More cryptic hominid stuff.
In recent years, remains of tiny humans have been excavated on the island of Palau. The remains are from 1,400-2,900 years ago. These people were 3-4 feet tall!
Curiously, the researchers decided that these were Homo sapiens, possibly because they have some features that were unique to Homo sapiens. Nevertheless, some of their features are outside of the human range, and that included more than height. They shared some features with Flores Man of Indonesia. The researchers suggested that all of these features are simply a result of insular dwarfism, a trend on islands in which large things tend to get smaller in some cases. They suggested that Flores Man also is a Homo sapiens with insular dwarfism.
However, the Palau Pygmy brains are so small that they are outside the range of modern Homo sapiens. In fact, the brain is the size as would be expected in a Homo Erectus. Their total weight was 69-92 pounds!
At the moment, it is unclear if these Palau Pygmies are Homo sapiens or not. They may well be, for they are much more human than Flores Man.
However, I do not think that Flores Man is a Homo sapiens with insular dwarfism. For instance, reports of the Ebu Gogo in the modern era (almost certainly Flores Man living until the late 1800′s) stated that they were not very intelligent, they did not seem to have full human language (they were described as language-poor), and one of the reasons they were kidnapping human children was they hoped to learn how to make fire from them. From that description, it does not seem that they were fully human (Homo sapiens). Since Flores Man is not fully human, the legends back up the theory.
DNA tests on the Palau pygmies has not been done. It will years to chip the skeletons of the stone walls of the cave. There has been no DNA testing on Flores Man either. I believe that they were not able to get any, but I could be wrong. For some reason, you can’t always get DNA out of a skeleton for unknown reasons.
All of this brings us to the point of what exactly is a human being or Homo sapiens anyway? If these tiny pygmies are Homo sapiens, it really stretches the definition of the species.
A while back, Aborigines were said to be non-Homo sapiens. This has been abandoned now probably in light of PC, but Aborigines are very strange.
There is an old skull from Kow Swamp, Australia that looks like Homo Erectus. It has been called Homo sapiens, but I am not sure why they did that. It’s clearly an ancestor of the Aborigines. Modern Aborigines of today are said to retain Erectus features in their skulls. Probably they bred in with some Erectus types somewhere along the way. In particular, Aborigines have a brow ridge, a primitive feature in which there is a bone over one’s eyebrows that projects outward.
The old line was that we are all Homo sapiens because we can all breed. That’s not so good. We bred with Denisova and Neandertal too, but they are separate species.
It’s actually fairly common for different species to breed and even produce viable young. This brings us back to the “species question” in science. There is a longstanding debate in science over what is a species and what is not. No widely accepted definition has yet been agreed on, and the debate rages on. It’s similar to the “language question” debate in linguistics, except it’s a lot less stupid (Linguistics incredibly says that there is no such thing as a language in a linguistic sense and all such distinctions are political)
There are reports of “little people” all down through time. Much of it may well be mythology, but some of it is based on truth. If they are found, and some of them will be, some of them will turn out to be relict hominids like Flores Man, and others will turn out to be just some really freaky Homo sapiens.
- Berger LR, Churchill SE, De Klerk B, Quinn RL. 2008. Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia. PLoS ONE 3(3): e1780.