Question Sheet: A Big Discovery about Little People


Before reading:

  1. Which animals are most closely related to humans? 
  2. What can scientists learn from fossils?

During reading:

  1. Describe the difference between a Homo (H.)

    sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, and H. floresiensis

  2. Why were scientists surprised by the discovery of H. floresiensis
  3. What did the hobbits of Flores look like? 
  4. How did scientists show that they were not people who had microcephaly? 
  5. How does the discovery of hobbits affect our understanding of human


  6. Describe some skills that people have and that hobbits also had.

After reading:

  1. Why might the hobbits have gone extinct? 
  2. How is the discovery of a new human species different than discovering

    another animal species? 

  3. Why would scientists consider the hobbit to be the most important discovery

    in anthropology in 50 years? 

  4. Humans vary in appearance, but we are all considered the same species. What

    makes hobbits a different species? In general, what distinguishes closely

    related species from one another? 

  5. Why do you think scientists found the hobbit bones in a limestone cave?

    Where else might you look for bones of ancient humans?


  1. How do anthropologists piece together what life was like for the hobbits?

    Research and write a short essay about how anthropologists and archaeologists

    reconstruct (or figure out) ancient people’s customs and behaviors. 

  2. How would you get to the island of Flores? Plan a five-day trip to Indonesia

    that includes a visit to Flores. Where else would you go?


The name Homo floresiensis is not very catchy. However, hobbits already exist in mythology (including Lord of the Rings), so that name could be confusing for a species that actually existed. Propose another name for this recently discovered species of humans.

Explain why you chose the new name.