DISCOVERIES

The Hobbits Are Real

The “Hobbit” skeletons, found in Indonesia, probably belonged to their own species, according to two new papers in Nature. Researchers have argued heatedly over the origins of the 3-foot-tall, 65-pound people, who roamed the island of Flores 8,000 years ago. The Hobbits most likely descended from an earlier species of human and then were naturally selected to be smaller and smaller in a process called island dwarfing, one team concludes. The Hobbits’ brains were about a third the size of the modern human brain, though the people used stone tools and had “incredibly human” feet—not, apparently, the oversize, floppy appendages imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien.