Did Tolkien Know Something We Didn’t?
The discovery of three tiny skeletons, unearthed in Flores, has scientists inquiring if “hobbits” may have once existed.
Using a term first created for JRR Tolkien’s 1937 novel, when the first hobbits were found, some experts claimed they could be modern humans affected by microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.
However, if light of new data, researchers now believe these short, humanoid creatures may have evolved from an early ancestor of modern human, and shrank after becoming stranded on Indonesian island, where the remains were found and dated back some 700,000 years.
Dr Gert van den Bergh, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, whose team uncovered the new fossils said “This find has important implications for our understanding of early human dispersal and evolution in the region and squashes once and for all any doubters that believe Homo Floresiensis was merely a sick modern human (Homo sapiens).”
The scientists believe the ancient hobbits lived in hot, dry Savannah-like grassland with a wetland component, based on analysis on the adult jawbone, which was 20% smaller than its smallest, more recent, hobbit counterpart as well as six teeth, among them two milk teeth belonging to infants.
Dr Yousuke Kaifu, one of the researchers from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Japan, said: due to “The morphology or shape of the fossil teeth also suggests that this human lineage represents a dwarfed descendant of early Homo Erectus that somehow got marooned on the island of Flores.
He adds, “All the fossils are indisputably hominin and they appear to be remarkably similar to those of Homo Floresiensis.”
Simple stone tools similar to those associated with Homo Floresiensis were discovered in the same sandstone rock layer as the fossils.