Update: A study published in the journal Nature in March 2016 reveals that the last Homo floresiensis probably died around 50,000 years ago, much earlier than previously estimated. An earlier study which estimated that the species became extinct about 12,000 years ago suffered from errors in dating.

When Homo floresiensis was discovered in 2003, the archeologists at Ling Bua Cave only excavated a small portion of the cave. Years later, after more extensive studies of the cave have taken place, evidence has emerged that the original team incorrectly identified the order of stratigraphic layers.

Researchers now conclude that the latest stone tools found at Ling Bua Cave are about 50,000 years old, and the youngest skeletal remains are around 60,000 years old.

If Homo floresiensis died out around 50,000 years ago, they would have disappeared shortly after modern humans appeared. This means that modern humans probably wiped out Homo floresiensis instead of coexisting with them.

Revised stratigraphy and chronology for Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua in Indonesia, Nature

Learn more about fossil dating


Homo floresiensis is a species of small-statured, small-brained early human beings that have been nicknamed Hobbits because of their size.

Homo floresiensis skeletons were found in Liang Bua Cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia in 2003. The skeletons are between 13,000 and 38,000 years old.

Homo floresiensis would have coexisted with modern humans (Homo sapiens) on Flores.

They are thought to have become extinct when a volcano erupted on Flores 12,000 years ago.


Homo floresiensis stood between three and a half and four feet tall.

Its brain was about the same size as the brain of a small chimpanzee or Australopithecine and about half the size of the brain of Homo erectus.

However, the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain associated with self awareness - was the same size as in Homo sapiens.

Homo floresiensis had flat feet that were large in comparison to the rest of its body.

Some scientists have argued that the skeletons on Flores did not belong to a different species, but to modern humans, such as pygmies, who suffered from microcephaly - a genetic disorder in which the skull and brain are abnormally small.

However, Homo floresiensis had characteristics other than body and brain size that distinguished it from Homo sapiens.

Some of Homo floresiensis' arm and leg bones and joints differed from those of modern humans, but resembled those of chimpanzees and earlier humans, such as Australopithecus.

Homo floresiensis had no chin, and its teeth differed from Homo sapiens' teeth.

Its brain structure differed from that of a modern human.

The frontal and temporal lobes of Homo floresiensis' brain were well developed; they would not be well developed in a modern human being with microcephaly.

The skull of Homo floresiensis resembled that of Homo erectus.

In 2009, a statistical analysis of the skull shapes of ancient human species, healthy modern humans and modern humans with microcephaly showed that Homo floresiensis should be placed with the ancient human species.


Sophisticated stone tools were found in Liang Bua Cave along with the Homo floresiensis skeletons.

There was also evidence of a cooking fire at the cave.

Homo floresiensis hunted a dwarf elephant known as the stegodon. Stegodon bones with cut marks on them were found along with the Homo floresiensis remains.