London, April 17 : Anthropologists have suggested that 'hobbits' - tiny prehistoric humans, had flat, clown-like feet, which probably limited their speed to a stroll and kept its travels short.
The 'hobbits', who are formally known as Homo floresiensis, have been named after the diminutive characters of famous author J.R.R.Tolkein's epic saga "Lord of the Rings".
According to a report in New Scientist, the research team from the State University of New York analysed the nearly complete left foot of an 18,000-year-old hobbit skeleton dubbed LB1, found on the Indonesian island of Flores.
The team estimated the length of the hobbit's feet, which were unusually large for its metre-high frame.
Because of their long feet, H. floresiensis probably had to bend its knee further back than modern humans do, resulting in a sort of high-stepped gait.
"You would watch these hobbits walk and say they're walking a little funny," said Bill Jungers, an anthropologist at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. The foot had other peculiar features as well.
For one, its big toe was quite short compared with the others, similar to earlier hominids such as Australopithecus.
"However, the shape of the toes, even the short big toe, is like modern human ones," said Jungers. "It has a human morphology and an ape-like proportion," he added.
Jungers and other researchers who claim the hobbit was a distinct species from Homo sapiens point to the foot as further evidence supporting their theory.
It has been suggested that the hobbit suffered from a severe block to growth known as cretinism or a disease called microcephaly that leads to miniaturised heads.
According to Henry McHenry, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, "It puts another nail in the coffin of the disease hypothesis."