Bilbo Floresiensis

Once upon a time a tiny human species with large feet shared the planet with our own kind. It hunted giant rats and miniature cousins of the elephant, defended its kills from monstrous storks and dodged fearsome dragons. This is not the plot of a lost Tolkien book. This really happened. I’m referring, of course, to our extinct relative Homo floresiensis, which lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia as recently as 17,000 years ago and has for obvious reasons been dubbed the hobbit. It turns out that despite the species’ small size, it may have looked rather familiar, according to a scientific reconstruction.

There is something about using the word “it” to describe these cute, old folks that feels… wrong, even though it’s not. But “fearsome dragons?” Are you sure? The Hobbit hits theaters Friday.

Related: “What Dwarf From the Hobbit Are You?