UOW hobbit makes it big in Japan

By Sam Hall
Updated November 5 2012 - 1:11pm, first published April 26 2010 - 12:24am
A model of an adult female hobbit at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Japan.
UOW hobbit makes it big in Japan

For the first time, people in Japan have the chance to come face to face with the human "hobbit", a miniature species first discovered by University of Wollongong and Indonesian researchers in 2004.And we could soon see a replica in the Illawarra.The Homo floresiensis exhibit in Tokyo includes an anatomically correct model of the hobbit, a 1.1m tall female adult who existed on the Indonesian island of Flores until about 18,000 years ago.Other discoveries exhibited at the National Museum of Nature and Science (NMNS) include a giant rat, similar in size to a household cat.The reconstruction involved careful measurements of skeletal elements and the combined efforts of palaeoanthropologists, anatomists and artists.The original findings were made during a nine-year period from 2001 to 2005 and 2007 to 2010, according to UOW professor in archaeology Mike Morwood."There have been several reconstructions done before but this time they went to extraordinary lengths to get it correct," he said.Remains from the hobbit, and the other findings, were recovered from an 11m-deep excavation of the Pleistocene deposits of Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores."There was also a giant (Malibu) stork bird, a pygmy elephant (Stegodon), a Komodo dragon and a giant rat around the size of a cat," Prof Morwood said.The reconstruction featured variations to some of the original estimates from the hobbit."The brain is 420 cubic centimetres and the nose is a little broader ... The face is accurate in bone structure as far as they're concerned," Prof Morwood said.Prof Morwood arrived back in the Illawarra yesterday, after giving a series of lectures at the opening of the exhibition.He said he would consider approaching UOW to buy a replica of the reconstruction, at a cost of about $13,000."It cost the museum well over $100,000 to make that model so if we can get a replica at a fraction of the price, it would be great," he said.

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