Thursday, October 28, 2004

Work and near relatives 

It's been ages since I've written in this blog, mostly due to being exhausted from work and also drawing to try to meet deadlines. I owe proper emails to some friends that are getting too long overdue, which I'm sorry about. By the end of the day, I find it difficult to face the thought of being on the computer. Maybe I should take up writing letters by hand again... I'm serious!
The reason I'm writing is because of something in the news that astounded me, but not completely. More on that later below.

Last weekend,I spent a fair bit of time making animals out of fimo for children to buy at the School Open Day. I made frogs (complete with glazed eyes), echidnas, rosellas, and different coloured starfish.

As I decided not to apply for the position (mostly due to travel) where I am on secondment currently, there's a lot of work to catch up in the month before I leave. I'll miss the grounds here a lot, with the wonderful range of birdlife and, since the weather warmed up, the moat has been full of turtles floating in the sunlight.

Near relatives
Something that captured my imagination today are the reports in Nature of the finding of comparatively recent remains of an previously unknown species of human, about a metre tall, from the Indonesian island of Flores. I know this observation will be widely made in the next few years, but I am overjoyed at this apparent vindication of the tales of Orang Pendek from Sumatra, and Nittaewo from Sri Lanka (for an early account of both, see Bernard Heuvelmans' On the Track of Unknown Animals).

I'm not suggesting that these astounding relatives still exist, but the fact that they coexisted with modern humans, and to within several thousand (possibly even hundred) years ago is almost beyond belief. We Westerners seem to work on the notion that local people in wild areas spend their time making up tales to confound us. How very wrong we are!


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