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Did giant storks once dine on hobbits?

Giant storks may have hunted a hobbit-like species of humans discovered in Indonesia, say scientists. The giant storks, now extinct, were about six feet tall and carnivorous.

Newscom/File

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In the "Lord of the Rings" books, hobbits were rescued by giant eagles, but real-life hobbits might have been hunted by giant storks, scientists find.

The fossil remains of what may have been a hobbit-like species of human were discovered in 2003 at the Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. In that cave, scientists also unearthed a large number of bird fossils — including 20,000- to 50,000-year-old wing and leg bones from what appears to have been a stork nearly 6 feet tall (1.8 meters).

"From the size of its bones, we initially were expecting a giant raptor, which are commonly found on islands, not a stork," said Hanneke Meijer, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

IN PICTURES: Unusual birds

The carnivorous giant (Leptoptilos robustus) was a hitherto unknown species of marabou stork, among the largest birds alive on the planet. [Image of giant stork]

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