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I have a feeling we're not in Christchurch anymore, Frodo...
October 27, 2004 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Hobbits found near New Zealand! A new species of human, only 4 feet tall and dating to only 18,000 years ago, has been discovered in Indonesia. It's important enough that Nature has a special issue. Even better? The tiny people hunted tiny elephants. (Journal article here, for those of you with access.)
posted by louigi (19 comments total)

 
very neat, saw it here earlier.

To think, homo sapiens was not alone....
posted by kamylyon at 9:35 PM on October 27, 2004


The myths say Ebu Gogo were alive when Dutch explorers arrived a few hundred years ago and the very last legend featuring the mythical creatures dates to 100 years ago.

This is really cool.

But Henry Gee, senior editor at Nature magazine, goes further. He speculates that species like H.floresiensis might still exist, somewhere in the unexplored tropical forest of Indonesia.

This is even cooler.
posted by hughbot at 9:45 PM on October 27, 2004


Sweet, I can't wait 'til they find trolls!
posted by zekinskia at 9:50 PM on October 27, 2004


THIS IS RADTACULAR. THANK YOU.
posted by The God Complex at 9:54 PM on October 27, 2004


There are similar myths in Sumatra about Orang-pendek. Maybe they'll turn up yet.
posted by homunculus at 10:02 PM on October 27, 2004


"Hobbits found in New Zealand"......

Well, Sauron must have won.

But, I guess we all have Saurons of our age which we must resist....or not.
posted by troutfishing at 12:00 AM on October 28, 2004


sorry
posted by mr.marx at 12:02 AM on October 28, 2004


So.... where does that leave these people?

The Ebu Gogo were about four feet tall, no? Anyway, just pondering.
posted by jokeefe at 12:23 AM on October 28, 2004


Indonesia is near New Zealand in much the same way as Florida is near Alaska.
posted by spazzm at 1:02 AM on October 28, 2004


"The fact that little people feature in the legends of modern Flores islanders suggests we might have to take tales of Leprechauns and Yeti more seriously."

Who's we? The arrogance of the BBC continues...
posted by nthdegx at 2:15 AM on October 28, 2004


Flores is fucking miles away from New Zealand!

The arrogance of the BBC continues...

I bet that wasn't intended to be as hilarious as it reads...
posted by i_cola at 4:10 AM on October 28, 2004


There are rumors and some scant evidence that this hominid species was alive up utill a few hundred years ago, which raises the faint prospect of recovering their DNA. If we could recover their complete DNA, then there is the theoretical possibility of bringing them back at some future date

However, since they had a limited form of intelligence, this would raise a significant moral dilemma. Should we bring a self-aware species back from extinction?
posted by Meridian at 4:11 AM on October 28, 2004


I bet that wasn't intended to be as hilarious as it reads...

Indeed not. What meaning are you taking?
posted by nthdegx at 5:25 AM on October 28, 2004


LB1 shared its island with a golden retriever-sized rat

I'm imagining rats that size. I'm imagining me being 1 metre tall. The resulting mental vision isn't pretty.
posted by orange swan at 5:35 AM on October 28, 2004


jokeefe- I think the difference is that the Baka people and their related tribes are Home sapiens (ie. the same branch of the human family as us) just collectively shorter than "regular" H. sapiens

The difference is that they are putting forth that Homo floresiensis is an entirely different branch, descended from the species H. erectus, which is believed to be more of a cousin to us, having split off from H. egaster* a bit more than a million years ago, while we modern humans arrived on the scene shortly after, descended from H. heidelbergensis .

Considering how foggy our past is (just read some of those inks!), it interests me what evidence lead them to say the remains they found aren't H. sapiens (and just little like the Baka) as I haven't read into all the articles yet, I hate registering for stuff.

This is a really thought-provoking post, thanks!

*H. egaster are our original guys in Africa, while one population wandered off to Asia and became H. erectus. To be clear, modern humans in Asia "share the same differences as H. ergaster with the Asian H. erectus" so all modern humans are considered to be descended from the same species. What they're saying here is H. floresiensis is descended from H. erectus, making them a seperate species from us.
posted by nelleish at 5:51 AM on October 28, 2004


Should we bring a self-aware species back from extinction?

We could help them, and learn from them.
posted by stbalbach at 6:22 AM on October 28, 2004


But Henry Gee ... speculates that species like H.floresiensis might still exist...

This is even cooler.


Indeed! The "little people" made some interesting appearances in 1930s pulp fiction horror as well, thanks to authors like Arthur Machen and Robt E Howard, who would've found grist for the mill in factoids like these:

Even more intriguing is the fact that Flores' inhabitants have incredibly detailed legends about the existence of little people on the island they call Ebu Gogo.

The islanders describe Ebu Gogo as being about one metre tall, hairy and prone to "murmuring" to each other in some form of language. They were also able to repeat what islanders said to them in a parrot-like fashion.

"There have always been myths about small people - Ireland has its Leprechauns and Australia has the Yowies. I suppose there's some feeling that this is an oral history going back to the survival of these small people into recent times," said co-discoverer Peter Brown, an associate professor of archaeology at New England.


"The whole idea that you need a particular brain size to do anything intelligent is completely blown away by this find." Yes, and we already know Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon Man had similar-sized brains that were larger than our own (based on cranial capacity).
posted by Shane at 8:41 AM on October 28, 2004


however, since they had a limited form of intelligence, this would raise a significant moral dilemma. should we bring a self-aware species back from extinction?

WWCPD?

(What Would Captain Picard Do?)
posted by briank at 8:48 AM on October 28, 2004


Don't mess with the Tcho-Tcho!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:39 PM on October 28, 2004


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