Hobbits and pygmies
The Indonesian island of Flores made headlines in 2003 when small human-like skeletons were discovered in a cave. Analysis revealed that they had once belonged to hominins all standing around a metre tall, members of an extinct species known as Homo floresiensis. The modern-day inhabitants of Flores are still much smaller than the average person, and there had long been speculation that Homo floresiensis had met Homo sapiens and passed on some of the genes for short stature. A new study has now ruled out that theory as no trace of Flores ‘Hobbit’ DNA was found when scientists studied the genes of the living pygmy people, and the original residents are thought to have died out tens of thousands of years ago. With no relation between the two populations, small body size must have evolved twice on Flores in response to the extreme conditions on the island.
Small stature helps the people of Flores to survive the challenges of the island