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The origin of “hobbits” is revealed: study

The brain size of extinct “hobbits” is bigger than previously thought, suggesting a new theory for identifying its ancestors, scientists suggested.

An 18,000-year-old fossil of a “Homo floresiensis” was first unearthed on an Indonesian island. The species was dubbed “hobbit” because of its height of less than 1 meter.

Scientists had mixed views upon its origins. Some claimed that it was a unique branch of the Homo erectus or Homo habilis, some of the earliest ancestors of modern humans.

The others suggested it is merely of a modern human with microcephaly, a condition that results in an atypically small brain and body size with mental retardation.

One method to determine its origin is to compare the brain size of hobbits and the other Homo species. While the brain size of Homo erectus is approximately 1,000 cubic centimeters, a recent research claimed that the brain size of Javanese specimens of Homo floresiensis, hobbits, is about 860 centimeters.

“This study does not prove who was the actual ancestral species for Homo floresiensis, but it has removed the most important concern for the model, which supposes Homo erectus was the ancestral species,” said researcher Yousuke Kaifu, a paleoanthropologist of Japan‘s National Museum of Nature and Science.

The findings were published online Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

From news reports