Now if we found a skeleton that was missing a finger we'd be onto something.
Sauron as has been noted was a Maiar and therefor of the Ainur akin to the Valar of whom Professor T said that their real appearance was of images of power and dread but that they clothed themselves in a physical body as a form of raiment. Over time the ability to change appearance, like all powers brought into the world, diminishes. Sauron while only a Maiar, a big Balrog, in the First Age could transform himself into a Werewolf and a giant Vampire bat. Later he could still assume an appearance that was pleasing or terrifying. The later efforts of Saruman with King Theoden are a shadowy reminder of the creative power that all who were present at the Singing into Creation could draw upon and a pale echo of how Sauron had dealt with Ar Pharazon. When Sauron was caught in the Fall of Númenor he lost the ability to assume an appearance that was fair. He did not lose the ability to assume a physical presence. Kindly old Professor T said that he appeared as a large man. After the destruction of the Ring he lost even that power, becoming a shadow that gnawed on itself in corners until eventually it gained enough of a presence to cause mischief. My guess is that after sulking for another 4,000 years Sauron invented Athlete's Foot.
When men die their souls go to the Halls of Mandos and stay there until at the End they will be sent Elsewhere (cue music). When elves die they go to the Halls and then get sent back to Middle Earth to try again. Orcs being degenerate elves it is unclear what happens to their spirits or if there was a time line as Morgoth corrupted them that would have clued the Valar into what was happening.
The Ainur are truly Immortal spirits and their physical presence in the world may be seen as a projection while their reality remains elsewhere. They are hard to contain or control. The actual expulsion of Morgoth from the Circles of the World was a major task, taking the combined efforts of all of his peers. When Saruman died his spirit looked to the West and the West rejected him. Something similar happened to Sauron. Perhaps the slow ebbing of their power, what I suspect was linked to their memory of the Great Song, was like a battery slowly losing its charge, until it could be dispersed. Gandalf alone of those who was at the Beginning remembered and therefor kept his Power and could go back.
Since there was a physical union between Maiar and Elves (hard to see how that could be) and then Elves and Men some echo of that memory ran in the bloodlines of both Aragorn and his distant cousin Arwen. How this view of the linking of Power to the memory of the Song before Eru Ilvutar relates to the fate of Radagast or Bombadil I do not know. Radagast's fate was a loose end and Bombadil, like Beorn in The Hobbit was simply outside the Cosmology.
There is a Plan B explanation. The hobbits in Flores are an indication of what happens to Heros of Socialist Labor when they live under a strict carbon neutral regime for the benefit of the rapacious Demon Manbearpig Gore.
(Me) wins the 2009 award for best post, long form, non-legal subject
Thank you. I will visit more and write less.
BTW, When Sauron went to Númenor he left the Ring behind with The Nine for safekeeping. When he rebuilt the Dark Tower he took it up again. So apparently precious as it was he was confident that it was safe off his finger and he did not need it to effect the destruction of Númenor.
there is little if any evidence that Neanderthals and modern humans co-existedYou never met any of my old bosses.