Ancestors of Hobbits most likely existed 600,000 years ago

Saurabh

Disclaimer: The author does not claim to be an expert in the field, but the article is based on credible sources.

Hobbits are characterized as members of a race of mythical beings related to and resembling humans that live in underground caverns and are distinguished by their pleasant disposition, tiny stature, and hairy feet. Hobbit is a nickname for species named Homo floresiensis that gained popularity following the 2001 premiere of the Lord of the Rings trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien's works.

Homo floresiensis were ancient species generally defined as a type of small, primitive human with a little brain and huge teeth that lived around 50,000-100,000 years ago. Many fossil remains, as well as stone tools, have been recovered on the Indonesian island of Flores since the first discovery in 2003.

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Image for Representational purpose onlyPhoto by Andres Iga on Unsplash

A fresh research published in 2016 claimed to have discovered specimens of a small hominin at Mata Menge, 74 kilometres from the hobbit's habitat in Liang Bua cave. The harvest was meager with a jaw piece and solitary teeth, but their small size implies they are from the hobbit's species, Homo floresiensis, or a predecessor to it. They are 700,000 years old, hundreds of thousands of years earlier than the hobbit, and they were around 20% smaller.

Many believe that the discoveries indicate that a lineage of small humans evolved on Flores, appearing surprisingly quickly after its ancestor, most likely Homo erectus, arrived around 1 million years ago. The few new fossils are the result of hard work in Mata Menge in Flores' Soa Basin. Around 50 years ago, a foresighted Dutch Catholic priest and amateur archaeologist uncovered stone tools there and determined that H. erectus had washed up on Flores, maybe from nearby Java.

No one believed him, and since then, experts, including members of the present team, have combed the area. Because grassy vegetation and a humid environment conceal and destroy any fossils that poke through the surface, the crew had to dig across large areas of the terrain. Over ten field seasons, they ploughed off top layers of earth, employing up to 120 students and local people to filter tonnes of dirt and chisel out fossils.

Finally, in the last weeks of the project's final season in 2014, their efforts were rewarded. A worker with keen eyes saw a hominin tooth, which was followed by a piece of lower jaw and cranium, as well as five other teeth, including two baby teeth. Several other scientists concur and applaud the team's excavation. The discoveries put an end to the contention that Homo floresiensis is a diseased modern human rather than a distinct species, as some opponents have claimed.

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Saurabh is a Computer Science & Engineering undergraduate student pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.

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