One of the most unusual and controversial archaic human species to be discovered is that of Homo floresiensis - known as The Hobbit. Only nine specimens have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. Flores is not one of the main touristic islands of Indonesia, but if one does go there, then be sure to learn about the world's real-life Hobbits!

Another archaic species of humans for which we have even fewer specimens (but know more about its DNA) is the Denisovans. They were discovered in the Denisova cave in the Altai region of Siberia.


What We Know About The Hobbit - Homo Floresiensis

"They had tiny brains, large teeth for their small size, shrugged-forward shoulders, no chins, receding foreheads, and relatively large feet due to their short legs. Despite their small body and brain size, H. floresiensis made and used stone tools, hunted small elephants and large rodents, coped with predators such as giant Komodo dragons, and may have used fire."

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

It is believed that The Hobbit lived on the island until the arrival of modern humans around 50,000 years ago. Homo Floresiensis is called the Hobbit because the individual found would only have stood about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) in height.

  • Nickname: The Hobbit
  • Height: 1.1 meters (3 ft 7 in)
  • Weight: 30 kg (66 lbs) - estimate from a female skeleton
  • Age: The Most Complete Female Specimen Was Likely Around 30 Years Old
  • Island: The Island Of Flores In Indonesia
  • Sites Found: Liang Bua Cave And Mata Menge

There has been a heated debate in the scientific community if The Hobbit was a group of diseased modern humans or a separate species. According to a 2017 study, they were indeed a separate species. It is thought that their diminutive size was a result of island dwarfism.

Until recently they were only found in Liang Bua cave but in 2016 scientists announced they had discovered the lower jaw and teeth (likely from an adult and two children) at Mata Menge around 70 kilometers from Liang Bua cave. These date to 700,000 years old.

  • New Discoveries: New Finds Where Found In 2016
  • Extinction: Around 50,000 Years Ago Or Earlier

One thing that makes the hominin so remarkable is that it survived into modern times with the migration of modern humans around the world (at first it was thought to have gone extinct 12,000 years ago but now it's thought to have perished 50,000 or more years ago).

Related: Prehistoric Cave Paintings Prove The Sahara Was Once Green

Visit Liang Bua Cave In Indonesia

Liang Bua is a limestone cave north of the town of Ruteng on the island of Flores. It has been known to have archaeological and paleontological potential since the 1950s and 1960s.

There is no evidence of modern humans in Liang Bua cave until 11,000 years ago - although it is known that Homo Sapiens were in the region about 50,000 years ago (and there are some discoveries that suggest that they may have been there earlier).

The cave has stalactites and stalagmites and in past times local people lived in the cave - it was even used as a school for the neighboring villages.

  • Getting There: It Is Easy To Get There by Motorbike or Truck

The cave is half-open facing a river valley, and it is easy to see that it was an attractive dwelling place to prehistoric man. Visitors can imagine what it was like in the days of the Hobbit - when there were also Komodo lizards on the island and ancient dwarf elephants.

  • Tip: While There Check Out the Other Caves Like Gua Galang (with bathing stones) and Gua Tanah
  • Entry Fee: Not Applicable

One can either get a guide or make one's way there by one's self.

Related: This Cave In Spain Boasts Some Of The Oldest And Most Well-Preserved Prehistoric Paintings In The World

Learn About Homo Floresiensis At The Australian Museum

The Australian Museum in Sydney is actively involved in studying and solving the mystery of the "Hobbit" and how they were related to our own species of humans. If one is also visiting Australia, pop into this incredible museum and see the mounted two life-size 3D-printed copies of the Homo floresiensis.

See artist impressions of what these Hobbits probably looked like and learn more about where our understanding of them is today. Many of the articles and resources found online are out of date as new discoveries are constantly being made and our understanding of them is being updated.

  • Open Hours: 10 am - 5 pm Monday to Sunday
  • Admission Fee: Admission Is Free
  • Closed: Xmas Day
  • Address: 1 William Street, Sydney NSW 2010, Australia

Over in Europe, if one would like to learn about another species of archaic humans, then one can learn about Neanderthals in Gibraltar and the Neander River Valley in Germany - the locations they were first discovered.

Next: Why You Should Visit The Cradle of Humankind In South Africa