9 Jun 2016

New 'Hobbit' human species fossil find 700,000 years old

9:30 am on 9 June 2016

Scientists say they have found even older examples of the extinct diminutive human species Homo floresiensis, dubbed the Hobbit, in Indonesia.

Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists said fossil bones from three of the new discoveries on the island of Flores were 700,000 years old.

The research indicated the species was 20 percent shorter than its metre-tall descendants, who died out about 50,000 years ago.

The original discovery by New Zealand-born archaeologist Mike Morwood in a cave 12 years ago created a sensation in the scientific community.

Researchers believe the island was populated by normal-sized early humans one million years ago, and that the inhabitants evolved to hobbit size relatively quickly in just 300,000 years.

Homo floresiensis stood about 1m tall, with a brain no bigger than a chimpanzee's. Even so, they could make sophisticated stone tools.

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