CAMBRIDGE, England, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- British scientists say they've determined the small brain of Homo floresiensis, a small-brained extinct hominid popularly known as 'the Hobbit,' was normal.
The fossils of the hominids were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. Since then, controversy has centered on whether the Hobbits' small brain was actually due to a pathological condition.
In the new study, researchers Nick Mundy and Stephen Montgomery of Cambridge University, and colleagues from Durham University, used previously published data from living and extinct species to reconstruct the pattern of brain and body mass evolution in larger primates.
"Our results provide robust confirmation for the suggestion that strong evolutionary trends have governed the expansion of the primate brain," Mundy said. "We find that, under reasonable assumptions, the reduction in brain size during the evolution of Homo floresiensis is not unusual in comparison to these other primates. Along with other recent studies on the effects of 'island dwarfism' in other mammals, these results support the hypothesis that the small brain of Homo floresiensis was adapted to local ecological conditions on Flores."
The study is reported in the journal BMC Biology.