The Debate of the Hobbits

The species called Homo floresiensis (dubbed by some  as the Hobbits, but better known as the Flores People) were thought to be the most recent species of hominin (early human) to co-exist on Earth alongside Homo sapiens.

However in the past few years it has been argued that the Flores People were in fact not people but different creatures. Homo floresienis was around 1 metre tall, and came from the Indonesian island of Flores. Homo floresiensis dates back to between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago.

These Flores People had smaller skulls and eyes and no chin. However their other features match with Homo sapiens and from this, medical experts speculated that the Flores People had either a disease or a growth disorder. This was the explanation for their different features.

However, only one full Homo florensiensis skull has been found, making it difficult to understand the appearance of all the Flores People as a whole. Lately it has been questioned whether they were actually humans or another creature altogether. New evidence from closer examination of the skull shape has made it more clear that these hobbits were anatomically too different to have belonged to our species, Homo sapiens.

So which evolutionary line did the Flores People come from? This debate is ongoing, with some scientists believing they are a descendant of Homo erectus and others thinking they might have come from human-like apes called the australopiths.

References:

BBC News website
Smithsonian Institute website

Katie O’Connor

Transition Year Work Experience student