'Hobbits' one of the earliest forms of human

Hobbits, known as Homo floresiensis, could be one of the most archaic forms of human according to new research.

Remains of hobbits were discovered on an Indonesian island in 2003, and since then scientists have debated where they originated from.

While some claimed they were just short Homo sapiens, new Australian National University (ANU) research claims the hobbits were most likely a sister species to Homo habilis - who lived in Africa about 1.75 million years ago.

There's also a chance that they even proceeded the Homo habilis, making them one of the oldest forms of humans.

They were about 3.5ft tall and used stone tools.

"It's possible that Homo floresiensis evolved in Africa and migrated, or the common ancestor moved from Africa then evolved into Homo floresiensis somewhere," study leader Dr Debbie Argue says.

Dr Argue said the analyses could also support 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.

The hobbits lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until as recently as 54,000 years ago.

Prior to the ANU study it was believed that the Homo floresiensis evolved from Homo erectus, a larger human that lived on the Indonesian mainland of Java.

However the ANU researchers say that's almost certainly not the case.

"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," Professor Mike Lee said.

The research was published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

It's unclear whether Bilbo Baggins is connected to the Homo floresiensis, or how he and his relatives made their way to Hobbiton from Indonesia.


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