A recent study of the bone structure in the fossilized skulls of Flores Man has confirmed that the hominid, nicknamed "Hobbits" due to their diminutive 3’6" stature, are not an ancestor of modern humans, but quite probably a cousin of ours, sharing a common ancestor.

First discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, the remains of the nine individuals of Homo floresiensis that were uncovered represent a unique species that lived on the island from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago. Since their discovery, a debate has ensued regarding their place in our family tree, with one side believing that they may have been a human ancestor, and the other saying that they were an offshoot that shared a common ancestor with us.

But this new study, conducted by researchers in France, have determined that the bone structure of the skulls of H. floresiensis lacked key characteristics seen in Homo sapiens, making them a separate species altogether. The analysis was made using recently-made high-resolution images of the individual called Liang Bua 1, a specimen with a nearly complete skull.

This means that Flores Man likely shared an ancient ancestor with us, with the most likely candidate being Homo erectus, that lived between 1.9 million and 70,000 years ago. Paleontologists are now left with the question of whether Flores Man is a form of H. erectus that experienced a scaling-down due to it’s environment, of if it is a separate species in it’s own right.