“Hobbits! Dragons! Weird elephants and ancient mysteries! It’s the stuff of literary and box office gold. And it turns out it’s the stuff of prehistory, too! In 2004 a group of paleontologists working on the island of Flores, a part of the Indonesian archipelago, discovered the bones of small people in a cave called Liang Bua. The bones represented several individuals that were only 3’ 6” tall (A little more than a meter for the metrically inclined). Our guest this week, Dr. William Jungers from Stony Brook University and past guest Dr. Susan Larson, were invited to join the team to work on the skeleton ofHomo floresiensisor “The Hobbit.” The skull ofHomo floresiensis was weird, with a tiny brain and primitive features that connected the species to a more ancient species of hominin (bipedal apes) thanHomo sapiens. Initial work on the fossils suggested the hobbits were small versions ofHomo erectusone of the first bipedal apes to make it to Asia with large brains and tall statures. But the evidence has begun to pile up connectingHomo floresiensis to a smaller, less-brainy species calledHomo habilis, a species that was never thought to have made it out of Africa. Get caught up on the state of hobbit science in this episode of Past Time and be prepared for even more fascinating discoveries to come out of Flores!