Published By: Sreyanshi

The Wonders of Flores Hobbit

Ancient 'Hobbits' in Indonesia may have evolved quite quickly


Archaeologists discovered skeleton remains in the Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. These discoveries would permanently change how we think about the development of humans. The remnants' small size gave them the affectionate moniker "Flores Hobbit," or Homo floresiensis as it is known scientifically.

Who are Flores Hobbits?

With an average height of slightly over one meter, Homo floresiensis differed physically from contemporary humans in a number of ways. Even though they were little in stature and had brains that were only around one-third the size of modern humans', there is evidence that they were able to make and utilize stone tools, indicating a level of cognitive ability not previously linked with such brain size.

History from 12000 years ago

They were well adapted to their island habitat thanks to their small legs, long feet, and muscular arms; they were probably skilled climbers and hunters. The Homo floresiensis is a unique branch of our human family tree that lived in isolation on the island of Flores and may have persisted as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Why are they so important?

What makes them so amazing is how different they are from contemporary people and the fresh perspectives on human variation and adaptation they provide. They demonstrate the many routes that historical hominin species have followed in their evolution.

Story of “ape-man”

Gregory Forth conducted extensive interviews with the natives who lived in the highlands of Indonesia's Flores Island in the early 2000s. They informed him that they occasionally saw a little, hairy, humanoid animal, or "ape-man," who was low in stature.

Forth thinks there's a chance that an ancient human species—whose bones paleoanthropologists found in a mountain cave on Flores—could have endured the previous 50,000 years in the remote area. He documented what he discovered from the Flores islanders in a book titled Between Ape and Human: An Anthropologist on the Trail of a Hidden Hominoid, which was released in 2022.

Paleoanthropologists, who seek evidence to support the theory of human evolution, are not at all persuaded. Paleontologists claim that there is no hard proof of the so-called "ape-men" that have been claimed, hence the likelihood that Flores being home to living descendants of an extinct human species is vanishingly remote.

The “Hobbit”

In a remote mountain cave on Flores, a team of paleoanthropologists reported in the journal Nature in 2004 that they had found a new branch in the human evolutionary tree. Forth recognized the species' description from the paper—an early human with an astonishingly tiny body shape and an upright gait. The person was given the moniker "hobbit" by the researchers in honor of the little characters from The Lord of the Rings.

"When the reports started coming out, I was quite amazed [at]... what paleoanthropologists were describing, and indeed reconstructing—[it] sounded very much like what the Lio people had been describing to me the previous summer," Forth said in an interview with The Debrief from February 2023. After the island where they discovered its bones, which also included a relatively intact cranium as well as bones of the legs, hands, feet, and pelvis, scientists gave it the moniker Homo floresiensis. They were all from the same female.

These tiny people lived during the Late Pleistocene epoch, a time period that overlapped with other extant human species, including Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens (modern humans), according to the later discovery of tools and the bones of 12 hobbit individuals. The Flores species employed stone tools, much as the other Homo species, according to available data. This particular variation of our species was unique; in contrast to other species, which are more similar to one another, it stood 3.5 feet tall, had huge teeth and feet, and a tiny skull that contained a chimpanzee-sized brain.