Preface Materials for Little People Series #3

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  • Little People Series #3 Homo floresiensis and the Ebu Gogo of Flores


    By John Michael Gorrindo

    Audio Track: Return of the King- Battle Between the Hobbits and Ebu Gogo


    Hi Fiona and Will! This is Grandpa, and once again, I am here to present you both with another installment of the Little Peoples’ Series from Indonesia!

    So far, you have heard the story telling and music about the Tuyul of Jawa, and the Orang Pendek of Sumatra. We are now moving far to the east; to the mystical island of Flores where the great komodo dragons live. In fact- yes- it is true I have seen the komodos on the small island of Rinca just off the coast the larger island of Flores.

    This time you will be listening to an adventure story that takes place between two ancient and now extinct human-like Little Peoples: the famous Hobbit (Homo floresiensis) and the Ebu Gogo. First I will tell you about the Hobbit.

    The Hobbit of Flores

    Bones of the Hobbit, which is a creature bigger than you kids but smaller than your parents, were first found in the large and beautiful cave Liang Bua about twenty years ago. The bones were many thousands of years old. It appears that Hobbits lived in caves and fed their families in those same caves because the remains of so many animals were found there as well as the hobbit skeletons.

    The Hobbits were not exactly human, but had similar skeletons. This is the first Hobbit skeleton put together from the bones found in the cave.

    Notice how small the Hobbit’s skull is as compared to a human’s:

    The Hobbits could stand and walk like us and made weapons for hunting. The Hobbit below is carry a giant rat that he hunted and killed.


    Well, kids, you may be asking yourself why are there giant rats and komodo dragons on the one hand, and little people on the other as found on the Indonesian island of Flores? I don’t really know, but some animals were large and others small back in the time of the Hobbits, and there is truth to the idea that some creatures shrank and become mini in size after living for many generations on an island. Here are some examples of creatures that either became smaller or larger in size over the thousands of years between the time of the Hobbits and our time today. These animals were a source of food for the hobbits who hunted them. We know this because the animals’ bones were found in the big cave I told you about earlier. There is one thing that is true for all these creatures- including the Hobbits- they are all now extinct.

    We talked about the giant rats earlier. That is one example of an animal that has shrunk in size. But there still exist today a form of giant rat on the island of Flores:

    In this next illustration, a hunting party of hobbits are hunting a small elephant- an example of a pygmy elephant, or stegodon. It is the size of a cow:

    Hobbits also shared their island home with Giant Storks!

    Giant monitor lizards- similar to the great komodo dragons- were a danger and hunted by Hobbits, too!

    We don’t know just when the Hobbits first appeared in Flores, but the bones found in the cave probably date from about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago! We are pretty sure, that like the Orang Pendek, the Hobbits are similar to but not exactly like humans.


    The Ebu Gogo- The Wildman of Flores

    The last of the Ebu Gogo of Flores apparently all died in a fire inside a cave maybe 200 years ago. Like the Hobbits, they were smaller than humans. Unlike the Hobbits, they lived in areas of the rainforest in close proximity to humans and made contact with humans. The human tribe they were in contact with were called the Nage, and they did not like the Ebu Gogo because the Ebu Gogo stole their crops. The Ebu Gogo did not know how to farm for their own food and not being very smart had no real tools that allowed them to raise crops. There were many myths about the Ebu Gogo- that they had appetites that could never be satisfied and that they even kidnapped and ate human babies! But others said that they didn’t eat meat. They apparently smelled really bad and were very hairy. Here are some artists’ conceptions of what they looked like: (This is pretty strange and scary stuff!!)

    Wow! Glad that’s over with!

    So Fiona and Will, I have to use my imagination to provide for a story that is about how the Ebu Gogo and Hobbits had a conflict once upon a time. Listen to both the story and the music carefully!

    Love you both very much, Grandpa