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Tony Grist

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Greedy Grannies [Oct. 28th, 2004|10:37 am]
Tony Grist
I'm still reeling a bit from the affair of the misappropriated photographs. It makes me sad. Mainly I want to give the person concerned a big hug and say, "hey, forget about it. We all make mistakes. Now get back to posting."

Otherwise I've been excited by the discovery of a race of little people on the island of Flores in the Indonesian archipelago. OK, the ones they've found are all dead, but they haven't been dead all that long in evolutionary terms- just a few thousand years. Islanders speak of having seen them around as recently as the early 19th century- which means there could still be some of them alive out there in the deep jungle.

The islanders call them ebu gogo- which means something like "greedy grannies". The scientists have nicknamed them "hobbits".

These little guys had brains no bigger than a chimpanzee's but made delicate stone tools. They hunted pygmy elephants and were hunted in their turn by giant rats. And, no, check the calendar- it isn't April 1. This is bona fide, cutting edge science.

We've got used to thinking of ourselves as the only humanoid species around, but here's proof that, until quite recently, there was at least one other living alongside us. The received wisdom is found to be wrong- again! I find this thrilling.

[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2004-10-29 09:44 am (UTC)
Oh! I have just been reminded of something I read about Neanderthals, a while ago. Apparently, current thinking is that Neanderthals and homo sapiens coexisted for a while, before homo sapiens wiped homo neanderthalis out. One theory about the interaction is that it occurred at about the same time that figurative art began to be created in both species. The author of the text I was reading (which I cannot name for the life of me) speculated that this was because, for both species, encountering another hominid was such a shock to their identity that they both immediately started producing images of themselves, so as to explore what exactly their identity was in the face of this other being so like themselves. A beautiful idea, though I'm not sure if it's accepted science.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-29 10:45 am (UTC)
It's a lovely idea.

I've been intrigued by the discovery of a boy's bones in Portugal who looks like he's a mix of Homo Sapiens and Neanderthal. It would be nice to think our two species inter-bred.
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