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Lord of the Rings

Scientists Hope To Settle "Hobbit" Debate 164

Several readers wrote in with news of the debate around the identity of an ancient woman whose diminutive skeleton was found on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004. Fox News reports that Australian scientists have discovered a subterranean chamber that may contain DNA proof that will settle the question of whether "the Hobbit," as the specimen is called, actually is a representative of a new branch of the human family, or not. The find's discoverers named the putative new race Homo floresiensis. Others in the anthropological field question this identification, arguing that the meter-tall Hobbit was a modern human who had something wrong with her. In a paper just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with one of the original discovery team as co-author, researchers say they have compared the Hobbit's skull to those of modern humans with various ailments such as microcephaly, and that the Hobbit is different.

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