Hobbits: Fiction or reality?

Australian and Indonesian scientists have discovered a species of tiny &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/society/2003/01/21/42332.html ' target=_blank>human beings who lived on the remote Indonesian island of Flores 18,000 years ago.

The UK magazine Nature reports that skeletal remains show that the hominins, nicknamed by some scientists as 'hobbits', were only one metre tall, had a brain one third the size of that of modern humans, and lived on an isolated island long after Homo sapiens had migrated through the South Pacific region, China Radio International reported Friday, reports Xinhua News.

According to Reuters, the small hominids, dubbed "Flores man," were first unearthed in a limestone cave on the remote island of Flores in 2003 by Australian and Indonesian scientists and the findings published to great acclaim this week in the journal Nature.

"They are now stored in a steel cabinet in the office," Thomas Sutikna, the archaeologist who first discovered the prized skull of a "Flores man," told Reuters on Friday, referring to the National Archaeology office in Jakarta.

"In 2004 we also found the lower part of a jaw, parts of legs and arms and some teeth."

The findings have stunned anthropologists, as the remains represent a new creature more closely resembling the fictional hobbits of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/society/2003/01/10/41876.html ' target=_blank>Lord of the Rings trilogy than modern humans.

Small tools and the remains of a pygmy elephant, or Stegodon, hunted by the hominids for food have also been unearthed.

Speculative minds raise the possibility that even today, in some remote corner of Earth, a primitive line of humans remains to be discovered.

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