Thursday, 18 February 2016

Indonesian ‘hobbits’ were not humans, new research finds

FEBRUARY 16, 2016

by Chuck Bednar

The unusual species known as the “hobbits” due to their small stature and unusually long and flat feet were not related to modern humans and were actually an entirely different species, according to new research published in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Evolution.

The new analysis, led by Antoine Balzeau of the French Natural History Museum, conducted an analysis of skull bones discovered on the island of Flores in 2003 and determined that the species known as Homo floresiensis could not have been tiny Homo sapiens, as some have suggested.

However, it is unlikely that the new research will put an end to the debate between the two different camps: one arguing that the short, small-brained hobbits originally descended from Homo erectus and had become smaller over time; and another claiming that they were modern humans suffering from some kind of genetic disorder, according to the AFP.

Nonetheless, Balzeau and Philippe Charlier, a palaeopathologist at Paris-Descartes University, used high-tech equipment to closely examine the layers of the Liang Bua 1 (LB1) hobbit skull, the most intact of the nine known Homo floresiensis, the news agency said. The duo’s analysis found “no characteristics” associated with Homo sapiens in the LB1 skull.

Species could still be related to Homo erectus, however
The skeletal remains of the 15,000-year-old hobbits were first discovered 13 years ago on Flores Island, Indonesia, and as the Daily Mail explained, they earned their “hobbit” nicknames because of their resemblance to the creatures featured in JRR Tolkien’s well-known fantasy novels. They stood an average of three feet tall and weighed a mere 55 pounds.

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