Excavation of a Hobbit Cave: Photos

New excavations at an Indonesian cave introduce more mystery into the demise of Hobbit humans.

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Adult so-called Hobbits (Homo floresiensis) only stood about 3.5 feet tall. New research determined that these diminutive humans vanished from a cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia, around 50,000 years ago. What (or who) killed them off?

Suspicious: Hobbits Vanish When Modern Humans Appear

The latest excavations at Liang Bua limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores show that the Hobbits, as well as many other animals, disappeared 38,000 years earlier than thought. Their disappearance coincides with the time that our species first arrived in the region.

Photos: Faces of Our Ancestors

While our species is suspect, there are other possible explanations for the demise of Hobbit humans. One is the tiny elephant relative, pygmy


, might have been hunted to death, leading to a devastating chain reaction.

Hobbit Human Teeth Reveal Surprising History

Big climate shifts and volcano eruptions could have also doomed the hobbits. Here is a view of Liang Bua cave, as seen from the road out front.

'Hobbit Humans' Actually Might Not Have Been Human

Earlier confusion about when the Hobbits and associated animals died out at Flores had to do with the depth and complexity of the cave site's geological layers. Archaeological excavations at Liang Bua can reach depths of more than 8 meters (26 feet), as shown in this photo.

Shown is a

Homo sapiens

skull (left) next to

Homo floresiensis

skull (right). Did our species kill off the Hobbits? Or did we interbreed and incorporate Hobbit human DNA in their genes? Scientists are still looking for the answers.