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Palaeontology

'Hobbits' were a distinct species after all

November 19, 2015 | Comment icon 13 comments



The Indonesian cave where the specimens were found. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Rosino / Flickr
New research has indicated that 'hobbit' remains found inside a cave actually do belong to a new species.
Ever since the fossil remains of a small hominid were discovered inside a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores back in 2003, paleoanthropologists have struggled to determine whether the skeleton belonged to a new species or to a modern human suffering from a growth disorder.

Dating back 18,000 years and with a brain the size of a grapefruit, the unusual specimen was initially given the name Homo floresiensis in the belief that it was a genuinely new species of primate.

Since then however further studies have cast doubt on this assertion, instead suggesting that its abnormally small head and body are more likely to be the result of a rare medical condition.
Fast forward to the present day and now scientists believe that they may have finally cracked the mystery once and for all thanks to a new in-depth analysis of the specimen's teeth.

According to their findings, the hobbits possessed distinctly different teeth to modern humans with traits more akin to Homo erectus - the earliest confirmed ancestor of modern humans.

The researchers concluded that the ancestors of Homo floresiensis, having become restricted to living on isolated islands, underwent dramatic dwarfism which saw their bodies shrink from 5.4ft to 3.6ft and their brains from 52 cubic inches to only 26 cubic inches.

"For me, this work will turn the tide about the question of evolutionary origin of H. floresiensis," said study lead author Yousuke Kaifu of Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.

Source: Live Science | Comments (13)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by AustinHinton 6 years ago
It makes you wonder how many branches of pre-humans died off to make room for us Most likely a few, our family bush is quite extensive. And new members are added on an almost yearly basis.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Gingitsune 6 years ago
Back in those days where surviving the next season was never guaranteed, all competitors were eliminated. Or mated with until no pure blood was left.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Infernal Gnu 6 years ago
YAY! They made it to species status! I want to congratulate them personally but they are no longer around.
Comment icon #7 Posted by DieChecker 6 years ago
Did they locate the hobbit caves by their round doors?
Comment icon #8 Posted by coolguy 6 years ago
Very cool great find
Comment icon #9 Posted by Silver Surfer 6 years ago
WOW! look at that cave! Epic.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Athena1979 6 years ago
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS3l5CsXMetKY-ToA5p7jzHbUDcy1rnm9jpaNwDCNvHb8GN9h4p My precious!
Comment icon #11 Posted by Saitung 6 years ago
Due to the way today's science approaches the unknown, it will always be last to the table. This is great news, OLD news, but great news. Vietnam helicopter pilots reported running into these beings during the war. There's also been a couple of resident biologists onsite there now for years.
Comment icon #12 Posted by DieChecker 6 years ago
A lot of kids have heads that are that small, but they seem to talk, fight, plot, lie, sneak, and find stuff to eat just fine.
Comment icon #13 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 6 years ago
Like their cute houses. Don mind staying in one. But of cos of a normal size..


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