Thursday, October 28, 2004

Elves, Gnomes and Trolls

The most recent discovery about the origins of human beings concerns the little people who lived on isolated Indonesian islands only 10,000 to 12,000 years ago:

The discovery: The bones of a human dwarf species that was marooned on the remote Indonesian island of Flores between 95,000 and 12,000 years ago while modern humans rapidly developed elsewhere.
The best specimen: One tiny adult female, measuring about 3 feet tall.
The implications: Flores Man smashes the conventional wisdom that modern humans began to crowd out other upright- walking species 160,000 years ago.

Where did they decide that "modern humans rapidly developed elsewhere"? I'm sick of the way we rephraze the evolutionary story into a winner-takes-all myth. In any case, I wanted to talk about the little people, the elves, gnomes and trolls of folk tales. What if these short humans lived in many places, inside caves and in forests? And what if our fairy tales reflect a distant memory of such neighbors?

This is as respectable a theory and has more evidence than many of those presented by some odd strands of evolutionary scientists. To forestall any criticism...