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I have read the LOTR trilogy more than once. I feel (from many nuances and some plain text of Tolkien's) that halflings are distantly related to Elves, perhaps descending from common lineage. Whether or not Tolkien described them as sharing at least one physical trait with elves (pointed ears, as depicted in the movies) I cannot recall.

However, Tolkien does say that they "looked like elf children in the deeps of time", when Peregrin and Meriadoc enter Fangorn forest. And he describes hobbits as having "little or no magic"; implying that some may have a little.

For certain Lady Galadriel and other elves loved them...

I know he says that they are "closer to us than to Dwarves...", but I feel that they are sylvan...

  • See this question for whether Hobbits have pointed ears. – Daniel Roseman Apr 6 at 8:21
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    Most magic in Middle-Earth is of the quiet, subtle sort that leaves you wondering it if it was magic at all. In the case of hobbits, the magic -- if it is magic -- is the ability to remain unseen by the Big Folk. – Mark Apr 6 at 22:17
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    I don't know if I would agree that "vanishing" when big people stumble by is the only magic implied by Tolkien; on several occasions hobbits (not the ring-bearer) were depicted having strange visions/dreams/premonitions... – Jimmy Fix-it Apr 6 at 23:00
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They (like we) are cousins to the Elves. First, from Tolkien's Letters

I suppose that actually the chief difficulties I have involved myself in are scientific and biological - which worry me just as much as the theological and metaphysical (though you do not seem to mind them so much). Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring - even as a rare event: there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Earendil.

Tolkien quite correctly notes that at least as far as biology is concerned, Elves and Men are one species. (Thanks to @Shamshiel for finding this excellent quote!)

And in LotR, Tolkien says:

It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves.

So Men, Hobbits and Elves (and maybe Dwarves) are all a single species. In our world this would mean they had a common ancestor, but the Silmarillion makes clear that Elves and Men (and presumably Hobbits) were created separately, but were a single species.

The Elves came first:

It is told that even as Varda ended her labours, and they were long, when first Menelmacar strode up the sky and the blue fire of Helluin flickered in the mists above the borders of the world, in that hour the Children of the Earth awoke, the Firstborn of Iluvatar. By the starlit mere of Cuivinen, Water of Awakening, they rose from the sleep of Iluvatar;

Men came later:

Now the Children of Iluvatar are Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers.

Elves awoke in the darkness of Middle Earth while Valinor was still lit by the light of the Two Trees. Many of the Elves followed Orome to Valinor and lived there for ages before the Noldor rebelled and returned to Middle-Earth. It was at that time, after the Darkening of Valinor, that the Sun and the Moon were fashioned with the last light of the Trees. The Sun rose for the first time just as the Noldor returned to Middle Earth and

At the first rising of the Sun the Younger Children of Iluvatar awoke in the land of Hildrien in the eastward regions of Middle-earth;

So Elves predated men by uncounted centuries.

As far as I know, Tolkien never stated whether Men and Hobbits were created separately and arose at different times or places or if the close to ten thousand years between the awakening of Men and the first glimpse we have of Hobbits was long enough for them to have naturally evolved their small stature, furry feet and longer lifetimes.

But, regardless, we're all the same species.

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    It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. - That's interesting. "Even than Dwarves" implies that Dwarves are nearer to us than Elves. Considering the way Dwarves came about, I've always figured that they are far more distant from us than almost any other creature - even if they are anatomically similar. – Misha R Apr 6 at 4:13
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    @MishaR I read this as a comparison of Dwarves (and Elves, and "us") to Hobbits, not to Men. Hobbits and Dwarves have a lot in common (size, preference for living below ground, general attitude etc.), so it would be natural to assume they are near relatives, but Men are "even" nearer to Hobbits. – Annatar Apr 6 at 6:48
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    Note that this definition of species (can interbreed == same species) isn't really used in science any more (and doesn't hold water either: lions and tigers can interbreed, for example, but are not considered one species). Also, all species have a common ancestor in our world. So the fact that they are the same species doesn't have any bearing on whether or not they have a common ancestor. They would, by definition, no matter how many different species you would classify them as. – terdon Apr 6 at 10:50
  • I thought hobbits were descended from the race of Men, and that Gollum was a human proto-hobbit? – nick012000 Apr 7 at 6:07
  • Some interesting discussion here, but it was getting a bit long, so I've moved it to chat. – Rand al'Thor Apr 7 at 17:08

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