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Nickname: Hobbit

Where Lived: Asia (Indonesia)

When Lived: About 95,000 – 17,000 years ago

Remains of the most recently discovered early human species, Homo floresiensis (nicknamed ‘Hobbit’), have been found between 95,000 and 17,000 years ago on the Island of Flores, Indonesia. H. floresiensis individuals stood approximately 3 feet 6 inches tall, had tiny brains, large teeth for their small size, shrugged-forward shoulders, no chins, receding foreheads, and relatively large feet due to their short legs. Despite their small body and brain size, H. floresiensis made and used stone tools, hunted small elephants and large rodents, coped with predators such as giant Komodo dragons, and may have used fire.

The diminutive stature and small brain of H. floresiensis may have resulted from island dwarfism—an evolutionary process that results from long-term isolation on a small island with limited food resources and a lack of predators. Pygmy elephants on Flores, now extinct, showed the same adaptation. The smallest known species of Homo and Stegodon elephant are both found on the island of Flores, Indonesia. However, some scientists are now considering the possibility that the ancestors of H. floresiensis may have been small when they first reached Flores.

One of our own scientists, Dr. Matt Tocheri, does research on this enigmatic early human species; read more about this work, and watch a video about it on this page:


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© Human Origins Program

Supplier: Human Origins Program NMNH

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