Monday, January 17, 2011

"Hobbits" revisisted

This concept of the "hobbit" humanoid (see my post from a few days back) has intrigued me and I have been digging around a bit more on the subject.  Among the anecdotal evidence (flimsy, I know) for the ebu gogo on Flores Island is an account from Dutch sailors who visited the area back in the day.  Henry Gee of the journal Nature spoke of said accounts back in 2004 in the wake of the fossil finds on the island and called for a re-examination of their veracity in light of the discoveries.  

The Dutch sailors reported that the people of Flores spoke often of the ebu gogo; hairy, humanoid beings with long arms who stood barely one meter tall.  The natives even said that the ebu gogo would abduct children during the night.  Shades of modern day "alien abduction," perhaps?  Enough ended up being enough and the indigenous population of the island tricked the ebu gogo into accepting clothes made of dry palm fiber.  The ebu gogo then took these dried plant garments back to their cave in the woods...where the natives commenced to toss a torch inside, burning the ebu gogo alive.  Island folklore states that a sole surviving pair of ebu gogo escaped into the jungle foliage and that their descendants live on to this day, harassing children from time to time.

As mentioned in my previous post, Flores is not unique in that region of the world for having "small, wild men" folklore, as illustrated by the Nittaewo of Sri Lanka.  What I neglected to mention was Orang Pendek.
Orang Pendek is allegedly a bipedal primate sighted on the island of Sumatra.  Though smaller and less hearty in stature, it is thought to be not all that dissimilar from either the Yeti or Sasquatch.  Again we have Dutch settlers to thank for the first Westernized accounts of this creature with two explorers even claiming first-hand sightings back in the 1920s.  Reports continue to this day.  Anomalous hair strands, thought to be shed from orang pendek, have been sent for DNA testing.  Only human DNA was found in the sample, but that is likely due from contamination by the hair's original handlers.

Orang Pendek.  Nittaewo.  Ebu gogo.  In the past, I would have said "maybe they're cryptids, likely they are folklore."  But the discovery of the "hobbit" fossils bring everything into question.  Much is dependent upon the results of the molar DNA testing I mentioned in the first post, but even if the hobbits prove to be dwarf humans and not another species, the fossil find could still go a long way as to explaining the origins of said folklore.  
Big question would be, do they still survive today?

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