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31.10.04

One More Hobbit Note

The Times may have chosen a skull photo for its Homo floresiensis story, but amazingly it uses "Man" to refer to humanity.

The article goes on to speculate a lot about whether Homo floresiensis and other as-yet-undiscovered small human species could be the inspiration for legends about elves, dwarves, leprechauns, etc. I'm skeptical of that, except in certain very local situations. For starters, I'm skeptical that there were too many diminutive human species in other parts of the world, but nearly every culture has stories about little people. Furthermore, Occam's razor suggests that the variation in heights among Homo sapiens should be plenty to inspire the idea of even smaller creatures (not to mention that it's beyond the realm of possibility to find a species of Homo the size of a brownie or leprechaun, so we know there's at least some extrapolation going on in myth-making). To really have a basis for saying that Homo floresiensis was the inspiration for "little people" legends, there would have to be more parallels between the two than just their stature and the fact that they live in remote places.

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