It is a discovery that has split the scientific community – the fossilised remains of a diminutive species of human that lived on a remote tropical island in South East Asia.
But extraordinary new fossils found on the island of Flores in Indonesia may finally settle the debate about the origins of strange Hobbits that lived there 90,000 to 50,000 years ago.
Adults stood just three-and-a-half feet tall and their brains were roughly one-third the size of our own, about the size of a chimpanzee’s.
Because of their miniature size, researched nicknamed the unusual findings Hobbits.
The discovery consists of just six tiny teeth and a fragment of a small lower jawbone, but researchers say it is enough to suggest the fossils belonged to a direct ancestor of the Hobbits.
The scientists who discovered the Hobbits in 2003 have maintained they are a separate species of human that evolved from an earlier species like Homo erectus after becoming isolated on Flores.
Others, however, have doubted this and insist the bones belong to a larger type of human was suffering from an inherited condition like dwarfism.
But the discovery of a much older but similarly tiny species of early human, or hominin, just 43 miles away from the Liang Bua cave where the Homo floresiensis fossils were found, suggests they had been on Flores for a long time.
Scientists leading the excavations say it suggests these early humans may have been living on Flores for up to one million years after being stranded there.
Other researchers believe the fossils belonged to anatomically modern humans who suffered from some type of disorder that led to extreme disorder. Microcephaly and Down syndrome have both been proposed.
The current finding, however, seems to indicate differently; hobbits who ended up on the island appeared to defy typical development and growth.