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Tiny new species of human found

Last updated on: October 28, 2004 16:18 IST

In one of the most spectacular fossil finds in recent times, scientists have found fossil skeletons of a tiny human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child, a report said on Thursday.

The hobbit-like humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia as recently as 13,000 years ago, National Geographic News reported.

Australian and Indonesian researchers, it said, discovered bones of the miniature humans in a cave on Flores, an island midway between Asia and Australia.

The tiny human is believed to be an extinct Asian offshoot of Homo erectus, the forerunners of Homo sapiens, as modern man is called.

But, he should be classified as a separate species of Homo, as he was entirely different from either Homo erectus or Homo sapiens, a report in the British science journal Nature said.

Scientists have determined that the first skeleton they found belongs to a species of human completely new to science.

Named Homo floresiensis, after the island on which it was found, the tiny human has also been dubbed by dig workers as the 'hobbit', after the tiny creatures from the Lord of the Rings book, the report in the National Geographic News said.

The original skeleton, a female, was just a metre tall, weighed about 25 kilograms and was around 30 years old at the time of her death 18,000 years ago.

The skeleton, the report said, was found in the same sediment deposits on Flores that have also been found to contain stone tools and the bones of dwarf elephants, giant rodents and Komodo dragons.

Homo floresienses has been described as one of the "most spectacular discoveries in paleoanthropology in half a century" and the most extreme human ever discovered.

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