Why the Fossil 'Hobbit' of Flores Isn't so Strange





A dwarf-ed, human-like skeleton was discovered in 2004 deep inside Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. Was it a diseased human? A child?

Further examination of the bones revealed that they were not recent, nor human exactly. Archaeologists famously declared the skeleton a new human ancestor, Homo floresiensis, whose striking similarities to Frodo Baggins earned it the nickname the "hobbit."

But researchers continue to disagree over where exactly this new species fits on the human family tree. A new study in the Journal of Biogeography led by Hanneke Meijer of the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis, provides an answer.

Meijer suggests the key to understanding the hobbit is to narrow one’s gaze only to the island. On Flores, the fossil record shows the other island residents, including reptiles and mammals, all experienced either dwarfism or gigantism....



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