Via Popular Science, the newest research suggests that the three-foot-tall beings who lived in prehistoric Indonesia were not merely short or deformed humans, but a distinct species:
In 2003, researchers uncovered 18,000-year-old bones of a woman with a skull a third of the size of a human’s on the island of Flores, Indonesia. They subsequently found more remains belonging to up to nine similarly pint-sized prehistoric creatures. Nicknamed after the the J.R.R. Tolkien characters, they stood some 3 and a half feet tall.
A study published in Journal of Human Evolution last week shows hobbit wrists were markedly different from humans’, lending credence to the theory that they were a separate species from Homo sapiens. After studying the differences between the carpal bones of the Homo floresiensis remains discovered in 2004 and modern human and Neanderthal wrists, scientists says that hobbits weren’t just abnormally small humans.
Hobbits reached Indonesia by 1 million years ago, and went extinct 17,000 years ago. Some researchers contend that rather than being a separate species, hobbits were deformed humans with a developmental disorder that would account for their small stature and brain.