Elephants, for example, tend to get smaller, since without many carnivores, they have no need to maintain such big, bulky bodies. Remains suggest that the hobbits hunted primitive elephants called Stegodon.
In contrast to the pygmy elephants, a type of stork and lizard evolved larger bodies on Flores, probably because predators were few and food was plentiful.
Known distribution of Homo erectus extends all the way from Africa to parts of Europe and Asia. Thus far, it looks like they could not survive the extreme cold of the North, but they did reach at least the one isolated island.
"So there are chances that they were also present on other near-shore islands of that region, such as Sulawesi and possibly the Philippines," Kaifu said.
Yet another likely regional population of Homo erectus, called "Peking man," inhabited the Asian continent, but it is still unclear if they evolved into more advanced humans or even interbred with Homo sapiens arriving from Africa. DNA analysis of what are known as Denisovans from Melanesia, Australia and the Philippines suggest that some interbreeding did indeed take place.
As for the hobbit human's contribution to the mix, much hinges on the brain size, given how that either strengthens or weakens the possible relationship to Homo erectus.
Dean Falk, whose team previously estimated the brain to be smaller, told Discovery News that the new measurement is "the most precise estimate available to date because it has been calculated with improved methods and great care." Falk, a Florida State University professor of anthropology, hopes that the "thoughtful and thorough analysis" will move "the discussion forward" about H. floresiensis.
William Jungers, professor and chairman of Stony Brook University Medical Center's Department of Anatomical Sciences, said, "this is the normal brain of a very small and now extinct human relative that evolved in isolation for at least a million years on Flores Island."
Jungers continued, "The founding population of this tiny hominin may well have been SE Asian Homo erectus, as Dr. Kaifu proposes, but I think there is the possibility that Homo floresiensis might be descended from an even more primitive, smaller bodied and smaller brained ancestor."
The human evolution plot forever thickens, so stay tuned for future discoveries.