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…

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…

Jaws, DNA, & Diversity: Best Paleoanthropology Discoveries of 2015!

  In the study of human evolution, 2015 was an insane year. Paleoanthropologists made discoveries that increased our knowledge about everything from stone tools to Neandertal ancestry. The announcements were surprising, enlightening, and drawn from all corners of the scientific discipline. Some discoveries were those of new fossils, while others drew from ancient DNA, and others still reconstructed…

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…

Meet the Hobbit: 5 Facts about Homo floresiensis

She has been called a hobbit, a deformed human, and even an “alien from Earth.” Discovered in 2003 on the Indonesian island of Flores, her bones have sparked debates about who she is, how she came to be here, and what her relation is to us. Her name is LB1, informally known as the hobbit, and she…