View Full Version : Evidence of Human Dwarf Species Found

Thursday, October 28th, 2004, 07:33 PM
Evidence of Human Dwarf Species Found

By Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer

On an isolated islet of Indonesia, scientists have discovered skeletons of a previously unknown human species tiny, hobbit-sized figures who lived among dwarf elephants and giant lizards as recently as 12,000 years ago when modern humans already thrived worldwide.

Startled experts in human origins called the discovery made public today of a contemporary human species barely 3 feet tall the most important and surprising human find in the past 50 years.

"It is probably the most significant thing that has happened in my professional lifetime," said George Washington University paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood. "It comes out of nowhere."

Found last year in a deep cave on the island of Flores east of Java, the creatures had the smallest brains and shortest bodies of any known human relative of the past 4 million years. Yet, on the time scale of human beginnings, the skeletal remains were so new that the bones had yet to fossilize.

In the past 13 months, a team of Australian and Indonesian researchers led by paleoanthropologist Peter Brown at the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia, has excavated seven partial skeletons of men and women belonging to the small human species from a cave called Liang Bua.

The discovery of Homo floresiensis, or Flores Man, as the extinct species has been named, is powerful evidence of human diversity and the inexorable force of evolution, researchers said. It brings to 11 the number of species sprouting on the human family tree over the past 2 million years.

More important, it demonstrates that selective pressures of adaptation to changing circumstances forced humankind into a new mold even after people had acquired the rudiments of culture and tool use, several experts said.

The evidence of stone tools found near the remains suggests that this diminutive offshoot of humankind commanded fire, cooked, chiseled primitive knives and axes, hunted in groups and demonstrated by implication other basic elements of human behavior despite their small brains, the researchers reported.

All told, it appears that marooned on this jungle island, humanity took a giant step backward to survive.

"It challenges the whole idea of what it is that makes us human," Chris Stringer, director of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, said today at a news conference.


Friday, October 29th, 2004, 07:27 AM
From SF

A race of men whose average height was just under five feet is believed to have inhabited the area between Breslau and Sobotka in Poland as recently as 1,000 years ago. Professor Thilenius of the University of Breslau came to this conclusion in 1902 after examining numerous skeletal remains. He estimated that the little people may have begun to inhabit the area around the first century BC.

The Polish pygmies, if such they were, were not unique in Europe. A Swiss race, described by Professor Kollmann of Basel, averaged from 4 feet 5 1/2 inches to 4 feet 11 inches tall. Remains found at Eguisheim in Lower Alsace were of people whose height ranged from 3 feet 11 inches to just under 5 feet. In all these cases no deformity or abnormality (except for the unusual shortness) was found in the bones, which are therefore taken to represent distinct races of men rather than pathological dwarfism. (Nature, 66:151, June 12, 1902)

Friday, October 29th, 2004, 07:32 AM

Northern Paladin
Monday, November 1st, 2004, 10:47 PM
I think it's far to say they have been extinct as of the 1940s/50s. :biggrin:

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004, 11:17 AM
Do you think there's a possibility for the polish/swiss little people to be the dwarves of mythology?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004, 05:33 PM
I'm not sure if there ever was such ideas on Poles, but maybe for some Germanic-speaking (culturally Germanised like the Prussians?) mountain regions in Central Europe. Coon did mention that mythology in his "The Races of Europe".

"In central Europe, we shall deal with the Alpine race, a reduced Upper Palaeolithic type, which in its pure form is a medium to short-statured, laterally built, brachycephalic, short and broad-faced, short-nosed, relatively large-jawed, human variety. The perfect Alpine looks very much like the Germanic concept of a dwarf, the small men with snub noses and long beards who live in the mountains and forests, and who foster such poor unfortunates as the Princess Snow White."


Do you think there's a possibility for the polish/swiss little people to be the dwarves of mythology?