No link found between Flores Island pygmies and ancient ‘hobbits’ in study

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Rampasasa pygmies on the Indonesian island of Flores display no DNA hints of hobbit ancestry, scientists say. The 1.2-meter-tall Rampasasa villager shown here has disputed claims by tour guides that he is descendant of hobbits. Image credit: Science News
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Geneticist Serena Tucci sat in the small Indonesian village of Rampasasa on Flores Island, the only woman in a room full of male researchers and pygmy villagers.

[O]nce the villagers understood, they were excited. They wanted to know what their genetics could reveal about their personal history. They wanted to know if they were the descendants of the ancient hominins who once inhabited their island, Homo floresiensis, sometimes called hobbits for their resemblance to the fictional Tolkien creatures.

The results of their research are published [August 2] in the journal Science: the modern pygmies have no relation to Homo floresiensis—though they do contain genetic material from Neanderthals and Denisovans, two extinct hominin lineages. While many modern humans have traces of extinct hominins in their DNA, the particular admixture seen in the pygmies is unique, and tells a fascinating story of how populations from different regions—the islands of Southeast Asia and the East Asia coast—mingled on this island.

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As for how the pygmy people of Rampasasa themselves feel about the study results, that remains to be seen. In a village with no phones or Internet, sharing the data is a bit of a logistical hurdle. “We’re working now to set up a new expedition to Flores to bring the results back,” Tucci says.

Read full, original post: A New Genetic Study Suggests Modern Flores Island Pygmies and Ancient Hobbits Are Unrelated

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