Hobbits Might Actually Have Existed. Here's Why

It's been speculated that in the middle of the earth, in the land of the Shire, there was, at some point, a brave little hobbit with qualities that a lot of people find admirable. Evidence, for the most part, has been limited to Martin Freeman vehicles, J.R.R. Tolkien books, and one odd mid-sixties novelty track designed to show Leonard Nimoy's range. For the most part.

Then, in 2003, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, a discovery was made on the Indonesian island of Flores. There, in the Liang Bua cave system, they found the 18,000 year old remains of an adult woman who stood just three feet tall. While unspectacular in its own right, as varieties of dwarfism have never been uncommon, there is some evidence to suggest that this was a member of a previously undocumented human subspecies. A subspecies which subsisted on pygmy elephants, komodo dragons, and giant rats.

And listen, Tolkien fans, that was just for breakfast. Wait until you hear about the second breakfast.

The 'Tolkien' little guy

Scientists were divided on exactly what the diminutive body represented. 

On the one hand, you there were the killjoys, theorizing that this was just a very old human suffering from microencephalia, which Live Science describes as "a pathological condition characterized by a small head, short stature," and developmental delays.

Alternatively, researchers with light in their eyes and a drive towards finding a more magical world? They dubbed the body Homo floresiensis, declaring it a new species. Further analysis of the cave in which she was found yielded further remains. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, evidence of as many as twelve more members of her species were found in the cave. H.floresiensis exhibited unusual wrist structure and, appropriately enough, over-sized feet. No word on if said feet were especially hairy. Along with their small stature and relatively tiny brains, that was enough for them to be largely accepted as a legitimate new taxon.

As for the lifestyle of real, Stone Age hobbits? That's largely up for debate. They did use simple stone tools, but researchers have yet to determine what, if anything, they felt with regards to the "Precious."