Hobbit is for Real

Hobbit is for Real

This summer get ready to rediscover your pre-Holocene years with the newest addition to the Lord of the Rings Saga...

Our story begins on the tiny Indonesian island of Flores where the hobbits lived until around 12,000 years ago. These little guys, who stood around 3.5 feet or a little over one meter tall, evolved from Homo erectus (the great ape right before Homo sapiens aka us). Homo erectus journeyed through Mirkwood, walked through Mordor, and made their way to the isolated island of Flores. 

With the absence of dragons, trolls, and orcs on Flores, Homo erectus decided to go green and shrink in size, as smaller bodies require less energy. After passing on second breakfast, salted pork, and po-tat-oes enough times, eventually Homo erectus evolved to Homo floresiensis or hobbits. But don’t you underestimate these ordinary folk! Despite shrinking, these hobbits were smart enough to use tools and walk upright.

 Source: Susan Hayes, University of Wollongong

Source: Susan Hayes, University of Wollongong

These little hobbitses hid from paleontologists in a cave until 2003 when their 50,000 to 100,000 year long game of hide-and-seek finally ended. The hobbits were small, had short legs relative to their arms, and had long, flat feet, Paleontologists weren’t quite sure if they had stumbled upon a new race of human or whether they had found a handful who had genetic disorders that made them smaller. Needing more fossils to understand hobbits better, they continued their quest to find more and the team searched near the cave for more remains. Just before throwing in the towel and calling “olly olly oxen free,” over a decade later, they found an unusually small jaw and teeth from three different potential hobbits, in addition to tools and thousands of animal fossils.

 Source: Kinez Risa, Nature

Source: Kinez Risa, Nature

These remains are smaller than those of the hobbits and were dated to be around 700,000 years old. This means that the transition from erectus to floresiensis happened within 300,000 years, relatively quickly on an evolutionary time scale. While there is a good chance this discovery is an ancestor of Homo floresiensis, more fossils are needed to draw firmer conclusions. These new findings are exciting and you never know what paleontologists may find in the coming years. Just cross your fingers that it isn’t a ring.

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