'Hobbits' Were Just Short on Food: Scientists

Others say Indonesian remains were dwarfish new species
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2008 2:00 PM CST

(Newser) – In a new volley in the back and forth over whether "hobbit" fossils found on an Indonesian island were a separate species, a research team says the remains are those of modern humans suffering from malnutrition-induced dwarfism. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in humans growing less than 3 feet tall—and looking similar to the fossils found in Indonesia, the BBC reports.

"Our research suggests that these fossils are not a new species but rather the remains of human hunter-gatherers that suffered from this condition," says the head of the Australian team, which has not examined the original fossils. "The conclusions in this paper are not supported by the facts," complains one of the scientists who found the fossils.