Small Bones, Big Feud

For thousands of years, the bones of the tiny prehistoric people were preserved in a limestone cave on Flores, an Indonesian island. When news of their discovery broke last October, the remains of the 1-m-tall Homo floresiensis, nicknamed "hobbits," jolted the scientific world into rethinking the course of human development. Whether or not these relics from seven individuals, discovered by a team of Australian and Indonesian scientists led by archaeologist Michael Morwood, marked a new species, experts knew they were extremely important - and, it goes without saying, extraordinarily fragile.

The discovery prompted immediate controversy; disbelievers quickly emerged. Among...

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