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Meet Homo floresiensis

In a new study, researchers have talked about the discovery and dating of the hobbit. She's not a classic beauty, her chin is non-existent and her forehead less than flattering, but a new evidence-based image of the tiny hobbit species - known officially as Homo floresiensis - is about scientific accuracy not aesthetics.

2D image of Homo floresiensis was created by facial anthropologist Susan Hayes [Credit: The Age]
Released on Monday, the 2D image was created by facial anthropologist Susan Hayes from the University of Wollongong, after working on the project for eight months.

"She's not pretty," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Hayes as saying.

"She doesn't have those hyper-feminine features such as big eyes; there isn't much of a forehead," she said.

With a background in forensic science, Hayes created the image using high-resolution 3D imaging and CT scan data obtained from a female hobbit skull that dates back about 17,000 years.

The information was loaded into a computer graphic program, which allowed Hayes to reconstruct the skull. The face and its features were then added, based on the skull's structural attributes.

"Compared to other archaic hominins, there was a remarkable amount of information there," she said.

Professor Richard Roberts and Dr Zenobia Jacobs from the University of Wollongong talk about the discovery and dating of the hobbit.

She also analysed existing portraits by other palaeo-artists and said that the earlier depictions were largely dominated by monkey features, whereas her findings suggested modern anatomical features were more appropriate.

"As a Homo floresiensis she is closer to us than to a chimpanzee, which is our closest relative," Dr Hayes said.

"She is certainly more us than them," she said.

The remains of Homo floresiensis were unearthed by Professor Mike Morwood and the Liang Bua archaeological team in Flores, Indonesia, in 2003.

"She's taken me a bit longer than I'd anticipated, has caused more than a few headaches along the way, but I'm pleased with both the methodological development and the final results," Hayes said.

Homo floresiensis lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until about 17,000 years ago. Nicknamed hobbits because of their diminutive size - at less than a metre tall - remains of at least 13 members of the species were unearthed between 2001 and 2004.

Source: ANI [December 10, 2012]

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