Especially small "humans", that died out on the Indonesian island of Flores nearly 15,000 years ago, were not Homo sapiens but a different species, according to a study brought on by much debate.
Phys.org reports, "Fossils of Homo floresiensis—dubbed "the hobbits" due to their tiny stature—were discovered on the island of Flores in 2003.
Controversy has raged ever since as to whether they are an unknown branch of early humans or specimens of modern man deformed by disease.
The new study, based on an analysis of the skull bones, shows once and for all that the pint-sized people were not Homo sapiens, according to the researchers."
ABC writes, "One school of thought holds that so-called Flores Man descended from the larger Homo erectus and became smaller over hundreds of generations. The proposed process for this is called "insular dwarfing".
Animals, after migrating across land bridges during periods of low sea level, wind up marooned on islands as oceans rise and their size progressively diminishes if the supply of food declines.
An adult hobbit stood one metre tall and weighed about 25 kilograms."
According to Antoine Balzeau, a scientist at France's Natural History Museum, "So far, we have been basing our conclusions on images where you don't really see very much." The results, he said, were unambiguous: "There were no characteristics from our species" — that is, Homo sapiens.
There is still some mystery as to whether the "hobbit" was a smaller version of Homo Erectus or if it was a species in its own right. "For the moment, we can't say one way or the other," Mr Balzeau said.