Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The hobbits are not only fantastic creatures invented by Tolkien, but before filling the pages of Lord of the Rings it seems that they inhabited the forests of Indonesia. About one meter tall and with a tiny skull, the skeleton found in 2003 on the island of Flores is known by the scientific community as Homo florensiensis. Its discoverers have dubbed it the "hobbit".
For years scientists believed that they were faced with a physical dysfunction, a primitive form of dwarfism, or an extinct human species. But the hypothesis recently put forward by the Japanese Yousuke Kaifu, albeit with the same starting assumptions of those that preceded it, has provided a new way of seeing the case from the point of view of evolution.
According to the expert from the Japanese Museum of Natural Sciences in Tokyo, the hobbit is the ancestor of the Asian Homo erectus. The short stature and undersized skull are the result of a climate adaptation. Studies by Kaifu have in fact proved that having moved from Asia to this Indonesian island of Flores, Homo florensienses changed their physical characteristics.
In the years following the
discovery of Homo florensiensis, Prof.
Stringer, of the Natural History Museum in London, argued that the hobbit had
originated from the direct evolution of an African primate that migrated to
Asia. "Florensiensis was a failed experiment
and lasted for the last 50 thousand years, we humans are the last survivors of
all these evolutionary experiments." Said
the British expert placing the hobbit story at a dead end.
American Professor Dean Folk of the University of Florida and the author between 2005 and 2007 of a theory in which she claims the hobbit belongs to another human species, termed the Kaifu hypothesis as "the most convincing." The same Japanese professor, however, has admitted in a more cautious that his work "does not prove that H. erectus is the ancestor of H. Floresiensis." He adds that "it is possible that the skull of H.Floresiensis is too small to be the result of a simple shrinkage."