The miniature race of Hobbits in The Lord Of The Rings movies actually existed 18,000 years ago, scientists have discovered.

The species in Peter Jackson's film adaptation of JRR TOLKIEN's novels were regarded as fictional creations until Australian researchers unearthed a previously unknown species of miniature humans, which lived in the remote Indonesian isle of Flores and were stalked by giant elephants and rats.

Anthropologist DR ROBERT FOLEY says, "They've been nicknamed Hobbits after the Lord of the Rings species, but their official name is Homo Floresiensis.

"Flores was a kind of lost world. It was home to a range of archaic creatures extinct elsewhere, often morphed into dwarves or giant forms. We think of humans being a particular size. This is far smaller than anything we see today and yet it survived for thousands of years."

28/10/2004 09:19