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Kempo Kid
10-28-2004, 07:34 AM
I've often wondered if the dwarves, elves, etc. of folklore are actually a racial memory of our past, or perhaps just tales handed down and handed down, generation after generation. And perhaps they're less fantasy than we think, hm? ;)

story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=753&e=1&u=/ap/20041028/ap_on_sc/dwarf_cavewoman (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=753&e=1&u=/ap/20041028/ap_on_sc/dwarf_cavewoman)

I hope this link comes through. Ya gotta read this article!

Rosie Cotton lives!

Kempo Kid
10-28-2004, 07:38 AM
And

www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200410/s1229377.htm (http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200410/s1229377.htm)

veingloree
10-28-2004, 03:23 PM
hmmm. The hobbit link seems a little spurious to me. Afterall we have modern day small people who are well short of 3 feet.

HConn
10-28-2004, 06:29 PM
These aren't small people. They're a different race of human-like primate

veingloree
10-28-2004, 07:00 PM
I get that. But why would little people myths trace to an indonesian hominid rather than dwarfism, or... um, imagination. Thing of little people and big people is a fairly modest leap of imagination without resorting to 'race memory' explanations.

Ravenlocks01
10-29-2004, 08:36 AM
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."



Interesting articles. I have to admit I find the idea of miniature elephants, huge rats, and local dragons at least as fascinating as the discovery of the "hobbit" race.

:p

Kempo Kid
10-29-2004, 11:49 AM
"Race memory" wasn't my explanation. It was an idea used to provoke thought. I think this whole thing is fascinating. And just because we've only found small-person fossils in Indonesia doesn't mean that there weren't other small hominid races in other parts of the world.

And this fossil was only 18,000 years old. Perhaps there are other similar fossils that are more recent, but we just haven't found them yet.

I often wished that I could have become a paleontologist.

Pthom
10-29-2004, 12:12 PM
And just because we've only found small-person fossils in Indonesia doesn't mean that there weren't other small hominid races in other parts of the world.True. However, the fact that it is an island in Indonesia where the new hominids were found, "marooned" according to the "Nature" articles (found by following the links you provide), makes a good case that such beings are likely not to be found in areas where migration was more probable.

What is interesting to me, is that this member of the genus Homo existed simultaneously with our own. As the article by "Nature" says, the discovery gives rise to a "more complex" evolution than previously thought.

Extrapolate.

Imagine humans have colonized the Solar system, living on Mars, the asteroids, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gs2.cgi?path=../multimedia/images/titan/images/PIA06986.jpg&type=image). Imagine further that something happens, a disaster perhaps, either physical or economical, that brings a halt to communication between the disparate pockets of humanity. And, assume that those in these pockets survive--for millenia--before they regain the ability to once again make contact with one another.

What evolutionary changes might take place over the period while they are separated?

Writing Again
10-31-2004, 08:03 AM
As I understand it the Japanese were isolated for two thousand years. While their culture became distinct from any other in the world they do not show any signs of having mutated into hobbits.

I believe the Australian natives were isolated for a long time, they also developed distinct cultures (they were also isolated from each other) but they did not mutate into marsupials.

As for dwarfism or nanism if you prefer; their parents are normal sized and so are their children: They are not a race. This fact was as well known to the ancients as it is to us. One king did decide to gather every small person he could find into one village in the hope of creating a race of dwarfs. His plan did not work, as all the common, everyday people could have told him had he asked.

Rumors have it that the first explorers to the British Isles found not only Druids but a blue skinned race of people.

I don't see why it would be impossible for a race of small people to have lived, say in Ireland, alongside homosapiens. It might explain why there are so many more tales of wee folk there than there seem to be in the rest of the world.

Is this needed as an explanation?

No explanation is ever needed for anything. Either something is or it is not. Either it can be proven or it cannot. Explanations are just so much garbage thrown to the wind.

But extrapolation, a fancy way of saying "exploring the possibilities" is always valid, always interesting, and is a must for the writer if they are going to have a creative mind.

Nyki27
11-01-2004, 07:54 AM
Neanderthals were significantly smaller than Homo Sapiens (since the colder climate favoured the more compact body) and it's possible that memories of that encounter may have something to do with legends of small people. Although it's assumed that Neanderthals died out 30-40 thousand years ago, it's not impossible that small pockets may have survived.

While Alexander the Great's fleet was sailing back from the Indus to the Persian Gulf, they found a very isolated race living on the coast who they called the "Fish Eaters". From the description left in the chronicles, there has been some speculation that these may have been a surviving tribe of Neanderthals. If they survived there into historical times, they could have survived elsewhere.

Yeshanu
11-02-2004, 01:40 AM
Writing Again, two thousand years is a drop in the bucket as far as time is concerned. The evolutionary progress of humans has happened over tens of thousands of years.

The "blue-skinned race" that early explorers to the British Isles found could well have been "mere" human beings -- wearing woad, a blue dye used on skin to frighten enemies. At least that's my theory...

As for parallel evolution, it only makes sense. Unfortunately, we humans are a bloodthirsty lot and tend to be bad for any other species we come into contact with. :cry So maybe there did used to be lots of elves and dwarves and hobbits, and now there are only a few of us left... :b

I really like Pthom's question. Any takers?

Pthom
11-02-2004, 03:36 AM
:grin

Not an answer to my query, but Greg Bear dealt with evolution in Darwin's Radio (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0345435249/102-4562332-0036142?v=glance) and Darwin's Children (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0345448359/qid=1099339463/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-4562332-0036142?v=glance&s=books). Good stories both and he deals briefly with the fear of two intelligent species living together ... but the question "then what?" is left open.

