It’s not every day that scientists discover a new human species.
But that’s just what happened back in 2004, when archaeologists uncovered some very well-preserved fossil remains in the Liang Bua cave on Flores Island, Indonesia. The diminutive size of this new human species, Homo floresiensis, earned it the nickname “Hobbit.”
Shockingly, researchers believed it had survived until the end of the last Ice Age, some 18,000 years ago. That was much later than Neanderthals lived, later than any human species other than our own.
So why did tiny humans wind up living on these islands? For us biogeographers and evolutionary biologists, the answer was right in front of us: the island rule.