The Flores Hobbit's face revealed

Dec 10, 2012 by Sunanda Creagh
The Flores Hobbit's face revealed
The hobbit’s face, according to a forensic facial approximation. Credit: University of Wollongong

An Australian anthropologist has used forensic facial reconstruction techniques to show, for the first time, how the mysterious Flores 'hobbit' might have once looked.

Homo floresiensis, as the hobbit is officially known, caused a storm of controversy when it was discovered in Flores, Indonesia in 2003. Some argued the hobbit was an entirely new species, while others suggested it may have simply been a diseased specimen of an existing .

Using techniques she has previously applied to help police solve crimes, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong and specialist facial , Dr Susan Hayes, moulded muscle and fat around a model of the hobbit's skull to flesh out her face.

The results show a suprisingly familiar face, with high cheekbones, long ears and a broad nose.

Forensic facial approximation methods helped give an idea of how the muscle and fat intersected with the hobbit’s skull. Credit: University of Wollongong

"She's not what you'd call pretty, but she is definitely distinctive," Dr Hayes said in a statement.

"She's taken me a bit longer than I'd anticipated, has caused more than a few headaches along the way, but I'm pleased with both the methodological development and the final results."

Darren Curnoe, a specialist at the University of , said the face looked more modern than he expected.

"The bones are really quite primitive looking and look a bit like pre-humans that lived two or three million years ago but this new construction looks, to me, surprisingly modern," he said.

"I think it's really interesting to see a new approach founded in and it can actually progress the ways we can understand what looked like. What we have seen, until now, have been artistic interpretations, very beautiful ones, but I think this really takes it to a new level and gives us a more scientific and accurate view of what the hobbit looked like."

Dr Curnoe said that now the majority of researchers accepted that the hobbit was unique and not a diseased human.

"But precisely where it fits in the human evolutionary tree is still to be determined."

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2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 10, 2012
So was this face created by algorithms, or by a person? Because if it was made by a person, then it wouldn't be surprising to get a result that looked like a "modern human".
1 / 5 (3) Dec 10, 2012
A few years ago a TV crew went to Indonesia to check this out and very close to the site of the dig found a pygmy tribe with a long history in the area. The "Flores Hobbits" were basically debunked as poorly researched science. Odd that this article even appeared.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2012
The "Flores Hobbits" were basically debunked as poorly researched science.

Good luck getting your science facts from TV shows. ಠ_ಠ
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2012
But this "woman" looks distinctly masculine? And, how do they even know that it had a protruding nose?

"Modern forensic methods" rely on applying a statistically verified thickness of tissue at different places. Now using these modern-human-thicknesses on something so different, how can this yield reliable results?

Clearly the jaw is much larger in proportion to the cranial volume compared to the corresponding measure for a modern human.