Other considerations: what conditions, situations, events, would accelerate evolution (thinking specifically of human evolution)? Retard it? In Bear's stories, the "new" species is only slightly different from its predecessor...outwardly. Yet he made them different enough so that the evolved humans were instantly recognizable. But what if he hadn't done? I doubt that homo neanderthal and homo sapiens LOOKED that much different to one another. As Yeshanu says, evolution takes a long time. And during the time when the new species surplants the previous one, they live together. Sometimes the previous species doesn't die out. In Spider and Jeanne Robinson's Stardance series, the "evolved" humans leave--at least they no longer occupy the environs of "normal" humans.

Imagine the scenario where the new species is different, but not necessarily superior, stronger, smarter. Imagine further that in order for the new species to survive, the predecessors must survive.

:)

HollyB
11-02-2004, 05:10 AM
Interesting discussion!

Robert J. Sawyer's Neanderthal trilogy explores the coexistence of two intelligent species -- a window is opened to a parallel universe in which Neanderthals became the predominant species, and Homo sapiens died out. They're left to figure each other out, and in my opinion, the humans come off looking like the inferior species. (And the Neanderthals and humans do look quite different!)

According to Ernst Mayr (an evolutionary biologist), it is clear that mankind will never branch into seperate species. "Today there is far too much contact among all human populations for any kind of long-term isolation that might lead to speciation."

So I think Pthom's first challenge would give the most apt method of human speciation: geographic isolation on other planets. You would postulate a small population size, with its corresponding interbreeding, would lead to the selection of different genotypes. I would imagine that these genotypes wouldn't be selected based on the environment - because humans control the environment to suit them, not the other way around. These genotypes would be based on whatever recessive genes were present in the founding population.

I could go on and on, but I sense people nodding off already... As you can see I've studied far too much genetics!

Pthom
11-02-2004, 07:01 AM
...geographic isolation .... small population size, with its corresponding interbreeding .... these genotypes wouldn't be selected based on the environment - because humans control the environment to suit them, not the other way around. These genotypes would be based on whatever recessive genes were present in the founding population.Now, take the above and add in that the isolated humans have advanced skill at genetic manipulation . . .

Nyki27
11-02-2004, 08:27 AM
In relation to the point about how different Neanderthals looked from Homo Sapiens, there was a programme on UK TV a week or so ago where the presenter was made up by specialist film make-up artists as the current estimate of what Neanderthal looked like. Then he put on contemporary clothes and you saw him walking down a crowded London street, and barely getting a glance from anyone.

Of course, the one major difference with a real Nenderthal would be the small size.

Pthom
11-02-2004, 08:42 AM
... and smelly.

Ravenlocks01
11-02-2004, 11:29 AM
Back in Neanderthal days I don't imagine any species smelled too fresh.

Writing Again
11-02-2004, 08:48 PM
Writing Again, two thousand years is a drop in the bucket as far as time is concerned. The evolutionary progress of humans has happened over tens of thousands of years.



Maybe... (http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc0.asp?docid=1G1:20074812&refid=ink_puballmags&skeyword=&teaser=)

HollyB
11-02-2004, 09:54 PM
Now, take the above and add in that the isolated humans have advanced skill at genetic manipulation . . .

In Ursula Le Guin's book The Left Hand of Darkness, the Genethians are unisex, able to turn into men or women during each mating cycle. Le Guin suggests that 'the Colonizers' planted this species on Gethen as a human genetic experiment...

So, if Gethen was just an experiment, if you could alter humans willfully, how would a human species try to make themselves "improved?" Greg Bear (the Darwin's Radio books referred to by Pthom above) suggests that improved communication would be a logical human improvement.

What about more intelligent (a species of Einsteins)? Or more artistically gifted (a species of Mozarts)? Or endowed with senses other than the regular five (in my novel mss the people are able to detect human pheromones). So many interesting possibilities...

HollyB
11-02-2004, 09:57 PM
Imagine further that in order for the new species to survive, the predecessors must survive.


So they have some sort of symbiotic relationship?

Writing Again
11-03-2004, 09:15 AM
When you stop to think:

I read somewhere that human DNA was spliced into rice to create a better crop...

If one asks themselves:

Could such a thing occur by accident?

If science takes its normal path of complexity to simplicity:

Could Jr. someday cook up an angel or a demon in his mother's kitchen while his parents are next door playing a game of bridge the way his grand daddy cooked meth?

Or maybe sanity suggests we should not think...

But what the hell, we are writers, we can't help ourselves.

Kempo Kid
11-05-2004, 12:39 PM
Are we then cannibals if we eat rice?

Pthom
11-05-2004, 02:42 PM
maybe so, maybe so...I never knew a rice I didn't like. :grin

Terra Aeterna
11-06-2004, 11:29 AM
Nyki27 said
Neanderthals were significantly smaller than Homo Sapiens

Neanderthals averaged a height of about 5'6" in the men and they had a heavier bone structure as well as a significantly larger cranium. I don't think you can make a good argument for Neanderthals being significantly smaller than Homo Sapiens, especially early Homo Sapiens.

Today they might look a little short, but in their own time they'd have been about the same size as their Homo Sapien neighbors. And there's still Homo Sapien men in the 5'6" range today; they might be tempted to wear shoes with lifts, but no one would mistake them for hobbits or midgets (unless, like Elijah Wood, they played one in the movies :grin )

Neanderthals would probably look like body builders with funny looking heads.

Writing Again
11-07-2004, 05:00 PM
Neanderthals would probably look like body builders with funny looking heads.

I know a guy at work fits that description.