Mystery ‘hobbits’ not humans like us: study

Diminutive humans that died out on an Indonesian island some 15,000 years ago were not Homo sapiens but a different species, according to a study published Monday that dives into a fierce anthropological debate.Fossils of Homo floresiensis — dubbed “the hobbits” due to their tiny stature — were discovered on the island of Flores in 2003.Controversy has raged ever since as to whether they are an unknown branch of early humans or specimens of modern man deformed by disease.The new study, based on an analysis of the skull bones, shows once and for all that the pint-sized people were not Homo sapiens, according to the researchers.Until now, academic studies have pointing in one direction or another — and scientific discourse has sometimes tipped over into acrimony.One school of thought holds that so-called Flores Man descended from the larger Homo erectus and became smaller over hundreds of generations.The proposed process for this is called “insular dwarfing” — animals, after migrating across land bridges during periods of low sea level, wind up marooned on islands as oceans rise and their size progressively diminishes if the supply of food declines.An adult hobbit stood a metre (three feet) tall, and weighed about 25 kilos (55 pounds).

Source: Mystery ‘hobbits’ not humans like us: study

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