The Time of King Kong and the Hobbits

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A Hobbit, Human, and Neanderthal

100,000 years ago there were countless other species like Homo sapiens, but much different all the same. For instance, back then if our ancestors had ventured out of Africa they might have encountered Homo floresiensis or even Gigantopithecus blacki. The former are the “hobbits” and the latter was a real life “King Kong” that could have been very dangerous. Gigantopithecines were ten feet tall and weighed more than half a ton. King Kong lived in what is now Vietnam, China, and India. They were the largest known primates that ever lived. The thing is that although Homo sapiens never encountered King Kong, Homo erectus did. This must have been terrifying for those early humans. Gigantopithecines would have been absolutely massive compared to any prehistoric person. They were twice as tall as Homo sapiens. To make matters worse, as the climate began to change and shortages of fruit began to occur, King Kong became more and more irritable.

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King Kong

This was totally a time of Lord of the Rings, with dwarfs, elves, giants and everything else. There were all sorts of apes 4,000 generations ago, at a time when small bands of our ancestors lived in and around Ethiopia. Hominids of all sorts and sizes lived all around the world then. There were smart and dumb species, short and tall ones, dark colored and light colored types of humans, and even crude versus sophisticated. Homo sapiens were tall and thin, while Homo neanderthalensis was rather short and stubby. The thing is that the real “hobbits” were nothing like what we see in the movies. In reality, Homo floresiensis was something altogether different from Bilbo and Frodo. They were three to four foot tall Indonesian islanders descended from Homo eructus. These were sophisticated people that engaged in the cooperative hunting of Stegodons, among other things. They even made stone tools, used fire for cooking, and lived in caves, similar to Homo sapiens, but they were altogether different from us.

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A Hobbit

Elsewhere in the ancient world, the Neanderthals were yet another of the many different people of the Pleistocene. Homo neanderthalensis developed their own unique way of life in and around Europe, which carried on for generations. Neanderthals had good verbal skills. They successfully hunted deer, boar, mammoths, and much more. Still, Homo neanderthalensis made stone flake tools and developed a range of memes and behaviors that seemed rather simple to Homo sapiens. Neanderthals also lived in much smaller and more sparsely distributed groups than our ancestors did. So, after modern humans came along, the Neanderthals tried to mimic real human culture as best as they could. Surprisingly, the two different populations of archaic people shared Europe for millennia. Of course, being who we are Homo sapiens eventually outcompeted Homo neanderthalensis, but not before mating with them time and time again.

A Neanderthal

In spite of all the efforts of the ancient others, they all died off, but we live on. In the end, only the humans survived. Homo sapiens did everything it took to perpetuate the species. So, as was bound to happen, the Neanderthals died off more than 30 thousand years ago, the hobbits all perished 12,000 years ago, and so on and so forth. There are so many different kinds of people that have come and gone, like the Denisovans and countless others. Regardless, Homo sapiens appear to be the only extant species in our genus anywhere in the world. On top of that, we are now so widespread that the global population of modern humans is up to more than 7 billion people. So, I guess we successfully completed the epic Dungeons and Dragons campaign, or whatever.

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Humans

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An Autodidact Polymath

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