Research News

Discovery Casts Doubt on 'Hobbit' Theory

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
"Hobbit" skull beside a modern human skull.  Human skull is much larger.

The skull of a Homo floresiensis, (left), nicknamed "Hobbit," beside the skull of a modern human. Peter Brown hide caption

toggle caption Peter Brown

The discovery of unusual skeletal remains on the islands of Palau suggests that the so-called "hobbits" found several years ago in Indonesia may have been dwarf humans, not a separate species.

Researchers report that they discovered parts of human skeletons between 900 and 2,800 years old in caves on the Pacific islands of Palau. The researchers say that the remains, though quite small, are clearly those of modern humans.

A population living in isolation, as on an island, can develop "insular dwarfism," the researchers say. The newly found remains are similar to those found on the island of Flores several years ago, but the researchers cannot say definitely that similar factors are at work in both sets of remains.

Lee Berger, one of the authors of the new study published in PLoS One, talks about the work.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from