Journal Nature

The Little People Are Real

Flores FeetAll my life the lure of the old stories about dwarves and giants and elves and ogres always held a unreasoning fascination that seemed all out of proportion to the experience of daily life. Just what is it that draws so many people to love these old stories? It is almost as if some genetic memory from a world far more ecologically diverse and integrated than our world today stimulates us to feel fascination when we stir up pictures of these mythical relatives. And every culture has them; all of us talk about the Little People and the Magical Folk.

So it is with great delight (so much so that I jumped up from my chair in front of the computer and cried out “FANTASTIC!” when I came across the news of the discovery in Indonesia of Homo florensiensis today (Other sites include The Panda’s Thumb, National Geographic, and Nature). Here is a three foot tall homonid who lived as recently as 13,000 years ago, during which they probably had interaction with Homo sapiens.

Flores Sapiens

It is like discovering that when children tell you that they saw a little man under the bed they were telling the truth. So the dwarves and giants of the old stories really did exist. Now we just have to find the dragons.

With all the hyper activity and meaninglessness of the American election campaign; with the ongoing suffering of the people in Niigata (area north of Tokyo) subject now to a week of unrelenting earthquakes (over 100 quakes measuring at least 5 on the Richter Scale, and 5 quakes measuring at least 6) and more than 80,000 people evacuated, half of whom are living on the streets with snow in the forecast; and with, until last weekend, more than four months of unbelievable amounts of torrential rains and monster typhoons, this little bit of magical news is a welcome change. It’s good to see that there is still at least a bit of mystery and wonder in the world. I hope this discovery leads to more unexpected stepping stones in our understanding of ourselves and our world.

Flores reconstruction