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13 March 2005
Hobbit skeleton 'damaged'

An Australian archaeologist has drafted a damning letter describing extensive damage to the bones of the 'Hobbit', the 18,000-year-old hominid remains found on an Indonesian island. But his Indonesian counterpart has refused to send it, fearing a scientific backlash. The letter, written by Mike Morwood of the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, accuses paleoanthropologist Teuku Jacob of Gadjah Mada University in Yogjakarta of causing the damage. Along with Indonesian archaeologist Radien Soejono, Professor Morwood co-led the team that discovered the ancient skeleton on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003.
     Despite documentary evidence and contradiction from key scientists, Professor Jacob denies damaging the delicate remains after he took them to his laboratory last year. "The fossils were not damaged," Professor Jacob said. "We have pictures taken until the last day (they were in my laboratory) and they are intact." He was reportedly forced to return the specimens last month after pressure from the international media and Indonesian politicians, who were embarrassed by the incident. Tony Djubiantono, director of the International Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta, disagreed with Professor Jacob's contention that the damage occurred as the fossils were being transported back to the centre.

Source: The Australian (11 March 2005)

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