Make it a Hobbit to Look for the Science

I said “peaceful” Bilbo!

November 11th marks the 65th anniversary of the publication of The Two Towers, the second book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. Central to the story are the Hobbits, peaceful, large-footed people of short stature that love the comforts of home.

Most people accept that Middle Earth and its inhabitants are fantasy, but there’s some scientific evidence that hobbit-like people might have been real. In 2003 scientists discovered a hominin, or species related to humans, that was small in stature. Named Homo floreisiensis and nicknamed “the hobbit”, whether or not this fossil find is a distinct species has been hotly debated among scientists since its discovery.

There’s also some evidence that a volcano was partially responsible for the disappearance of the species and that Komodo dragons might have seen them as prey. Where have I heard a story like this before?

Mixing science and literature? It brings tears to my eyes!

Scientists have found evidence that H. floreisiensis created and used tools, but there’s no word of any gold rings found at any of the archaeological sites. If there were, the find would be precious...

Check out some of the other ways science honors Tolkien’s works. Feeling nostalgic for the films? We’ve got them! Want to research our human relatives? Try our Science databases!

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