A Professor of anthropology has put forward an intriguing theory stating ancient hominin species may still be living in the forests of Flores Island, Indonesia.
In 2013 the discovery of a tiny species known as the Hobbit, named Homo floresiensis caused a sensation among scientists.
Who were these mysterious beings? Were they another species of human, like us but mysteriously different? The small-bodied and small-brained hominin lived on the island until the arrival of modern humans about 50,000 years ago.
It is hard to imagine the Hobbit may still be hiding somewhere in Indonesia, but according to Gregory Forth, an anthropology Professor at the University of Alberta scientists may have overlooked Indigenous knowledge and accounts of an “ape-man” living in the forests of Flores.
In his book, Between Ape and Human: An Anthropologist on the Trail of a Hidden HominoidProfessor Forth presents his research and the results of his investigations whether or not the Hobbit survived and are alive today.
While doing fieldwork on the remote Indonesian island of Flores, Professor Forth came across people talking about half-apelike, half-humanlike creatures that once lived in a cave on the slopes of a nearby volcano. Over the years he continued to record what locals had to say about these mystery hominoids while searching for ways to explain them as imaginary symbols of the wild or other cultural representations.
“My aim in writing the book was to find the best explanation — that is, the most rational and empirically best supported — of Lio accounts of the creatures,” Forth wrote in the piece. “These include reports of sightings by more than 30 eyewitnesses, all of whom I spoke with directly. And I conclude that the best way to explain what they told me is that a non-sapiens hominin has survived on Flores to the present or very recent times.”
“He writes that local folk zoology by the Lio people inhabiting the island contains stories of humans transforming into animals as they move and adapt to new environments, which he likens to a type of Lamarckism, the inheritance of acquired physical characteristics,” IFL Science reports.
The Lio identify these creatures like animals, not having the complex language or technology that humans possess. However, their eerie similarity to humans is noted.
“For the Lio, the ape-man’s appearance as something incompletely human makes the creature anomalous and hence problematic and disturbing,” Forth wrote.
Professor Forth emphasizes Indigenous knowledge in combination with the scientific investigation of hominin evolution holds the answers to whether the Hobbit are still alive or not.
“Our initial instinct, I suspect, is to regard the extant ape-men of Flores as completely imaginary. But, taking seriously what Lio people say, I’ve found no good reason to think so,” he concludes. “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.”