Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is "The Hobbit" the Agogwe of Africa?

An interesting article was published yesterday on The Australian website regarding the origins of the small human-like hominids whose remains were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. You can access the article here but I'll try to sum it up for you.

The article, written by Leigh Dayton, claims there is mounting evidence that the remains of these small hominids, named Homo Floresiensis and popularly dubbed "The Hobbit", were not merely deformed humans but a truly "archaic that appears to have gone its own evolutionary way long before our species emerged," according to Debbie Argue, an Australian National University doctoral student. In addition to this startling claim, Argue and her team, claim evidence suggests that "The Hobbit", a long-armed, small-brained, biped may very well have been the first human-like creature to have walked out of Africa. Scientists generally have believed that a more modern hominid called Homo Erectus was the first to migrate off the African continent. Homo Erectus is thought to be a direct ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. If Argue and her team are correct, then "The Hobbits" of Flores left Africa roughly 100,000 years before Homo Erectus.

Ms. Argue's findings were published in the Journal of Human Evolution and mirror findings published in the Journal of Science in 2007 that concluded the unique wrist structure of Homo Floresiensis suggested it came from a lineage far more ancient than that of Homo Erectus. Argue also said that a population of "Hobbits" lived on Flores as recently as 13,000 years ago, seemingly, unbothered and oblivious to the emergence of modern humans. "I think it is incredible that it lived until so recently. Humans came down from Asia but missed Flores. It's lucky that Flores is hard to get to." said Argue.

I find this story interesting on many levels but found myself thinking of tales of the Agogwe, a small, hair covered, bipedal creature of African legend. Sightings of these small beings continue to be reported from time to time to this day. I wrote a brief post on this subject earlier this year. You can read it here. If Ms. Argue and other scientists are right and "The Hobbit" did originate in Africa and did exist as recently as 13,000 years ago is it not possible that some of these beings stayed in Africa? Assuming this is a possibility, is it not also possible a small population survived in the most remote corners of the Dark Continent and is responsible for the Agogwe legend and sightings? The description of the Agogwe seem to match that of "The Hobbit" quite closely.

Food for thought...

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