New theory provides insight on Indonesian 'hobbits'

If you've never heard of Homo floresiensis, it's a diminutive species of human first found in Indonesia. Nicknamed "hobbit" for its stature, the species was thought up until recently to be a descendant of Homo erectus. But a recent study by Australian National University researchers has all but debunked this pervasive view.

The relationship between Homo floresiensis and Homo erectus has been heavily debated among experts since the bones of the former were discovered in 2003 on Flores, an Indonesian island. Homo floresiensis was known to be living on the island a little over 54,000 years ago.

RELATED: Stunning pictures of Bali, Indonesia

17 PHOTOS
Stunning pictures of Bali, Indonesia
See Gallery
Stunning pictures of Bali, Indonesia
Jemeluk Beach and beautiful blue lagoon with Gunung Agung volcano on background. Amed village, East of Bali, Indonesia.
Lila Sunbed on Beautiful White Sand. Clear Blue Ocean, Atuh Beach, Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia.
Taman Ayun Temple is a Royal Family Temple of Mengwi Empire and it is located in Mengwi Village, Mengwi sub district, Badung regency, Bali, Indonesia.
Spectacular rice fields in narrow walley, to north of Ubud.
Rice paddy at sunrise, Bali, Indonesia
Monkey at Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, IndonesiaMonkey at Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Indonesia, Bali, East Bali, Amlapura, Rice Fields and Gunung Agung Volcano
Pura Ulun Danu Batur or Ulun Danu Batur temple is a Hinduism temple built in 1926 and dedicated to Ulan Danu, the Goddess of lakes and rivers. It is the second most important temple in Bali after the mother temple Besakih. It is Located in Kintamani Bangli. The Temple and it's stunning view of lake Batur, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bali.
Indonesia, Bali, Indian Ocean waves at Uluwatu on the Bukit Peninsula, one of Bali's best surfing locations
yoga in Bali, meditation in the temple, spirituality and enlightenment
Sekumpul Waterfalls in Bali, Indonesia
Sunrise at Jatiluwih ricefield, Bali - Indonesia
This image shows some colourful beach umbreallas and pillows in Kuta, Bali
Borobudur Temple at sunrise, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia. (silhouette scene)
Pura Desa Temple, Ubud, Bali Indonesia
Farmers walking on rice fields terraced of Mu Cang Chai, YenBai, Vietnam
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

A press release about the research notes, "Where previous research had focused mostly on the skull and lower jaw, this study used 133 data points ranging across the skull, jaws, teeth, arms, legs and shoulders."

The release further notes, "Data from the study concluded there was no evidence for the popular theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region with fossils discovered on the Indonesian mainland of Java."

SEE ALSO: Scientists discover a habitable 'super Earth' -- which may already be hosting 'alien' life

The study suggests that "Homo floresiensis...were most likely a sister species of Homo habilis — one of the earliest known species of human found in Africa 1.75 million years ago."

The researchers point to a few different possibilities; either Homo floresiensis developed in Africa and moved somewhere else, or its ancestors left Africa and then evolved into Homo floresiensis when they got there.

Read Full Story