New fossils provide clues to mysterious 'hobbit' ancestors
In 2004, researchers declared that fossils of small, human-like beings, later designated as Homo floresiensis, were discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia, notes the Los Angeles Times.
According to the BBC, due to their diminutive stature, they became widely referred to as "hobbits," but, beyond that, there were few agreements about their origins among the scientific community.
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New fossils discovered on the island of Flores by another team of researchers in 2014 may provide some clarity. The findings of their analysis were recently published in the journal Nature.
The team found a piece of jawbone and 6 teeth dated at roughly 700,000 years old and appear to have once belonged to not only a small hominin, but also an ancestor of the hobbits.
Deeper scientific analysis revealed that, while child-sized by our standards, the remains were those of an adult.
Further, they also closely aligned with those of Homo erectus, notes the Washington Post.
Combined, those traits suggest that Homo floresiensis didn't start out small, as some suggest, but rather evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, likely rapidly diminishing in size as a means of surviving the scarcity of island life.