In 2003, archaeologists at Liang Bua Cave in Flores Island – Indonesia, found the tiny bones of an adult female, human-like being, standing only 90-100 cm tall. Nickenamed ‘hobbit. she became the representative of a new hominid species with the scientific name, Homo floresiensis.
More findings in the cave revealed that the hobbits inhabited Flores relatively recently, that is between 94,000 and 13,000 years ago, existing at the same time modern humans already populated Southeast Asia and Australia. Yet, the skeletal anatomy shows a number of features-short legs, large feet, long arms – that dearly distinguish them from modern humans and are seen in the human ancestor Homo erectus and other earty hominids, as well as in today’s great apes. Findings of stone tools some 800,000 years old indicate early hominid activity on Flores. So Homo floresiensis might have evolved from homo erectus and then survived far into a time where all other early hominids were long extinct.
Researchers were mystified though by the relatively small brain of the hobbit people, too small in relation to body size, compared to other hominids. This made the hobbits subjects of heated debate, with daims that they were merely moderm hurman midgets. Several syndromes and disorders, such as microcephaly, have been put forward. But a whole group of individuals with the same rare symptorms? It seems unlikely. The easy going island life might have caused the loss of brain size, as the cunningness and inventiveness essential for survival on the mainland were no longer needed. Nevertheless, stone spearheads and other artifacts at the excavation site suggest that its dwellers were capable of complex thinking as well.