A facial approximation of the female hobbit (Photo: From the University of Wollongong)Perhaps to the delight of J.R.R. Tolkien fans, hobbits are real. Or at least they were about 17,000 years ago.
Facial anthropologist Susan Hayes revealed a 2D rendering of an ancient female human on Monday that researchers have been calling "the hobbit." Hayes spent eight months creating the face based on skeletal remains of the tiny human species -- called Homo floresiensis.
"She's not pretty," Dr. Hayes says, adding, "She doesn't have those hyper-feminine features such as big eyes; there isn't much of a forehead."
Earlier artistic renderings of the ancient human depicted her features as being more monkey-like, but Hayes' research suggested her hobbit lady was much more human looking.
[Related: Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit,' A First Look]
The species earned her hobbit nickname from her small, squat stature. Experts estimate she weighed between 66 and 77 pounds, was three feet tall and was 30 years old.
This image reflects Hayes' 'facial approximation' method (Photo: From the University of Wollongong)
Scientists still aren't entirely sure whether the ancient human represents and extinct part of the human family tree or if it is an offshoot of Homo erectus, according to Live Science reporting. But they have determined that the remains represent its own species -- something that was up for debate before scientists further examined the ancient human's brain cavity. Experts also determined the female is not a Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) after confirming her wrist bones are different -- bolstering confidence she belongs in her own species.
The hobbit face, which took Hayes longer to work on than she initially anticipated, was unveiled this week at the Australian Archaeological Conference at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. Dr. Hayes used high-resolution 3D imaging and CT scan data from the female hobbit skull, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Hayes was then able to reconstruct the skull using a computer graphic program.
Bilbo Baggins' wife she is not, this hobbit creature shares similar size and stature -- and likely not much else. However, you could argue that since her remains survived several thousand years and are now famous, she too has experienced a great adventure.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens everywhere on December 14.
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