Scientists have discovered more remains of the strange, small people
that once lived on Flores island, Indonesia.
The announcement last year detailing a single, partial skeleton caused
a sensation when it was claimed to be a human species new to science.
Homo floresiensis, as it was called, was little more than a
metre tall and lived 18,000 years ago.
Now, the same team tells Nature journal it has skeletal remains from
at least nine of the "Hobbit-like" individuals.
The new discoveries include missing parts of the old skeleton -
designated LB1 after the caved dig site at Liang Bua - and a
collection of other bones, such as jaw and cranial fragments, a
vertebra, arm and leg bones, toes and fingers.
The team, led by Michael Morwood from the University of New England,
Armidale, Australia, says the specimens have helped build a more rounded
picture of LB1, with additional evidence of the little people's hunting
and fire-making abilities.
The researchers say they are now more convinced than ever that
Homo floresiensis represents a distinct species and not some
diseased individual of modern human (Homo sapiens) as some
sceptics have suggested.