In 2003, on the island of Flores in Indonesia, scientists made a remarkable discovery in the Liang Bua cave. As told by National Geographic, they found the remains of humans that stood about 3.5 feet tall and weighed at maximum 75 pounds, though the females could be as light as 35 pounds. This species of human was dubbed Homo floresiensis after the island, but they were quickly nicknamed hobbits. Smithsonian reports that this particular human species lived 100,000 to 50,000 years ago.
Floresiensis were diminutive. Their brains were about 426 cubic centimeters, which is a little over a third of the size of a modern human brain. Despite the small brain, floresiensis used weapons to hunt stegodon, a type of extinct pygmy elephant.
What scientists are trying to figure out is how floresiensis fits into the homo family tree. Some reason that floresiensis descended from Homo erectus and evolved into dwarfs, as many species do in island environments. Others, as reported by Live Science, have posited that they were modern humans who suffered from mutations. Yet this is countered by skeletal differences, such as a lack of a chin, in floresiensis. Other analysis suggests that floresiensis evolved from a different human species than erectus, which means that erectus would not have been the first human to migrate out of Africa. The debate will likely only continue as more research and excavation is done.