The modern pygmies of Flores are not related to Homo floresiensis
On the Indonesian island of Flores, less than a mile from the cave where archaeologists discovered the fossil remains of the small-statured hominin Homo floresiensis, there’s a village called Rampasasa that is home to a small population of pygmies. “Pygmy” is the scientific term for a group of people where adult males are less than about 4.7 feet tall but whose bodies have average human proportions. Most of the people living in Rampasasa fit that description.
It would be easy to assume they’re related to the other short-statured residents of Flores, and in fact some of the Rampasasans themselves have made that claim in the past. But a new genetic study says that’s not the case. These people show no signs of H. floresiensis in their ancestry, but their genomes do show evidence of a relatively recent adaptation toward shorter height. That means that people with short stature evolved twice on the same island, tens of thousands of years apart.
The hobbits are gone
Evolutionary biologist Serena Tucci of Princeton University and her colleagues obtained DNA samples from 32 people in Rampasasa. They sequenced the full genomes of 10 of those people and looked for signs of an ancient encounter with H. floresiensis or some other unknown hominin relative.