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12 animals mistaken for mythical creatures

By: Bryan Nelson on June 9, 2010, 1:25 p.m.
fossil homo floresiensis or hobbit

Photo: Ghedoghedo/Wikimedia Commons

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Hobbits, or Homo floresiensis, are the nickname given to a recently discovered species of extinct human found on the Indonesian island of Flores. Although their taxonomy is a subject of fierce debate, many experts now believe that H. floresiensis represents a new branch on the human evolutionary tree. Even more remarkable, these creatures would have lived alongside modern humans (at least as recently as 12,000 years ago). Standing at only a few feet tall, the hobbits are likely the source of local legend of the Ebu Gogo, said to have been a short, hairy, language-poor, cave-dwelling creature. Eerily, some local Flores lore contends that the Ebu Gogo survived and may still exist, hidden in the jungles.