So much about the extinct little people nicknamed hobbits remains roundly contentious 10 years after their fossils were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. But a new study has weighed in with strong support for the original hypothesis about them: that they were remnants of a previously unknown distinct species of the genus Homo that lived as recently as 17,000 years ago.
Detailed comparisons show that the single skull among the skeletal remains is “clearly distinct” from skulls of healthy modern humans, the study said. Thus the fossil specimen may well deserve its designation as a representative of an extinct species, which scientists have called Homo floresiensis.
Much of the debate has centered on arguments by skeptics that these small-bodied, small-brained hominins were nothing more than modern Homo sapiens who had one of a number of growth disorders, possibly microcephaly, Laron syndrome or endemic hypothyroidism, known as cretinism.
For the rest of the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/science/hobbits-size-not-likely-linked-to-growth-disorders.html?ref=science