Nightfall in the Hobbit Cave

“This is what Homo floresiensis must have felt like,” a paleoanthropologist mused through the darkness. It is almost 8pm on a Thursday and I am sitting on the floor of the cave known as Liang Bua. Other researchers stand only a meter from me, but I cannot see them, my eyes have yet to adjust…

A Day at Liang Bua

In 2004, the discovery of a tiny hominin catapulted the limestone cave of Liang Bua into the scientific spotlight. Few people realize, however, that Liang Bua’s scientific history extends both long before the hobbit’s discovery and continues unfolding to the present day. On a recent trip to the cave, where I was hoping to learn more…

Learning About the Hobbits of Flores

“Oh, this is absolutely bizarre,” scientist Bert Roberts exclaimed, referring to the fossil species Homo floresiensis. Bizarre is a word that sums up the floresiensis creatures (known as the hobbits) quite nicely. These primitive hominins–with their small brains, huge feet, and tiny stature–were discovered almost accidently in 2003, and they were completely unexpected. “We would have been less…

The Hobbit is Real: 4 Reasons Why the Mata Menge Fossils Matter

  New fossils have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. The bones appear to be an ancestor of the hominin species named Homo floresiensis (known as the hobbits)! The bones–some teeth and part of a jaw–were uncovered in an area called Mata Menge, only 74 kilometers from the cave in which the hobbits themselves had been found back…

The Moment the Hobbit was Discovered

The discovery of hominin fossils fascinates me. The moment a bone is exposed, freed from its sedimentary tomb for the first time in thousands–or even millions of years–is a special moment. In the history of paleoanthropology, these moments–particularly the who, where, what, and why of these moments, vary considerably. Sometimes, a primitive face is exposed after a blasting of limestone rock, other…