not: All predators live in groups and hunt together.

--

[ Parent ]

whoops sorry, my bad (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 03:43:27 PM EST



It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Call it my fault, but... (none / 1) (#37)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 11:47:08 PM EST

Although my explanation in the article is half-assed, the scientists who actually discovered the little buggers said that they probably had language, if only because of the sophistication of the stone tools found with them. Flint-knapping is a difficult skill to master, and just watching others do it is not going to get you there.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

there is a rule about this biology (2.75 / 4) (#12)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 08:53:29 AM EST

i forget what the rule is called, but basically it goes that species isolated on islands tend to shrink or grow

proof of that can found with these hobbits: giant komodo skeletons, a rat the size of a dog, and stegodon bones (a stegodon is tiny island elephant as big as a pony)

so it really is no surprise that humans or near-humans isolated on islands should either be very little, or very big


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Heh (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by GenerationY on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:25:37 PM EST

It would be cool to talk to one of them about the pygmy elephants.

"Yes" they'd say, "elephants are huge aren't they!"


[ Parent ]

now if you really want to mess with your mind... (3.00 / 4) (#29)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 07:58:27 PM EST

the komodo dragon is a giant monitor lizard, right?

well... around the time these hobbits lived, on nearby australia there were monitor lizards THE LENGTH OF 2 SCHOOlBUSES

so is the komodo dragon an island giant...

OR AN ISLAND DWARF!!??

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH

lol ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Reminds me of my favourite joke (3.00 / 6) (#31)
by GenerationY on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 08:19:26 PM EST

A Sloth was walking home from the pub when he got robbed by a gang of snails who took his wallet.

He went to the police and told them he'd had his wallet stolen.

"What happened?" said the Policeman, "Can you identify your assailants?"
"I don't think so", said the Sloth "It all happened in a flash."

[ Parent ]

my favorite joke (3.00 / 5) (#32)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 09:02:41 PM EST

q: "how many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"

a: "fish"


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

the image (none / 1) (#40)
by auraslip on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 01:13:21 AM EST

of a tribe of hobbits hunting a lizard the size of two school busses is going to be running through my head all night.
124
[ Parent ]
and that shit was REAL! (none / 0) (#42)
by circletimessquare on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 05:06:26 AM EST

also in australia there were 100 foot salt water crocodiles not too long ago... if i were an australian aborgine in that era, i don't think i could sleep EVER


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Maps of the region showing Flores (2.80 / 5) (#15)
by Scrymarch on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 10:42:42 AM EST

Within Indonesia, and at a larger scale including Australia.  It is the first long, large island due west of East Timor.

stat whore ,nt (none / 0) (#38)
by auraslip on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 01:06:28 AM EST


124
[ Parent ]
Truthfully (none / 0) (#48)
by Scrymarch on Sun Oct 31, 2004 at 03:11:58 AM EST

I'm just getting by on stats until I can score some good pure graph action.  Have you got any man?  Come on fella, could you spare me a little Cambodian income distribution chart?

[ Parent ]
Here you go, sir (none / 1) (#49)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Oct 31, 2004 at 10:42:59 AM EST

Cambodia income distribution google cache. The actual site doesn't work for me.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
this is important (1.00 / 4) (#30)
by Liberal Conservative on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 08:05:39 PM EST

we need to get back to our roots as a people

i watched the frodo movie for the first time last weekend and felt an unnerving, almost surreal connection to the hobbits

it turns out that it was a premonition

we are related to miniature humans

perhaps since that part of the world is ancient and small, the asians may be the oldest living hobbit descendants

in turn, the greeks and romans were the next generation, and they were taller with larger penises

then rome burned and they escaped north to europe

we americans descended from europe due to religious beliefs hundreds of years ago, and we grew as well

since 1960 americans have grown 1 inch taller on average and packed on at least 20 additional pounds of muscle

that's a great thing, and we have natural hobbits to thank

i always wondered why i prefered sleeping in small rolled up blankets and living in circular small caves of sorts, but it's just so natural

when i visit caves undergroud i marvel at bats and streams of water

now i know that's my life, it's who i am, who i came from

and i feel special and want to carry on the torch to outer space

miserable failure

signed,
   liberal conservative

cts troll of a thousand screen names (nt) (none / 0) (#33)
by mrt on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 10:18:00 PM EST


-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]
little people (2.75 / 4) (#36)
by tannhaus on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 11:28:43 PM EST

Well, for their sakes I hope we don't find any living members of their species. I can just imagine whorehouses in asia full of them dressed in little schoolgirl outfits.

Midgets (none / 1) (#41)
by Milo Minderbender on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 03:19:30 AM EST

So our early ancestors also had the occasional gene mutation that causes dwarfism too! And we've labeled it a different species? What a publicity sham.

--------------------
This comment is for the good of the syndicate.
species (none / 0) (#47)
by juju2112 on Sat Oct 30, 2004 at 03:06:52 PM EST

Where scientists draw the line as far as what is and what isn't species has always been fairly arbitrary anyway. There are always a bunch of creatures sitting right on the edge of the line that defy the category.

[ Parent ]
Theyre not hobbits (none / 0) (#45)
by mcgrew on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 07:44:15 PM EST

They're Leprechans!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

I canīt help it (none / 0) (#50)
by micromegas on Mon Nov 01, 2004 at 12:08:12 PM EST

but Arthur Machenīs Shining Pyramid comes to mind. I have no idea how developed that island is or about itīs population density, but to think legends of tiny men in caves to be maintained through thousands of years of oral history... I have some doubts that would happen without transformation to mystical creatures (fairies anyone?) associated with the usual mystical abilities. Yet itīs explicitly tiny men... Hm, maybe not so long extinguished after all? Or maybe not at all. Frodo, put away that pointed stick. PUT IT AWAY!!! Argh!!! (runs screaming: IīM NO ELEFANT)
Life has become the ideology of itīs own absence - T.W. Adorno
"Hobbits" Found In Indonesia | 54 comments (47 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest Đ 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!