No not the movie. I’m talking about the species of humans found on a remote island in Indonesia. The scientific name for them is homo floresiensis. Their remains are believed to be 95,000-17,000 years old. Why does this species have the nickname of “The Hobbit”? How do they know it is a different species instead of the result of a genetic disease?
In 2003, a research team found an almost complete skeleton of a female inside the Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia. This was one of the most significant discoveries of the 21st century. The woman had small features and an unusually small brain size. They also found teeth and bones from 12 others inside the cave all having the same characteristics as the female. This led them to conclude it was a whole other species of human. They estimate the size of the individuals to be about three and a half feet and their weight to be around 65-75 pounds. These estimates were based on the female individual found. Some other characteristic of this species include large teeth, shrugged shoulders, lack of chins, receding foreheads, large feet, and brains a third the size of ours. One of the questions surrounding this species is which species of human was their immediate ancestor. One theory for their small stature is that it was a form of evolutionary dwarfism, that they evolved this way because of the isolation of living on the island as well as the small amount of resources available to them. Support for this can be found in the pygmy elephant species also on the island, which are now extinct.
Even though homo floresiesnsis had small brains, they developed stone tools and hunted to survive. The oldest tools found on the island are 800,000 and it is a mystery how humans arrived on the island because the nearest one is nine miles away. The stone tools found in the cave resembled those found elsewhere on the island. Archaeological evidence showed that they hunted the small elephants living on the island as many of their bones are found where they resided. They also hunted large rodents, fended off predators, and may have used fire. Who said small brains don’t get you anywhere! Trying to discover the past of humans is a daunting task. There are so many questions surrounding each species and how they came to develop their characteristics. The Hobbit species is a unique and mysterious fork in the road of human evolution.