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'Hobbit' Fossils Found Prove Creatures Roamed Earth Far Longer Than We Thought

Image: 'Hobbit' Fossils Found Prove Creatures Roamed Earth Far Longer Than We Thought
This 2016 picture provided by Kinez Riza shows teeth which scientists say are about 700,000 years old, from either from Homo floresiensis or a related species. (Kinez Riza via AP)

By    |   Thursday, 09 Jun 2016 01:09 PM

"Hobbit" fossils found on an Indonesian island suggest that the small, humanlike creatures resembling the characters of J.R.R. Tolkien novels may have existed much earlier than previously thought.

Teeth and a jaw fragment believed to be from hobbits (scientific name is Homo floresiensis) were found in a cave on the island of Flores and date back 700,000 years, according to a report released Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The fossils were found in the same cave where the Homo floresiensis was first discovered more than a decade ago. But the earlier discovery of the extinct 3-and-a-half-foot-tall species dated to 50,000 years ago, The Associated Press reported.

Scientists have wondered whether the species is a dwarfed form of Homo erectus or descended from such earlier hominids as Homo habilis or Australopithecus.

“These new findings suggest that Homo floresiensis is indeed a dwarfed form of Homo erectus from Java, a small group of which must have gotten marooned on Flores and evolved in isolation,” said Gerritt van den Bergh, an archaeologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, according to National Geographic.

Much older stone tools found at the site suggest the human-like creatures lived there as early as a million years ago, the BBC reported.

One theory is suggests the hobbits may be a form of normal-sized Homo erectus that shrunk within the space of just 300,000 years, the BBC said.

"What is truly unexpected is that the size of the finds indicates that Homo floresiensis had already obtained its small size by at least 700,000 years ago," van den Bergh said, according to the BBC.

But not everyone is convinced by the theory of shrinking.

"We do not know how large the tool-makers at one million years actually were, since we do not have their fossils yet; and, secondly, we cannot be sure that the evidence at one million years actually represents the first arrival of humans on Flores," Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London told the BBC.

"It is just as likely that the ancestors of (The Hobbit) came from somewhere like Sulawesi, to the North, and we have no evidence so far of who might have been there more than a million years ago."

Twitter users were intrigued by the discovery.







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"Hobbit" fossils found on an Indonesian island suggest that the small, humanlike creatures resembling the characters of J.R.R. Tolkien novels may have existed much earlier than previously thought.
hobbit, fossils, found, indonesia
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2016-09-09
Thursday, 09 Jun 2016 01:09 PM
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