Archive for the ‘history’ Category

A while ago I brought up the topic of a branch of our evolutionary tree called Homo Floresiensis, otherwise known as the ‘hobbit’, which you can read again here.

I was watching the Vlogbrothers on YouTube and low and behold, what is the topic of the week but our little friends homo Floresiensis. The Vlogbrothers are a fraternal duo that make vlogs about various subject matter… more often than not it is intellectually based. These two are aware of their social reach and are very active in trying to, as they say ‘reduce world suck’, or try to make our world a better place. They usually try to achieve this through various charitable efforts or by trying to broaden the knowledge base of their viewers. The brothers, in addition to the channel they share, each have their own channel dedicated to teaching the YouTube public, one is about world history and the other is about science. The clip I’ve linked below is from the science channel, and gives a very brief scientific explanation for Homo Floresiensis.

This is their shared channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers?feature=results_main

This is the science channel: http://www.youtube.com/scishow

This is the history/ biology channel: http://www.youtube.com/crashcourse

And this is their game show channel that features random facts about a topic: http://www.youtube.com/truthorfail

If you haven’t already checked these guys out I suggest that you do, they’re pretty interesting. And you’ll like at least one of their channels, if not all

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In a previous post, I discussed the documentary ‘The Fairy Faith’, which discusses the belief in fairies, you can read about it here. There is a whole slew of people who strongly believe that faeries, ‘the little people’, really and truly exist. That there are tiny beings with a physical presence in the world that are not human.

What if they are not wrong? What if  there actually were, or even are, little people? As many people are aware, it is theorized that modern humanity has evolved over time from various ancestral roots. As you probably are aware, the taxonomical name for humans is ‘Homo Sapiens’ (technically it’s homo sapiens sapiens but you can get away with just one sapiens), and this means knowing man, or thinking man. Here is an interactive evolution chart you can play around with. Click on the bars of colour to learn more about each evolutionary stage or about what was going on at that time. http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-evolution-timeline-interactive

Here’s also a quick visual. Notice all of the questions marks, our origins are anything but set in stone.

During the same time that Homo Sapiens have existed, there were two other genuses that existed, Homo Neanderthalensis and Homo Floresiensis.

Everyone has heard the word Neanderthal (technically pronounced Neandertal) but surprisingly not many people know where the word comes from. If you didn’t, now you do. Something interesting to look at when studying Homo Neanderthalensis is where they lived,  the structure of what their faces may have looked like, and the fact that they were so much shorter than we were. Maybe that’s where we got the idea of dwarves.

On to the point of this post. FINALLY! Homo Floresiensis. This genus of Homo was discovered relatively recently in 2003 in Flores, Indonesia. From what they estimate that she was 106 cm (3 ft 6 in) in height, and weighed about 30 kg (66 lbs). That’s about the size of a very small child. Researchers estimate that Homo Floresiensis lived 95 000 – 17 000  years ago. They are supposedly extinct, but lived at the same time are Homo Sapiens. Here is the Smithsonian page for more information http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-floresiensis

Homo Floresiensis weren’t the size of a butterfly or a fox, but they were extremely small in comparison to their Homo Sapiens counterparts. This species was also found on the island of Flores, which according to one of the documentaries below, is an isolated island and very hard to get to because of ocean currents. Therefore, not many people would run into these people, and if they did, wouldn’t recognize them as human. In an age where the unexplained was explained through religion or myth, it’s easy to see how someone could mistake a very small, semi-human looking person as something from another world.

Another interesting parallel that can be drawn is the fact that many mythologies, and even fantasy stories, have this idea that faeries once used to live on earth, but then left to go to another realm. The most widely recognized fictional story supporting this might be The Lord of the Rings. Yes the hobbits and dwarves stay on earth, but at the end of the series, the elves, the creatures that are inherently magical and immortal, leave earth to go back to their homeland, onto a better place, leaving only stories they will be remembered by. With this kind of mythology in place, interesting conclusions could be made explaining the fact that Homo Floresiensis no longer exists.

Here are two different documentaries chopped up on YouTube for your pleasure.

And finally here is a short 4 minute video on the Smithsonian site http://humanorigins.si.edu/resources/multimedia/videos/hobbits-flores-indonesia

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