The real-life ‘hobbits’ of Indonesia

Dr Adam Brumm is a senior research fellow in archaeology at Griffith University. He has spent more than a decade searching for the fossil ancestors of the Indonesian ‘hobbits’ (Homo floresiensis).


‘Hobbit’ is the nickname given to a diminutive and now-extinct human species, Homo floresiensis, which existed until relatively recent times on the Indonesian island of Flores.
The most complete ‘hobbit’ skeleton belonged to a young adult female that was only about a metre tall, and whose brain was roughly one-third the size of a modern adult female’s brain.
Recent discoveries suggest that the ancestors of ‘hobbits’ first arrived on Flores at least one million years ago. However, the identity of this founding population is a complete mystery.

Some scientists believe that hobbits are dwarf versions of Homo erectus. Whilst others think that they stem from a much earlier and more primitive ancestor such as an ape like Australopithecine of Africa.

So far hobbits have only been found in a single cave on Flores. But archaeologists are exploring other part to the island for further traces of this enigmatic species and to find out what happened to them after the arrival of our own species Homo sapiens about fifty thousand years ago.

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