The Hobbit Of Liang Bua

Many have likened Flores to the world’s real-life Jurassic Park; a land full of secrets, mystery and wonder, where rugged terrains lay wildly untouched, dense jungles shelter mystifying creatures that still roam its lands, winged beings with fangs take to the skies in thick clouds at sunset and giant eels live in abundance in the depths of its mysterious lakes. Aside to the much sought-after and dangerously venomous Komodo Dragons, it is also here in Flores that the first ever human hobbit was found.

Photo Courtesy of Flores Tourism

Back in 2003, a team of Australian and Indonesian archaeologists, geologists and paleoanthropologists discovered a family of hobbits in the limestone caves located deep within the Manggarai district. All that remained of the hobbit family were merely skeletons but it was an astounding found indeed. The cave, also known as “Liang Bua” or “Cold Cave” in the local language, was home to a new kind of human species: the Homo Floresiensis.

Photo courtesy of Nature;

The Hobbit of Liang Bua was the size of a 3-year old child, 106 cm in height, with a brain volume less than a third of a modern person’s. The tiny adult female skeleton, which resembled fossils dating more than 3 million years ago, turned out to have lived only 18,000 years ago when modern humans already existed.

Photo courtesy of Daily Mail UK

Their disappearance coincides with that of other local fauna such as the Stegodon, the giant marabou stork and various vulture species. The loss was originally attributed to a volcanic eruption that occurred on Flores approximately 12,000 years ago but the recently published dates nullify this suggestion. Instead, it is now considered possible that the arrival of modern humans played a role. Although there is no evidence of modern humans in Liang Bua cave until 11,000 years ago, our species was moving through the region about 50,000 years ago.


Old Manggaraian myths and tales about small people living in caves are still doing the rounds. Further research may bring to light whether the ancestors of the Manggaraian people really have met the hobbit in a not so long past gone. Till today, Manggaraian locals still warn their kids of “tiny people” reportedly sneaking in to farms and orchards to steal fruits, local arak and sometimes, small children.

Liang Bua can be reached from Ruteng by car or motorbike. It is 13 km from Ruteng and the drive takes less than 40 minutes. There is also frequent public transport to Liang Bua or take a bemo (mini-bus) in the direction of Ruteng-Ranggi/Akel. You can also opt to go there with your own private chauffeur-driven car and guide or by motorbike. From Labuan Bajo, Ruteng is a 4-hour drive on the Trans Flores Highway.

Want to share your photos and videos of Flores with us? Submit your videos and photos of Labuan Bajo, the Komodo National Park and Flores via our Instagram and Facebook page and stand a chance to be featured. Join us next week with FloresPlus Magazine as we Rediscover Hidden Paradise and don’t forget to tag #floresplus!

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