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Archaeologist who discovered the Hobbit dies
2013-07-27 0:00

By Sunanda Creagh | The Conversation

The archaeologist who helped discover the extinct Homo species Flores Hobbit, Professor Mike Morwood, has died after a struggle with cancer.

The Hobbit was thought to have lived around 18,000 years ago.

New Zealand-born Professor Morwood, who was based at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong, was also a world expert in Australian rock art.

Professor Morwood was based at the University of New England in 2003 when he and a team of Indonesian researchers excavated the Liang Bua Cave on the island of Flores and found a set of curious bones that came to be known as Homo floresiensis or the Hobbit.

The discovery would eventually lead to a radical reassessment of human evolution.

“He was interested in the big questions about happened in human evolution. We know Homo erectus was Indonesia but they never made it to Australia, while Aboriginal people did. So uncovering what happened in between was his real interest and that’s why he ended up on the remote island of Flores,” said Alice Gorman, lecturer in Archaeology at Flinders University, who knew Professor Morwood personally.

“It wasn’t like he walked into a cave and saw a new species. It required a huge amount of research, and a massive excavation, in order to piece together the evidence,” she said.

“There was something obviously different about them and they had to rule out the possibility that these bones belonged to children or somebody with some kind of medical condition,” said Dr Gorman.

“One of his main collaborators was Prof Peter Brown at the University of New England. He and Peter started to investigate why these bones looked so different. They eventually realised that they might actually be looking at a completely new species.”

Dr Gorman said human archaeology usually centred on two theories: that all humans began in Africa or the multi-regional theory, in which humans developed concurrently in different parts of the world.

“When the Hobbit was found, it was a whole new element to consider in those competing theories,” she said.


Read the full article at: theconversation.com

READ: Real-life ’Hobbit’ face revealed

"Hobbits in the Haystack - Homo floresiensis and Human Evolution": Human Evolution Symposium - 2009

(Mike Morwood @ 9:40)

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Homo floresiensis - Wikipedia
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