© National Museum of Nature and Science, TokyoThe hobbit, Homo floresiensis, lived on the island of Flores some 18,000 years ago, and now researchers have more evidence (its relatively large brain) the diminutive creature was a unique human species.
The brain of the extinct "hobbit" was bigger than often thought, researchers say.
These findings add to evidence that the hobbit was a unique species of humans after all, not a deformed modern human, scientists added.
The 18,000-year-old fossils of the extinct type of human officially known as Homo floresiensis
were first discovered on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. Its squat, 3-foot-tall (1 meter) build led to the hobbit nickname. [Image Gallery: A Real-Life Hobbit
Scientists had suggested the hobbit was a unique branch of the human lineage Homo.
It may have descended from Homo erectus,
the earliest undisputed ancestor of modern humans, or an even more primitive extinct species of human, Homo habilis
, which had a more apelike skeleton. However, other researchers have argued it was unlikely another species of human lasted so close to the present day, and that the hobbit was really a modern human with microcephaly
, a condition that leads to an abnormally small head, a small body and some mental retardation.