Archaeologists from institutions in both Australia and Indonesia are digging on several islands in the Indonesian Archipelago.
TONY JONES: Well the scientists who uncovered the early human species called the `Hobbit` are back in the field, and already they`re promising new discoveries. The archaeologists are drawn from institutions in both Australia and Indonesia.
They`re digging on several islands in the Indonesian Archipelago, and once again they`re hoping to rewrite human history. Jeff Waters reports.
JEFF WATERS: It`s been four years since Australian and Indonesian scientists found the remains of several tiny hominids in a cave on the Indonesia island of Flores. They were labelled hobbits because of their size, and intelligent because of their tools. Now the scientists who found them say there are more species to be discovered.
PROFESSOR MIKE MORWOOD, UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG: There will be similar hominids almost certainly, but different species on Timor, on Sulawesi, Sumbawa and many other islands and islands in South East Asia.
JEFF WATERS: Recent disagreements with the Indonesian scientific establishment appear to have been overcome.
INDONESIAN SCIENTIST: The hobbit, it came from Sulawesi.
AUSTRALIAN SCIENTIST: A prediction, maybe wrong, maybe wrong.
JEFF WATERS: So teams from both countries have fanned out across several islands where similar caves and similar stone artefacts have been found.
MIKE MORWOOD: It can be anticipated that there will be a whole rage of new human species found in this part of the world, and that is a really exciting prospect.
JEFF WATERS: One scientist who initially questioned whether hobbits were human, supports the possibility.
PROFESSOR COLIN GROVES, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: I think his chances are quite good. I wouldn`t say nearly certain.
JEFF WATERS: Although there are 13 known human species including our own, only three of them have been found in South East Asia. To find more in the region would force another review of textbooks. Back in the cave where the hobbits were discovered, scientists will be exploring a new lower chamber to try to recover hobbit DNA samples.
MIKE MORWOOD: To actually get DNA from another human species that`s related to us but split from us a long, long time ago has all sort of profound implications.
COLIN GROVES: Unfortunately the chances are slender but, you know, he keeps trying.
JEFF WATERS: As hobbits are believed to have died about 13,000 years ago and as DNA degrades rapidly in warm weather, finding a pure sample will be a difficult task. Jeff Waters, Lateline.
Source: www.abc.net.au (28 Juni 2007)