We probably drove hobbits to extinction.

Nature reveals new evidence that shows Homo floresiensis is way older than we thought – and may well have been driven to extinction by modern humans:

After researchers discovered H. floresiensis, which they nicknamed the hobbit, in Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, they concluded that its skeletal remains were as young as 11,000 years old. But later excavations that have dated more rock and sediment around the remains now suggest that hobbits were gone from the cave by 50,000 years ago, according to a study published in Nature on 30 March.

That is around the time that modern humans moved through southeast Asia and Australia. “I can’t believe that it is purely coincidence, based on what else we know happens when modern humans enter a new area,” says Richard Roberts, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He notes that Neanderthals vanished soon after early modern humans arrived in Europe from Africa.

The older dates resolve the mystery of how hobbits co-existed with humans for tens of thousands of years: they didn’t. But other questions linger. Researchers have little clue about H. floresiensis’ evolutionary relationship to other ancient-human relatives, and whether they mated with humans or other species is an open question.