Tech UPTechnologyA 'hobbit' human ancestor could be hiding in Indonesia

A 'hobbit' human ancestor could be hiding in Indonesia


A great anthropological find

In 2003, the discovery made in the Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores (Indonesia) shook long-held beliefs about human evolution. The partial female skeleton of a humanoid creature measuring less than 4 feet tall (big feet and possessing a brain one-third the size of a normal human) was found, quickly dubbed the “Hobbit,” after one of the most endearing creations of JRR Tolkien.

This little humanoid was given the scientific name of Homo floresiensis and could have co-existed with modern man, Homo sapiens . Skeletal features related to chewing and walking clearly linked them to our own genus, Homo (meaning human), and species, sapiens (meaning wise). The news covered the media around the world.


Hidden in the humid jungle

Almost 20 years later, rumors are growing that these hobbits did not become extinct and continued to live in the remote mountains of eastern Indonesia for tens of thousands of years.

Now British anthropology professor and former Oxford academic Gregory Forth has detailed his investigations into the mystery of these ‘human hobbits’. Forth reveals that there have been eyewitness sightings by over 30 people, arguing that hobbits, whether direct descendants or a ‘cousin’ species, could still be alive today hiding under the steamy jungle.

The book “ Between Ape and Human” also considers general issues, including how natural scientists construct knowledge about living things. Indeed, an existing problem is the relative value of various sources of information about the creatures, including animals not documented or yet to be documented in the scientific literature, and especially information provided by traditionally illiterate and technologically simple communities such as the Lio, a ancient tribe that lives in isolated huts in Flores, thousands of meters above sea level.

Forth describes an interview with a man who says he disposed of the carcass of a creature that could not have been an ape, but could not have been human either , with straight light-colored hair on the body, a well-shaped nose, and a piece of a tail. Over the years, Forth collected 30 eyewitness accounts of similar creatures that he said match the description of H. floresiensis.

Is it real or an extension of folklore?

Gregory Forth’s statement about these ‘human hobbits’ has met skeptical experts , to be sure, but many would agree with his assessment of the field of anthropology.

Homo sapiens evolved about 200,000 years ago and is known to have co-existed for some of that time with other ‘ homo ‘ species. H. neanderthalensis , which disappeared about 30,000 years ago, was believed to be the ‘youngest’ homo species relative to modern man. But the bones of 13 ‘hobbits’ have been unearthed in Liang Bua Cave, the only site where such bones have been found, and they date the species probably evolved between 190,000 and 50,000 years ago, although the evolutionary picture is unclear . .

For Forth, the existence of the ‘modern hobbit’ is entirely “possible”.

Referencia: Between Ape and Human. An Anthropologist on the Trail of a Hidden Hominoid. Pegasus Books. May 2022. Gregory Forth

Charles Oxnard, Peter J. Obendorf, Ben J. Kefford. Post-Cranial Skeletons of Hypothyroid Cretins Show a Similar Anatomical Mosaic as Homo floresiensis. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (9): e13018 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013018

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