A scientist has claimed that a 'Hobbit-like' form of human could still be alive and living on an island in Indonesia following the discovery of a complete skeleton.
The skeleton, which was found on Flores, Indonesia about 20 years ago was named 'Homo floresiensis' in honour of the island where the discovery was made.
Homo floresiensis was believed to have existed for 12,000 years before it went extinct and was compared to the Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings series due to their diminutive size. However, further research suggested that the had only lasted until 50,000 years before they died out.
That theory is now being thrown into a tailspin by an anthropologist called Gregory Forth who is proposing that Homo floresiensis never died out at all and is still thriving on Flores.
This is based on several eye-witness reports that 'ape-men' have been spotted in the forests on Flores, which he feels points towards evidence that the extinct species are still alive.
In an opinion piece penned in The Scientist in April 2022, Forth writes: "My aim in writing the book was to find the best explanation - that is, the most rational and empirically best supported - of Lio accounts of the creatures.
"These include reports of sightings by more than 30 eyewitnesses, all of whom I spoke with directly.
"And I conclude that the best way to explain what they told me is that a non-sapiens hominin has survived on Flores to the present or very recent times."
He adds that locals could see "the ape-man’s appearance as something incompletely human makes the creature anomalous and hence problematic and disturbing."
Forth concludes his essay by saying instinct would suggest the sightings of the creatures was "imaginary" but says that he trusts the word of the local people.
He continues: "What they say about the creatures, supplemented by other sorts of evidence, is fully consistent with a surviving hominin species, or one that only went extinct within the last 100 years.
"For reasons I discuss in the book, no field zoologist is yet looking for living specimens of H. floresiensis or related hominin species. But this does not mean that they cannot be found."