Posted by: drew | March 6, 2006

In case you missed it: Hobbits really existed.

Perhaps you were sleeping. Or maybe you were strung out. Could you have possibly been obsessed with the ’04 Elections? Nah, I bet you were busy watching American Idol. That’s the ticket!

Well, in case you missed it, a team of Australian and Indonesian archaelogists discovered a race of mini-me’s 18 feet beneath the floor of a limestone cave on the remote isle of Flores, east of Bali.
When I say “mini-me’s”, I don’t mean a race of leg-humping, chocolate eating henchmen. I am in fact referring to an entirely new species of human. Do you remember learning about the Neanderthals and Homo Erectus in school? Those hominids weren’t our ancestors, but instead represented a different branch in the tree of Human evolution.Homo floresiensis alongside Homo sapiens.

When three skeletons of these 3 foot high people were first found, many thought they were simply “diseased humans”. That claim has been disproven by extensive study of the skeletons, including a complete computer model of the brain. Since that time, more skeletons have been found.

Perhaps the most interesting part about this discovery is that these “hobbits” co-existed with modern humans! This stuff is right out of a movie or a good book. There was a book I read a while ago about some folks stumbling across a lost group of what I think were surviving neanderthals on a remote island. I can’t remember who wrote it but it was a cool book. I love that stuff.

A male Homo floresiensis returns from the hunt.From the CBS Article:

Now here’s the revolutionary part. Homo sapiens got here 200,000 years ago. And by 30,000 years ago, all the other guys — the Neanderthal man, with his bad posture, and Homo erectus, who was big but not very bright – had disappeared. There was just us.

Now I have a few issues with the CBS article. It followed from a piece on 60 minutes, and as TV shows sometimes do, their factchecking sometimes leaves something to be desired. The CBS article says that homo floresiensis existed some 18,000 years ago. That is actually the estimated age of the first discovered skeleton. As always, Wikipedia has the most accurate facts as they report that the hobbits are thought to have lived as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Local geology suggests that a volcanic eruption on Flores was responsible for the demise of H. floresiensis in the part of the island under study at approximately 12,000 years ago, along with other local fauna, including the dwarf elephant Stegodon.

How about that. This little species of folks lived on this isolated island for what could have been 83,000 years! Sucks that the entire species got wiped out by a volcano though. That’s no way to go.

But wait, did they really die out? Again from Wikipedia:

The discoverers suspect, however, that this species may have survived longer in other parts of Flores to become the source of the Ebu Gogo stories told among the local people. The Ebu Gogo are said to have been small, hairy, language-poor cave dwellers on the scale of H. floresiensis. Widely believed to be present at the time of the Dutch arrival during the 16th century, these strange creatures were apparently last spotted as recently as the late 19th century. There is also Tonga Island folklore that “small people” were living on ‘Ata Island (the southernmost island of the group) at the time of the arrival of the Polynesians.

Similarly, on the island of Sumatra, there are reports of a one-metre tall humanoid, the Orang Pendek, which a number of professional scholars take seriously. Both footprints and hairs have been recovered. Scholars working on the Flores man have noted that the Orang Pendek may also be surviving Flores men still living on Sumatra.

Now we’re into the area of cryptozoology, which is another can of worms entirely. Oh, and about those Ebu Gogo stories? Well, many of the locals there tell a story of humans killing all of the supposedly remaining hobbits years ago. Given the violent nature of man, this should come at no surprise to anyone…

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Responses

  1. […] In a followup to my original post about the early hominid species homo floresiensis, or "hobbit", found on the Island of Flores off of Indonesia, ABC News reports that followup research suggests that the hobbit was capable of creating the tools that have been found around their bones. […]

  2. Doubting the Hobbits

    In a followup to a past story I posted on the discovery of an apparent new species of hominid in the

  3. i love ur post..


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