|Photo credit: © National Geographic Society|
Following legal pressure from the Saul Zaentz Company/Middle-earth Enterprises, a lecture on diminutive primitive humans known as “hobbits” – or Homo floresiensis – is now being renamed.
The free public lecture, originally titled “The Other Hobbit,” was specifically timed to coincide with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – the first of Peter Jackson’s trilogy. But the Saul Zaentz Company and Middle-earth Enterprises, who own some of the rights to JRR Tolkien’s creatures, objected to the use of the word “hobbit” as a generic name for the 1m tall human species.
The lecture has now been renamed “A newly discovered species of Little People – unravelling the legend behind Homo floresiensis,” and will be held at Wellington’s Te Papa museum.
Archaeologists speaking at the lecture include Professor Mike Morwood (University of Wollongong in Australia) and Thomas Sutikna (Pusat Arkeologi Nasional in Indonesia). Additionally, the event will feature two of the principal archaeologists involved in the 2003 discovery of Homo floresiensis on the island of Flores in Indonesia.
Dr Alloway, who has visited Flores twice this year to study volcanic deposits and address such issues as whether the volcanic nature of the island allowed the species to expand, found the controversy over the name to be disappointing.
"I really want to move on from the controversy about not being able to use The Hobbit,” he said. “I kind of went into this rather naively, not really knowing about these name propriety trademarks.
All I want to deliver is something interesting to the New Zealand public, and at a time when everybody is really getting into the celebratory sense of Peter Jackson's movie, which is going to be quite a classic I'd imagine."
While some people may see the term “hobbit” as being “rather opportunistic,” Dr Alloway explained the reason for nicknaming Homo floresiensis the “hobbit” was because the species, which stood just over 1m tall, had large feet and was able to perform complex tasks.
"It's a new dimension to our ancestral roots which we're only just starting to really begin to understand."
For more information on Homo floresiensis, National Geographic posted an interesting article shortly after its discovery: "Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found in Asia."