Hobbits may be earliest AustraliansHobbits may be earliest Australians
THE tiny hobbit-like humans of Indonesia may have lived in Australia before they became extinct about 11,000 years ago. The startling claim comes from archaeologist Mike Morwood, leader of the team that in 2003 uncovered remains of the 1m-tall hominid at Liang Bua cave on Indonesia's Flores island. They believe the pint-size person - known officially as Homo floresiensis and unofficially as the "Hobbit" - was wiped out by a volcanic eruption that spared their Homo sapiens neighbours. Speaking at a public lecture in Perth, Professor Morwood from the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, raised the prospect that Hobbits colonised Australia before Aboriginal settlers arrived about 60,000 years go. He suggested that the Hobbits may have been pushed out by the bigger people, in part because their population was too small to compete. Professor Roberts said conditions during the north Australian wet season meant that small, ancient remains were unlikely to have survived. He noted that no early human remains have been unearthed in northern Australia and said that even the remains of the giant prehistoric animals, the mega-fauna, were scarce. There is also the troubling question of how the Hobbits would have travelled south from their Indonesian homeland. To date, there's no hard evidence they could sail or raft.