Apr 21, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Scientist Claims Homo Floresiensis is Still Living on the Island of Flores

On the Indonesian island of Flores, archeologists have uncovered a number of remains – including an entire skeleton and some partial ones – of a diminutive species of ancient humans that have been identified as the species Homo floresiensis by scientists and “hobbits” by the media. Their time of existence on Flores has been estimated to begin around 190,000 years ago and end in extinction around 50,000 years ago – right about the time Homo sapiens showed up on the island. While the debate rages on over whether modern humans caused the demise of H. floresiensis, one scientist thinks it’s all for naught – he believes H. floresiensis is still alive … and he has eyewitness accounts by local islanders to prove it.

“Unlike other books concerned with hominin evolution, the focus of my book is not on fossils but on a local human population called the Lio and what these people say about an animal (as they describe it) that is remarkably like a human but is not human—something I can only call an ape-man.”

The skull of a Homo floresiensis

Gregory Forth is the author of the upcoming book, “Between Ape and Human: An Anthropologist on the Trail of a Hidden Hominoid.” In The Scientist, he both explains how he came to the conclusion that beings – possibly of the species H. floresiensis – live on Flores and offers an eyewitness testimony in the form of an excerpt from the book. Forth refers to the beings as an ape-man or “non-sapiens hominin” based on the accounts of the Lio people, who think it’s an animal that is like a human but not human.

“Found lying facedown, the creature’s head was “almost the same as a human’s” and the body was covered in fairly sparse, light-grayish hair. The face resembled a monkey’s, and the nose was “like a skull,” which she explained to mean covered in scabs or mange.”

That account, in the excerpt from Forths’s book,  came from young woman named Wea of the Lio people. She described a being to Forth she claimed was found a local named Tegu, but Forth was unable to determine if Wea had actually seen it herself. For verification, Forth was able to track down Tegu, who actually earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Bandung in Jawa. Tegu had a different account.

“What Tegu found there, lying in undergrowth and not far from a large tree, was the corpse of what appeared to be an elderly female hominoid with a “human face,” whose naked body was covered in short, fine hair.”

In his separate article Forth notes that the Lio people are primarily non-literate and technologically simple – but they’re not primitive. However, they have a rich folklore involving stories of humans transforming permanently into animals of other kinds. Interestingly, they put humans before these beings on the world timeline – but humans are still ahead of them on the evolutionary scale.

“Tegu did not identify the creature as a “lai ho’a” (ape-man) but as an “earth spirit” (tana watu)—contrary to the usual representation of these beings as entirely supernatural and invisible. Lai ho’a, he said, were “bad things,” whereas he expressed sympathy for the elderly hominoid.”

The book excerpt gives an excellent description from Tegu of the dead being he claimed to have found and subsequently buried. The size of the corpse and many of the details would suggest it was a small human-like being, but others were vague. Also, Tegu mention that women, including his wife, were fearful of the corpse. Finally, Forth points out that other researchers, and the public in general, look at people like the Lio as primitive and discount their accounts of strange beings as folkloric rather than real.

If Homo floresiensis is still alive, what about the Neanderthals? 

“Our initial instinct, I suspect, is to regard the extant ape-men of Flores as completely imaginary. But, taking seriously what Lio people say, I’ve found no good reason to think so. What they say about the creatures, supplemented by other sorts of evidence, is fully consistent with a surviving hominin species, or one that only went extinct within the last 100 years.”

Forth believes a search for living or recently deceased Homo floresiensis should commence based on the stories of the Lio. Will it? That remains to be seen.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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