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Secrets of prehistoric ‘hobbits’ revealed at Te Papa

Nov 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

LITTLE WONDER: An archaeologist uncovers fossilised bones at a site in Indonesia

THEY are short of stature with large hairy hands and feet – but these are no fantasy creatures from Tolkien’s lore.

Homo floresiensis – dubbed hobbits – are close relatives of modern humans, and Wellingtonians can enter their world at a free public lecture at Te Papa this Saturday.

Fossilised bones of this hominin species were discovered in 2004 on the Indonesian island of Flores to the astonishment of the scientific world.

In their talk ‘Unravelling the Secrets of Homo Floresiensis’, Professor Mike Morwood from the University of Wollongong and Thomas Sutikna from Pusat Arkeologi Nasional in Indonesia will  give attendees a vivid picture of the species.

The fossils’ discovery launched a worldwide debate into whether or not they were a separate species, and how they were related to us.

Geologist Dr Brent Alloway, Associate Professor at the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington, organised the talk and is expecting that the audience will gain a rare insight into cutting-edge archaeology.

“It’s a remarkable modern discovery, right on our back doorstep in Southeast Asia,” Dr Alloway says.

“We’re starting to get a good picture of what our distant ancestors were like – how they lived and what they looked like.”

There will be a replica skeleton of H. floresiensis, as well as various fossils and hand tools from the Indonesian sites.

The lecture starts at 1pm at Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre. Dr Alloway originally planned one lecture at 3pm but this filled so quickly he organised another.

The 3pm lecture will also be streamed live online, so anyone in New Zealand or around the world can join in.

Dr Alloway says the Saturday afternoon lectures will appeal to archaeology buffs of all ages.

“We hope this talk will get kids inspired to take up an interest in archaeology,” he says.

“Everyone wants to be an archaeologist as a kid, but now the new discoveries are closer to us than ever.”

The lecture is free but bookings are essential. Email with “1pm Te Papa Lecture” in the subject line, or phone 472 1000.

The 3pm lecture will be streamed live at:


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