Scientists have discovered that the so-called ‘Flores Man’ – a race of hobbits from Indonesia – are an entirely difference species unrelated to modern humans.
The ancient hobbits, who stood 3.5 foot tall, were originally discovered at Liang Bua on the island of Flores in 2003. Scientists originally believed that these real life hobbits were Homo Floresiensis- a small variety of humans.
However, a new study by The Australian National University (ANU) has found that the mysterious creatures are not human at all.
Researchers think they were related to a sister species of Homo habilis – one of the earliest known ancestors of modern mankind which lived in Africa 1.75 million years ago.
Dr Debbie Argue from the ANU School of Archaeology & Anthropology said the results should help solve a debate that has been hotly contested ever since Homo floresiensis was discovered.
She said: “The analyses show that on the family tree, Homo floresiensis was likely a sister species of Homo habilis.
“It means these two shared a common ancestor.
“It’s possible that Homo floresiensis evolved in Africa and migrated, or the common ancestor moved from Africa then evolved into Homo floresiensis somewhere.”
Dr Argue said the analyses also supported the theory that Homo floresiensis could have branched off earlier in the timeline, more than 1.75 million years ago.
“If this was the case Homo floresiensis would have evolved before the earliest Homo habilis, which would make it very archaic indeed,” she said.
Professor Mike Lee of Flinders University and the South Australian Museum, used statistical modeling to analyse the data.
He said: “When we did the analysis there was really clear support for the relationship with Homo habilis.
“Homo floresiensis occupied a very primitive position on the human evolutionary tree.
“We can be 99 per cent sure it’s not related to Homo erectus and nearly 100 per cent chance it isn’t a malformed Homo sapiens.”
The study was published in the Journal of Human Evolution.
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