Mike Morwood: Professor unearthed the real Hobbit

Doug Hobbs, Claire Smith, Harriet Veitch

    Research output: Other contribution

    Abstract

    In 2003, deep in a cavern that was deep in a jungle that was deep on a remote Indonesian island, Professor Mike Morwood, leading a joint Australian-Indonesian archaeological expedition, discovered the Hobbit.

    One of the group, E. Wahyu Saptomo, scraped clay away from a tiny skull, so old and buried so long that it was like a wet paper towel, and assumed it was that of a child. Back in the laboratory, however, tests showed that this and its attendant bones came instead from a tiny but fully grown person, of a species now known as Homo floresiensis (after that island, Flores) but quickly dubbed the Hobbit by the media.

    Among other things, it showed Morwood had been right in following a hunch derived from his reading of the early work of Eugene Dubois (discoverer of Java man). Morwood then started to excavate sites with potential for information on Homo erectus, part of the evolutionary trail to Homo sapiens.

    Along with more bones, the cavern, known locally Liang Bua, also held stone tools that were similar to others found around the world in Homo erectus sites - the important difference was that the Flores tools were tiny, the right size for people around a metre tall with a brain about the size of a grapefruit.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherThe Sydney Morning Herald
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013

    Keywords

    • Mike Morwood
    • Homo floresiensis
    • archaeology

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