Scientists Reveal Origin Of Indonesian Hobbits Linked To Homo Erectus Or Homo Habilis [VIDEO]By Anne Collins, UniversityHerald Reporter
Archaeologists from Indonesia and Australia discovered bones of a new species of human in 2003. The Homo floresiensis was found in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores.
It quickly earned the nickname of "hobbit" for its short nature for standing about 3.5 ft. Ever since its discovery, scientists argued if it fits on the human evolutionary tree. Australian National University (ANU) new study suggested that the species may have branched out from a common ancestor of the Homo sapiens that is much earlier than previously thought.
The New Atlas reported, one theory suggests that the hobbits are modern humans suffering from a congenital condition call microcephaly, which leads to a much smaller brain, head and body. Another accepted origin story suggests floresiensis evolved from Homo erectus, human ancestors that lived between 1.9 million and 70,000 years ago.
Mike Lee, co-author of the study from ANU said they can be 99 percent sure it's not related to Homo erectus and there is a nearly 100 percent chance it isn't a malformed Homo sapiens. The study analyzed 133 data points from the hobbits' whole skeleton, which included its skull, jaws, teeth, arms, legs and shoulders. They found that the Homo floresiensis' jaws appear to be more primitive than Homo erectus.
Researchers believe the Homo floresiensis was related to the earlier species, Homo habilis. Dr Debbie Argue, lead author of the study said on the analysis it showed that Homo floresiensis was likely a sister species of Homo habilis basing on the family tree. This suggests the two shared a common ancestor. Homo habilis is one of the earliest known hominids that has walked the Earth between 2.1 and 1.5 million years ago.
Hobbit remains have been found and dated between 100,000 and 54,000 years old, the study suggests the species could have branched off as early as 1.75 million years ago. Dr. Argue said it's possible that they evolved in Africa then migrated, Blasting News reported.
The study was published in the Journal of Human Evolution.