Friday, December 14, 2012

The Other Hobbit

The first installment of The Hobbit has hit theaters today, but scientists continue studying the real-life ancient "hobbit," homo floresiensis of Indonesia, to find out more about the individual.  Susan Hayes, an anthropologist from Australia, has used her background in forensic science to produce a facial approximation of the h.floresiensis specimen, who lived around 18,000 years ago, and was about three feet tall, 70 pounds, and female:

This reconstruction was created by making a 3D image of the skull, then constructing a face over this image.  The key was determining to use the features of modern humans, rather than monkey-like features, as artists had perviously done.  This decision seems reasonable, since the hobbit is more closely related to humans than chimpanzees, for example - modern humans provide the best model for facial reconstruction.   Some of the most notable features of this female are her small eyes and small forehead.  This work is exciting in that it quite literally puts a face on a fairly recent relative of ours, but should be taken with a grain of salt at this point; it has been released without first being published in a peer-reviewed journal, and it remains quite approximate in nature.

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