Dwarf Human Species:

No Small Discovery

* Scientists have made an amazing discovery of a species of dwarf humans that lived for thousands of years on an Indonesian island along with giant lizards and miniature elephants.

The discovery includes bones of five to seven people. The most complete skeleton is of a three-foot-tall adult woman, who lived about 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores.

"They're all tiny. No big people," said scientist Peter Brown.

Homo floresiensis or Flores Man, named for the island of Flores, had a brain the size of a grapefruit. Evidence indicates that the people made tools, lit fires and hunted in groups for meat.

Because Flores Man looks nothing like modern man, scientists think the people might have been more closely related to a long-extinct human ancestor, Homo erectus. Perhaps that ancestor became marooned on Flores and then adapted to the limited space and food supply by evolving into the smaller species.

While scientists might disagree about how Flores Man came to be, no one disagrees with Ken Mowbray of the American Museum of Natural History: "This is a great fossil find. . . . It's really cool."

The skull and body of Homo floresiensis, left, is smaller than current Homo sapiens.