I've found limited info on how they may have lived.

Physically, we've deduced the so-called "hobbits" used stone tools and hunted dwarf elephants in the Liang Bua cave, in hilly terrain 600 m/2000 ft. 50-100 years ago the region saw grasslands expand but rain forest persisted, maybe around the cave.

Physically they were small with long arms, short legs, and long feet and stood upright but they might have been partly arboreal. Very small brains suggest limited intelligence but they made tools etc. Homo luzonensis, a possible sister species, was active in the Philippines in the same era, and also left remains in a cave alongside game it may have hunted with stone tools. Its curved fingers suggest it was more arboreal.

Both may have descended from H. erectus in the region and undergone island dwarfing. But to reach their respective islands both would have had to cross deep ocean straits, whether by accident on natural rafts of debris, by boat technology, or some other method, and many islands and long distances lay in between.

H. sapiens and chimpanzees have fission-fusion societies. Different baboon species vary. Orangutans are more solitary, bonobos more gregarious and peaceful.

Are there any clues, hypotheses, etc. to suggest if how the social structure or hobbits might have been?

Can you suggest a better forum?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the Biology Stack Exchange. Please take the tour and visit the help center for more information on this site and how it works. Please note we expect some evidence of you having done some homework - simply saying you haven't found anything isn't enough - tell us where you looked and what you know already. Small brain size doesn't correlate with intelligence - it's due to the folds on the brain, which can be seen in the shape of the skull when scanned. H. floresiensis has these folds and was likely quite intelligent. $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 24 at 20:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Most anthropologists will tell you that it's incredibly difficult to know anything about social structures so far into the past. We can, at this time, only make limited inferences based on evidence that survives (typically more hardy materials). $\endgroup$
    – natb
    Commented Mar 27 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


Almost universally, there is little evidence for the social structures of early hominids. Such things simply do not survive in the fossil record.

You may be able to glean some idea of homo floresiensis social structure by researching the societies of hunter gather people who still exist today and have histories going back tens of thousands of years. They tend to live in groups of families, and have relationships with other groups, some friendly, some adversarial, who's territories border on theirs. Those borders they protect.

For example Australia’s original inhabitants:

The leaders of society are the elders – the most senior men and women who are respected by others. Important decisions are made by a council of elders, which include clan leaders and the most respected elders of the tribe. Australian tribes were not ruled by chiefs, but they had senior men who might be regarded as the best warrior, the best spear-maker, a medicine man, or being particularly wise. Aboriginal society has separate names for up to seventy family relationship terms in some tribes. That is, far more than the European terms “father/mother”, “grandfather/grandmother”, “uncle/aunt” etc. Under their family and society rules, people have obligations towards certain relatives, and these obligations are reciprocated.extract from

Or the bushmen of the Kalahari (San)

Traditionally, the San were an egalitarian society. Although they had hereditary chiefs, their authority was limited. The San made decisions among themselves by consensus, with women treated as relative equals in decision making. San economy was a gift economy, based on giving each other gifts regularly rather than on trading or purchasing goods and services. Most San are monogamous, but if a hunter is able to obtain enough food, he can afford to have a second wife as well. wikipedia

As you suggest in your question, the social structures of chimpanzees and other apes may give some indications of how these people lived. Jane Goodall says that chimpanzee behavior is very similar to human, even to the extent of having wars.
From Jane Goodall’s expositions on the life of chimpanzees:

Much of a chimpanzee’s life, especially male chimpanzees, is dedicated to climbing up or being knocked down the chimpanzee social ladder. Those on top need to fight to stay at the top, and those at the bottom need to find a way to improve their lot if they want a chance at fathering offspring and access to the best resources. This, however, is only one component of the complexity of chimpanzee behavior, as they also demonstrate altruism, share resources and knowledge with one another, and build strong friendships. It seems there is always more to learn about these perplexing primates! Goodall

Or here for a rigorous mathematical approach :

Chimpanzees organize their social relationships like humans Nature

It can be seen from the last two references that chimpanzee social relationship echo that of humans and so may be a good indicator of some of the basic relationships that might have existed among homo floresiensis.


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