Human ‘Hobbit’ Ancestor May Still Be Alive in Indonesian Jungles

Human ‘Hobbit’ Ancestor May Still Be Alive in Indonesian Jungles

Could an ancient human species still be alive deep in the forests of Indonesia? An award-winning anthropologist thinks that might be the case.

On the Indonesian island of Flores, some locals tell tales of an animal that is like a human but is not human. Some say they are extinct, others claim to have seen them with their own eyes. Anthropologist Gregory Forth, who lived with and studied the people of the island for decades, calls this creature the “Apeman.” 

For years it was an interesting story, but as many anthropologists will tell you, stories like this are often allegory or a way to explain the natural world. But in 2004, the anthropological world was shaken when the “hobbit” skeleton was found. This was a tiny species of hominin. A rebuilt skeleton stands at just 3’7,” but apparently lived at the same time as early modern humans.

The tale of the relationship between oral histories and the fossils, dubbed Homo floresiensis, is the subject of Forth’s new book, “Between Ape and Human.”

Forth, now retired, was a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta for more than three decades. He first heard of the “Apeman” from the “Lio” people of Flores in the 1980s.

But what about this story sounded like it might be true?  

“It’s the way that people were describing them as animals, as a kind of animal — not human beings by the way, the distinction is very important for them as it is for most people. But at the same time they’re beings that walked erect unlike any other animal, and otherwise looked humanlike, although they were very small (or they are very small), and somewhat hairier.”  

Do the locals believe these so-called Apemen are animals what else did they say about these creatures?

“The Apemen are credited by some people with supernatural powers, but then so are a bunch of other animals on the island, including very rare turtles and crabs, so too are monkeys, local monkeys, and I could go on and extend the list. So just to say that some species have supernatural powers doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist as a physical, natural being.

Is it possible this is the relative of an ancient species of human and are they still alive on the island?

“I say it’s possible. The best explanation in terms of the evidence I have, and in terms of reason, logic, and so on, is that they are descendants of Homo sapiens, hominin. Whether anyone wants to believe that or not, of course, is up to them. This is the Sherlock Holmes method — you go through all the possible explanations, and you exclude them one by one, in relation to the evidence, and the one that remains has got to be correct no matter how incredible or improbable it may seem. Now, you could criticize that methodology a little bit, but it is actually the way a lot of science works as well.”

If this is true and there is an ancient hominin still living, hidden away from humans for thousands of years, then could there be other creatures hidden around the world?

“Well, indeed there could be other creatures. I mean, I say that the most likely explanation for this thing is that it is an actual hominin that they’re seeing or they saw some years ago. It’s not necessarily floresiensis, but there is evidence for hominins, not sapiens obviously, but hominins going back a million or over a million years. Now, that would give whatever was there, however it got there, that would give it a lot of time to evolve and to branch into a number of different lines. Floresiensis may be just one of those; there may be other things out there whether under the ground or in the jungles yet to be discovered.”

Forth encourages any skeptics to read the stories from the eyewitnesses and decide for themselves.

“Between Ape and Human” is available from all major booksellers.

Explore the Mystery of Native American Creation Myths

Explore the Mystery of Native American Creation Myths

Where did we come from?

Ideas and theories about the beginning of the world run the gamut, with different cultures, groups, and religions offering creation stories or myths, and explanations of how different parts of the world came to be.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating of these groups is the Native Americans. Across the board, Native American cultures offer many creation legends, many of which involve sacred caves or underground tunnels.

As we explore the stories offered by Native Americans as to the beginnings of everything, we also wind deeper into the Earth itself.

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