Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Hobbit and Our Self-Image

The Loom has a discussion on Homo floresiensis, AKA the Hobbit. One of the more interesting aspects of this find is how people have reacted. Some scientists are apparently very resistant to the shrinking human theory for the following reasons: 1) An animal with a brain as small as a chimpanzee could not deal with the range of tools that have been found on the site. 2) Brains of humans are like the speed of the cheetah. They are too valuable for survival reasons to be anything but optimal (as a species), and natural selection could never cause them to shrink.

Apparently even anthropologists can allow themselves to believe that evolution doesn’t happen to us.

The author, Carl Zimmer, tries to refute this line of thinking by bringing up a counter-example.

A better example was written twenty years ago by Kurt Vonnegut as a thought experiment. The book, called Galapagos: A Novel, places a remnant of the human race in an untenable situation, where de-evolution is the only way out. There are very satisfying parallels to the Hobbit story.

6/18/2005 11:56 PM

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3 Comments:

At Sunday, June 19, 2005 4:45:00 PM, Blogger blackmaled said...

They had a story about this on 60 minutes a few months ago. Found some remains on some island in the east. They say theres a possibility that they may still exist, and the natives of the island claimed to remember seeing these small people.

 
At Sunday, June 19, 2005 8:08:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

It's fun to think about. It would be really great if there were some left, but I kind of doubt it. As to the legends, everybody has legends about the little people. Maybe they were a lot more widespread than we imagine and maybe they didn't really evolve on that one island. At any rate, there are a lot of tropical islands that could be checked out before we give up on the idea. I guess Ireland is an island too. Are leprechauns supposed to be hairy?

 
At Wednesday, June 22, 2005 7:53:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

check out the story of the pygmie Mastodons that lived above the arctic circle, or the extinc flightless birds of Hawaii. There is fossil evidence for devolution

 

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