One explanation for the short stature of the creature was that it was some sort of modern human suffering from a deforming disease.
New research seems to suggest that in fact H. floresiensis was a unique species with very unusual anatomy. By analyzing dwarf hippopotamus skeletons from Madagascar and comparing them to their African ancestors researchers found that the small brain of H. floresiensis might have been merely an effect of confinement on an island rather than having been caused by disease.
A second study found that foot bones in the skeleton were considerably longer in proportion to the rest of the body. In this way, the new species appears to be more closely related to older human ancestors.
Photo Credit: William Jungers/ARKENAS