Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Hobbit

A new study of our miniature hominid relative Homo floresiensis offers more evidence that the Hobbit was a separate species, descended from our common ancestor Homo erectus. Unique foot anatomy suggests floresiensis was a species distinct from modern humans and not a pathological human variant. A second study of the dwarf hippo and its shrinking brain offers a model for the evolutionary pressures of islands like Flores where the Hobbit was found.

Both studies affirm the extraordinary contention that tiny human-like beings lived alongside modern humans, perhaps as recently as 10,000 years ago. See our Extinct series on the Hobbit, full Extinct series here.

(image credit: Homo floresiensis foot and tibia, Djuna Ivereigh/NOVA-WGBH, via nytimes.com)