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Were 'Hobbits' a separate species ?

Posted on Saturday, 12 January, 2013 | Comment icon 16 comments | News tip by: Still Waters

Image credit: Ryan Somma

It is becoming more and more likely that Homo floresiensis was indeed a separate species of hominid.

Discovered ten years ago on the island of Flores in Indonesia, the 18,000-year-old bones of a woman and several other individuals with skulls a third of the size of modern humans have come to be named after Tolkein's pint-sized protagonists. There has been a great deal of debate over whether these individuals were our direct ancestors, but now it seems that the evidence is pointing towards Homo floresiensis being a distinct hominid species separate to Homo sapiens.

Hobbits are believed to have arrived in Indonesia up to 1 million years ago and went extinct only 17,000 years ago. Their wrists were not really shaped well enough to help them to grip objects or bear loads, and while their tools have been discovered by archaeologists it is thought that this anatomical disadvantage would have restricted their technical capabilities.

"While film buffs have been arguing over the need to make The Hobbit into three different films, anthropologists have been busy debating the origins of real hobbits, whose remains were discovered in Indonesia only a decade ago."

  View: Full article |  Source: Popular Science

  Discuss: View comments (16)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Tsa-La-Gie Oyate on 14 January, 2013, 6:07
Not sure if Hobbits ever existed, other than fairy tales and myths of "Little people" are likely based on miniature-sized adults who do exist under 4.6 feet tall. But the difference is a "race" of smaller-height humans with other distinct features: the Hobbits have more body hair including some grew on their large feet. And not only lived in a distant island of Indonesia, this race of little people are reported worldwide, further adds up to the mystery of their past existence.
Comment icon #8 Posted by BNDGK on 8 February, 2013, 16:59
Wow! I've been waiting for this for so long! Finally! I mean Tolkien actually recorded the facts about these people. The lineage, the differences in the families! Very precise with his writing.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Abramelin on 8 February, 2013, 17:21
It's interesting that in Indonesia these little people were called "Ebu Gogo" and in Africa "Agogwe".
Comment icon #10 Posted by sewampi on 20 March, 2013, 16:22
Folktales from the Indonesian island of Flores tell of a mysterious race of little people called the "Ebu Gogo," who abducted children and spoke in murmurs. Scientists began to take the myths more seriously when in 2003, the remains of a new humanoid species called was discovered in caves on the island. Fossil dating suggests that H. floresiensis may have lived alongside modern humans as recently as 12,000 years ago. However, since the discovery whether the specimen was a human with an abnormally small head or represents a new species in the human family tree. The diminutive crea... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by Collateral Damage on 20 March, 2013, 20:27
Size of the brain is mainly important if equivalent to the body, right? So they were short with small brains. Does this mean they might of had some kind of intelligence?
Comment icon #12 Posted by kane9 on 26 December, 2013, 22:52
Island dwarfism of H. Erectus seems the most likely explanation of the hobbits from what I have read but that would mean that Erectus managed to cross Wallace's line.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Peter B on 27 December, 2013, 4:01
A few years ago I went to a talk by a leading Australian anthropologist (Colin Groves). His opinion, based on comparisons of skeletons, was that the hobbits were descended from the more primitive Homo habilis. This, of course, raises even more intriguing questions about how the hobbits got to Flores.
Comment icon #14 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 28 December, 2013, 2:14
How about as a very superior sort of hunting dog for larger versions of homo? Or in some other commensal role? Or maybe just as lunch-on-the-hoof. There's no real reason to think they existed in isolation from larger humans.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Peter B on 28 December, 2013, 10:09
Mmmm! Short long pig! In terms of sheer grotesqueness (if that isn't a word, it is now) I love it! But the problem is that the hobbits likely only evolved to their tiddly stature after arriving on Flores.

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