Archaeologist 'hobbit' discoverer dies

2013-07-24 09:26

(Agus Suparto, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Sydney - The Australian archaeologist who rocked the science world with his discovery of a tiny new species of human known as the "hobbit" has died after a year-long battle with cancer, his university said on Wednesday.

Mike Morwood, the professor who was instrumental in the discovery of Homo floresiensis in 2003, died on Tuesday, the University of Wollongong said. He was 62.

"It was the adventure of a lifetime for Mike," long-time colleague Bert Roberts said of the revelation on the Indonesian island of Flores which shook the scientific community and the world's understanding of human evolution.

"The fact that he actually could discover a brand new species of human, I mean, how many archaeologists and anthropologists can ever do that?

"It really is a very, very rare treat and Mike was just absolutely overjoyed to be able to go through that adventure, because it's never to be repeated."

Bizarre find

Roberts, who is director of the Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS) at Wollongong, said Morwood was an inspiration to many of the early-career researchers who worked on the bizarre find in Flores, including a generation of young Indonesian researchers.

New Zealand-born Morwood, who earned his PhD from the Australian National University in Canberra, was also an expert on Aboriginal rock art, having carried out extensive research in Queensland and Western Australia states earlier in his career.

But he is best known for leading the team of Australian and Indonesian researchers that uncovered the partial skeleton of a 1m tall woman at Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003.

A further six partial skeletons of the tiny humans, who weighed just 30kg and had the brain the size of a chimp's, were later found, in addition to skeletons of megafaunal species including an extinct close relative of modern elephants and giant tortoise.

The extraordinary discovery sparked an intellectual battle that has raged ever since with one side declaring the "hobbits" - whose nickname is inspired by the little people of JRR Tolkien's tales - a separate species of human while others argue they were just diseased Homo sapiens, with a disorder that made them midget-like.

Morwood was described as an exceptional archaeologist and researcher.

"In the areas he chose to focus he was inevitably a game-changer... who made an extraordinary contribution to their field," said University of Western Australia academic Alistair Paterson.
Read more on:    archaeology
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are in a curious mood and you want to be the first to know what is happening. You may find yourself drawn into cyber chatting...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.