A new study of three wrist bones from an 18,000-year-old fossil shows that the so-called hobbits of Indonesia were, indeed, a separate human species. When the bones were discovered in 2003, scientists trumpeted the find as evidence of a smaller species, Homo floresiensis. But skeptics argued that the hobbit, at 3 feet tall with a brain the size of a grapefruit, was in fact a human afflicted by microcephaly, a brain-shrinking disorder.
Smithsonian researchers writing in the journal Science confirmed that the wrist bones were like those of an ape's, indicating a species far older than homo sapiens. They speculate that the hobbit may have left Africa before the emergence of homo sapiens' direct ancestor, homo erectus.