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

Homo floresiensis human hobbit ancestor living in Indonesia

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.

Skull Fragment of Missing Human Species Found in Israel

close up of human skull against black background

Archeologists in Israel have just made a groundbreaking discovery; could the skull they found belong to a new type of human and our oldest relative?

In recent years, the regular discovery of new species of archaic humans has been complicating the human family tree. The finding in Israel is the latest to fill in missing information on this ever-changing timeline of human evolution.

Andrew Collins is an ancient history researcher who has written extensively on the topic. “One of the most important discoveries in anthropology in recent years has been the finding of fragments of a human skull at a place named Nesher Ramla in Israel. It’s an open-air site that was functional between about 120,000-140,000 years ago,” Collins said.

“And the archeologists who have been working there have discovered, not only sophisticated stone tools, but they found fragments of this skull, and this skull is unique because it has elements of an archaic human that look similar to a Neanderthal, but also it has human elements.”

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