In this real science article ‘Hobbit’ joins human family tree, Dr. Henry Gee speculates that species like Homo floresiensis, a recently discovered species in the human family, might still exist somewhere in the unexplored tropical forest of Indonesia.
Although this is only speculation, one would be hard pressed to find a more educated guesser than Dr. Gee, PhD of Cambridge university and senior editor at Nature magazine, one of the world’s most venerable scientific journals.
Scientists are often reluctant to make such speculations because of backlash that can occur in the scientific community, and so Dr. Gee is to be commended.
Indeed, what harm is there in these kind of fun speculations, especially in the context of real science? More likely these types of ideas can get people interested in fields they otherwise may not have.
It’s a safe bet that if you were to poll scientists on their fiction reading habits, you are likely to find more than a few fans of science fiction.
One of my favorite such fun speculations is the mathematical proof of the concave Earth model proposed by Egyptian mathematician Mostafa Abdelkader. The Concave Earth Hypothesis posits the highly unlikely scenario that we live, not on the exterior of a globe, but on the inside of a hollow sphere!
In his 1992 book On the Wild Side, author Martin Gardner states that “most mathematicians believe that an inside-out universe, with properly adjusted physical laws, is empirically irrefutable”, and that the model can only be discounted by the use of Occam’s Razor.
I can’t think of a funner way to get interested in math, nor can I think of a funner way to get interested in biology than the idea that some undiscovered species may yet live in those places most inaccessible to man.
And the possibility of undiscovered hominan certainly seems more likely than an inverted universe, as mathematically irrefutable as the latter concept may be.
Indeed, the hunt for undiscovered hominids continues to this day in the very region proposed by Dr. Gee, most notably by famed Cryptozoologist, Richard Freeman, and documented in this very interesting article in the Guardian “On the trail of the orang pendek, Sumatra’s mystery ape” and in Mr. Freeman’s own Cryptozoology book, ORANG PENDEK: Sumatra’s Forgotten Ape.
Perhaps Richard Freeman is not so far on the fringe as he may seemed. One wonders what Dr. Gee would have to say about it.
* * *
Dr. Henry Gee’s books include The Science of Middle-Earth, now available in eBook format, In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, and Jacob’s Ladder: The History of the Human Genome.
PDFs of cited Articles: