Unveiling the “Hobbit” Skeleton

Orcs, dwarves and elves will take a back seat at Stony Brook University tonight as top researchers from around the world meet on Long Island for a discussion on human evolution and the unveiling of the "Hobbit" skeleton.

The symposium highlight will be the viewing of the first-ever 3-D cast of the controversial "Hobbit" skeleton.

“We’ll do our best to separate fact from myth on the controversial issues surrounding this prehistoric hominin, which has gained international celebrity status,” said William Jungers, Chair of the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook.

Since the discovery on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, scientists have been analyzing whether it represents a separate human species. Because of its tiny stature it was quickly dubbed the “Hobbit,” from the creature in the books by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The "Hobbit," nicknamed “Flo,” had a brain about a third of the size of modern humans, according to Stony Brook's Web site. The skeleton was dated to be 17,000 years old.

Some scientists believe it may simply be the remains of a human suffering from a genetic illness that causes the body and brain to shrink.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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