More on the Sulawesi Tool Makers

 Anthropology, Asia, Human Ancestors  Comments Off on More on the Sulawesi Tool Makers
Feb 102017

Signs of a tsunami? Ancient tools from the island of Sulawesi show that human ancestors island-hopped around Southeast Asia, perhaps illuminating the origins of the ancient tiny humans called hobbits. – Photo by Erick Setiabudi

A new article published in Nature details the latest developments in the study of mysterious stone tools discovered on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.  The makers of these tools remains unknown and is pondered in a previous blog article on this site.  

This discovery is pertinent to the study of bigfoot for several reasons.  First of all, at least three species of unknown hominoids are reported throughout Indonesia.  One fits the description of the orang pendek on Sumatra which can be speculated to be a type of bipedal orangutan.  The other is more manlike, but smaller, and is referred to as the ebu gogo on the island of Flores.  This form is probably a relict form of Homo floresiensis.  The last of the three commonly reported forms fits the description of the North American sasquatch, and is in fact present in the folklore of Sulawesi where the tools were found.  

While it is unlikely that the larger, sasquatch-like form is responsible for these tools, the study of pre-modern humans and our relatives should always be encouraged.  It is within this framework that the sasquatch will eventually be recognized by science.  Though paleoanthropology is a newer science, it will certainly help provide a foundation for the subject of bigfoot and other unknown hominoids in the near future.  

For interested readers, the best book (by far) to detail the possible unknown hominoids found in the folklore of Southeast Asia is Images of the Wildman in Southeast Asia: An Anthropological Perspective by Gregory Forth.  It is detailed, scientific, and open-minded while remaining skeptical.  For any serious student of wildmen in that part of the world, I cannot recommend this book enough.  


Archaeologists dug deep in Sulawesi, excavating 10 meters down. Photo by Dida Yurnaldi

Ancient tools may shed light on the mysterious ‘hobbit’

The “hobbit” had neighbors. Back in 2004, researchers announced the discovery of this tiny, ancient human, which apparently hunted dwarf elephants with stone tools on the Indonesian island of Flores 18,000 years ago. Its discoverers called the 1-meter-tall creature Homo floresiensis, but skeptics wondered whether it was just a stunted modern human. In the years since, researchers have debunked many of the “sick hobbit” hypotheses. Yet scientists have continued to wonder where the species came from.

Now, an international team originally led by the hobbit discoverer reports stone tools, dated to 118,000 to 194,000 years ago, from another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, likely made by another archaic human—or possibly by other hobbits. “It shows that on another island we have evidence of a second archaic early human,” says paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, who was not involved with the work. The discovery makes the original hobbit claim appear more plausible, he says, by suggesting that human ancestors may have island-hopped more often than had been thought.

After international debate over the hobbit’s origins, co-discoverer Michael Morwood—then an archaeologist at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia—set out to search other islands from which the tiny humans may have come. Java—more than 800 kilometers west of Flores but with a chain of islands in between—was already known to be the ancient home of the human ancestor H. erectus, a globe-trotting species that dates as far back as 1.7 million years ago. But Morwood instead set out for Sulawesi, 400 kilometers to the north, because powerful ocean currents sweep southward from this island toward Flores. Researchers had already found some simple stone tools on Sulawesi, but they couldn’t date the artifacts because they were found on the ground rather than buried with datable minerals.  

Click this link to read the rest of the article.

Oct 292015

Syntypes of Golden-crowned langurs (Presbytis johnaspinalli). Nardelli writes that Presbytis johnaspinalli is “essentially distinguished from other known Presbytis on the basis of pelage colour and morphology; orange golden-yellowish hair around the face, on the chest and abdomen; black on upper parts, limbs and tail.” Courtesy of Nardelli 2015.


New photographs from an Indonesian bird market might have exposed the existence of a previously-unknown species of monkey.  It is rare that new species of primates are discovered at all, anywhere in the world.  In this case, though, the species might be proven real just by a photograph, not the collection of a type specimen, which is a dead animal to study and dissect.  Of course, this is what most compassionate people want for the sasquatch as well.

There is a very good reason a type specimen is needed to prove a species exists, and that is to remove all doubt about its reality.  Of course, sometimes the skeleton or a pelt of an unknown creature seems too strange to be accepted at first by the scientific establishment, as in the case of the platypus, but eventually the corpse of something unknown in front of even the most hardened scientific skeptic must eventually be accepted as real, no matter how strange or unexpected.  However, in our (hopefully) more enlightened age, perhaps good photographs combined with DNA evidence can get the job done.  That is what is currently underway with the langur monkeys pictured above.

After these photographs were published, the idea of a new species was challenged by other primatologists.  Vincent Nijman, a primatologist at Oxford Brookes University, has suggested that these langurs are a previously known species that have been dyed or bleached, as he claims is often done in Indonesia.  However, this claim has been questioned by Francesco Nardelli who has never seen an example of an altered animal being sold in markets in over a decade of field work in Indonisia.

We bigfooters can sit back and watch this potentially important case unfold.  I will keep you updated as I hear about things unfolding.

Click here to read the article about the potential discovery.