Thursday, April 14, 2005

Frodo Lives!

As most of us have heard by now, a new species of tiny humans, Homo floresiensis, was recently discovered in Indonesia. Dubbed 'hobbits' by their discoverers, the adults of this species stood about three feet tall. Their remains were found in cave deposits, associated with stone tools and the bones of pygmy elephants.

Small stature isn't the only thing startling about these fossils. They had very small brains that were less than a third the size of a modern human, and small even for a chimpanzee. They also date to as recent as 13,000 years ago - yesterday in geological time.

In an earlier post I pointed out the similarity between the genetic history of the Mlabri, a nomadic hunter-gatherer group in Southeast Asia, and the oral tradition passed down among the neighboring Tin Prai group of how the Mlabri came into being.
(Where did we come from?)

Interestingly, local folktales on the island of Flores where the 'hobbits' were found recount a group of diminutive, hairy people with flat foreheads who are said to have lived in caves on the island until the 19th century.

Are they passing on the memory of sharing the world with another species of human? It's an intriguing possibility.

For more on Homo floresiensis:
National Geographic
Nature
Homo floresiensis: A miniature human relation from Flores

2 comments:

bevjackson said...

Fascinating. No! I had NOT heard about them at all and am just intrigued. Many thanks for the links! (nothing new under the sun, eh? Fiction is a fiction!)

Sharon Hurlbut said...

It IS fascinating. I thought it was a joke the first time I heard about it. I can't get over the image of tiny people hunting tiny elephants - it's great.