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Hobbit-like Human
APRIL 2005
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Evolutionary Highway
In some cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett

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Hobbit-like Human

   Being on site during a groundbreaking story gave me an emotional high. The scientists started finding more pieces of Homo floresiensis. They had excavated the skull, mandible, and a number of post-cranial pieces, but then they started coming down onto the shoulders. At that point, they more or less knew where the rest of the body was. There was this energy on the site. People couldn't wait to wake up and get to work, and nobody wanted to leave in the afternoon. History was being made, and I was there to witness it.    I wanted to go back to Indonesia and do some follow-up photographs so our art department could create a scale model comparing Homo floresiensis with the average modern human adult. We wanted to work with the original bones, but that never happened because a researcher took them to study and wouldn't give them back to the scientists who found them. A lot of politics surround the different theories of human evolution, and this researcher is one who doesn't want to believe that Homo floresiensis represents a new human species. (See Did You Know?)    I ended up getting this story because of some last-minute decisions and good timing. I was just about to head out to the Dmanisi excavation site in the republic of Georgia when the editors at National Geographic called me in. They'd just heard about the remains of a tiny human in Indonesia and wanted me to check it out on my way. So six hours later I had all the arrangements made and was ready to go, along with a TV crew that had been put together on the fly.