Mysterious ‘hobbit’ human species ‘may not be extinct as thought’, expert says

Homo floresiensis
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The sighting of an ‘ape-man’ in Indonesia could be proof that the species Homo floresiensis, thought to be long extinct, is still alive today, according to an anthropologist. But other experts are skeptical.

A digital recreation of the species Homo Floresiensis, nicknamed the “hobbit”

An early human species nicknamed the ‘hobbit’ and thought to have disappeared extinct thousands of years ago, may still be alive today, an expert has controversially claimed.

Homo floresiensis, nicknamed the “hobbit” because he was about 3ft 6in tall, is said to have lived on the island of Flores, now part of Indonesiabetween 60,000 and 700,000 years ago.

He was a small-brained, big-footed toolmaker and it is unclear where the species evolved from.

Now, an anthropologist has surprisingly claimed that the “hobbit” could be alive and well today.

Gregory Forth, who worked at the University of Alberta before retiring, argues that sightings of an “ape-man” on Flores could be proof that the ancient human ancestor still exists.

What the species Homo floresiensis might have looked like


Stuart Hay /

A skull of the species, widely believed to be extinct, was discovered in 2003


Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

He said Live Science “We just don’t know when this species went extinct or dare I say – I dare say – we don’t even know if it’s extinct. So there’s a possibility that it’s still alive .”

But other experts on Homo floresiensis are understandably skeptical of this seemingly wild claim.

“Flores is an island that is about the same size as Connecticut and has two million people living there today,” John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison told Live Science.

The population is spread all over the island, he added.

“Really, the idea that there’s a large primate that’s not observed on this island that survives in a population that can sustain itself is pretty close to zero,” Hawks said.

The species was unknown until the skull and other bones were discovered 19 years ago


Stuart Hay /

Forth, who has been carrying out anthropological research on the island since 1984, disagrees. Over the years he heard of a number of local sightings of small hairy humanoid creatures living in the forest and wrote about them in his research until 2003 when Homo floresiensis was first discovered and Forth made the connection.

“I heard about these little human-like creatures in an area called Lio, said to be still alive, and people were talking about what they looked like,” he explained.

In an excerpt from his new book, Between Ape and Human: An Anthropologist on the Trail of a Hidden Hominoid, (Pegasus Books, 2022), Forth writes about an interview with a man who says he got rid of the corpse of ‘a creature that could was not an ape but it was not a human either, with straight, light-colored hair on the body, a well-shaped nose and the tip of a tail.

The cave where the first skeletons were found on Flores, Indonesia



Since he began his research, Forth has collected 30 eyewitness accounts of similar creatures that he says fit the description of the “hobbit”.

Bones of Homo floresiensis – thought to come from at least nine individuals – were first discovered at Liang Bua on Flores in 2003. The skeletons included a complete skull.

The youngest evidence that hobbits use the cave dates back to 50,000 years ago, Elizabeth Veatch, a zooarchaeologist who studies the species, told Live Science.

“Based on faunal evidence, there was likely an environmental change that occurred around 60,000 years ago that altered the landscape around Liang Bua, which caused Homo floresiensis migrate elsewhere on the island to forage in more suitable habitats,” Veatch said.

A Homo floresiensis. fossil found at Mata Menge on Flores in 2014


Kinez Riza/

In 2014, archaeologists discovered another site on Flores, Mata Menge, with bones dating back around 700,000 years. They are thought to come from a much older population of Homo floresiensis. Stone tools were also found at the site.

The species has not been found on any other island apart from Flores.

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