The finds caused a sensation when they were announced to the world in 2004. But some researchers argued the bones belonged to a modern human with a combination of small stature and a brain disorder called microcephaly. That claim is rejected by the latest study, which compares the tiny people with modern microcephalics. Microcephaly is a rare pathological condition in humans characterised by a small brain and cognitive impairment.
In the new study, Dean Falk, of Florida State University, and her colleagues say the remains are those of a completely separate human species: Homo floresiensis. They have published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The remains at the centre of the Hobbit controversy were discovered at Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, in 2003.