In 2004, anthropologists amazed the world by discovering fossils of tiny humanlike creatures that lived on an island in Indonesia at the same time as modern people, as recently as 50,000 years ago. Now, Gregory Forth, a retired professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta, has written a new book—Between Ape and Human—exploring whether these "hobbits" could still be alive. I hope they are. From The Scientist:
Twenty years [previous to the discovery of the remains], when I began ethnographic fieldwork on Flores, I heard tales of humanlike creatures, some still reputedly alive although very rarely seen. In the words of the H. floresiensis discovery team's leader, the late Mike Morwood, last at the University of Wollongong in Australia, descriptions of these hominoids "fitted floresiensis to a T. […]
Our initial instinct, I suspect, is to regard the extant ape-men of Flores as completely imaginary. But, taking seriously what [a local human population called the] Lio people say, I've found no good reason to think so. What they say about the creatures, supplemented by other sorts of evidence, is fully consistent with a surviving hominin species, or one that only went extinct within the last 100 years. Paleontologists and other life scientists would do well to incorporate such Indigenous knowledge into continuing investigations of hominin evolution in Indonesia and elsewhere. For reasons I discuss in the book, no field zoologist is yet looking for living specimens of H. floresiensis or related hominin species. But this does not mean that they cannot be found.
image: This image regards the second version (2.0) of Archaeological Forensic Facial Reconstruction of the individual LB1 of the species Homo floresiensis. It has been released for the open source exhibition "Facce. I molti volti della storia umana" by Cicero Moraes et alii – http://arc-team-open-research.blogspot.it/2015/08/homo-floresiensis.html (CC BY 4.0)