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Prehistoric Midgets

Located east of the Java Sea in along with some miniature elephants and giant lizards. Sounds like a cool place. We also learn the island rule: "animals smaller than rabbits get larger; animals larger than rabbits get smaller." And what happens to rabbits?

October 27, 2004 | Permalink


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Aren't you going to blame their extinction on Bush's "intept [sic] war planning"? It must be Halliburton's fault.

Posted by: Modern Crusader | Oct 27, 2004 4:44:18 PM

I would assume that rabbits remain rabbit sized.

And cute.

Posted by: Kangaroo Jack | Oct 27, 2004 4:48:47 PM

Rough day, MC?

Posted by: G C | Oct 27, 2004 4:48:49 PM

I'm not letting my eight-year old read your site anymore, because now he's going on about getting a miniature elephant for Christmas. Thanks a lot.

Posted by: thurgo | Oct 27, 2004 4:49:15 PM

Well, in a sense.

One thing articles like this always do is remind you how much biologically richer the world was before modern humans showed up. Urbanism, industry, capitalism, and, yes, war are just intensifications of the same stupid shit we've been pulling for the past 20,000 years.

Ah well. Can't go back. Hopefully we'll learn to do better one of these days. But I suspect that that Komodo dragons and (full-sized) elephants will be historical curiosities too, at least in the wild, for my great-grandkids...

Posted by: lemuel pitkin | Oct 27, 2004 4:52:43 PM

I would really, really like to comment, but the boycott of all things Yglesias -- including Yglesias cola and Cheese YglesiOs -- remains in effect.


Posted by: Jon Moyer | Oct 27, 2004 4:55:00 PM

The rabbits just keep on making more rabbits. They're good at that.

Posted by: DaveL | Oct 27, 2004 4:55:01 PM

If the midget humans weren't great swimmers, then they were obviously drowned in Noah's flood.

Posted by: C.J.Colucci | Oct 27, 2004 4:56:14 PM

"And what happens to rabbits?"

They get Eaten By Midget Wolves, of course. I had just read that article, pretty fantastic.

Posted by: sofia | Oct 27, 2004 4:57:13 PM

Anybody remember the passage in C.S.Lewis' the Narnia Chronicles (I think it was in the Magician's Nephew) where, when Aslan selects certain animals to be talking animals, the large ones gets smaller and the smallest (like the mice) get bigger? Now we know that Reepicheep comes from an island in the Java Sea ...

Posted by: Diana | Oct 27, 2004 4:58:36 PM

"And what happens to rabbits?"

There are no rabbits, never were any rabbits. Rabbits are endiginous to the middle east and were brought to norhtern europe and the UK by the crusaiders (yeah the bad guys who really did not like muslems and showed GWB all he knows about middle eastern relations). For a while there was a very resticted supply of rabits in the UK with cartels carfully controlling the numbers, then a couple of the rabbits escaped the man made warrens and did what rabbits are best known for. Some time later rabbits were transplanted to North America following the pilgrim fathers.

Get the picture, even why back when we were transplantig species and altering the local ecological balance. the Isolated island with all the funny sized species was letf alone and not subject to all these influences, evolution happened. Try reading the origin of species some time, the galapogus were just like this, it drives the christian wingnuts batty.

Posted by: bloke | Oct 27, 2004 5:05:41 PM

That rabbit rule is way too simplistic. Islands, when they are first colonized by animals, have loads of open ecological niches. So animals have tendencies towards both giantism and miniaturism on islands, as compared to the mainland, in order to evolve to fill these various niches. So you can get giant birds like the dodo, or miniature humanoids like these things.

It might be a decent rule of thumb, but there are plenty of exceptions. Of course, it depends on the size of the island, too. Small islands can't support many, oir any, large species.

Recommended reading: The Song of the Dod: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen. The best popular science book I've ever read.

Posted by: Doug Turnbull | Oct 27, 2004 5:05:42 PM

Three-foot Komodo dragons? Hardly "giant" lizards, Matthew.

Posted by: strannix | Oct 27, 2004 5:29:00 PM

wait, if that's true, then what's up with the critters on Lost?

Actually, this is very cool but also sorta freaking me out a bit.

Posted by: flip | Oct 27, 2004 5:30:17 PM

Here are some other sources: Nature's special online section on Flores Man is free.

Have you heard of these things called "blogs"? There are a couple of science blogs around that have more details:

Carl Zimmer has a summary of the significance of the discovery.

I've got some of the figures online at Pharyngula.

Posted by: PZ Myers | Oct 27, 2004 5:30:27 PM

That's so cool. I would be a giant among women.

Posted by: Saheli | Oct 27, 2004 5:31:33 PM

Kerrys lawyers are lining up to make sure there votes count tuesday.

Posted by: JHALEY | Oct 27, 2004 5:46:21 PM


Posted by: SoCalJustice | Oct 27, 2004 5:53:51 PM

You probably think that rabbits are rodents, but they're not. You probably didn't know that rabbits eat everything twice, but they do. (They don't have enormous compartamentalized cow stomachs to process cellulose and they don't chew the cud, so the first time through it's only half-digested.

Next week: birds that give milk.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 27, 2004 5:57:12 PM

Duh. Rabbits that are larger than rabbits get smaller. Rabbits that are smaller than rabbits get larger.

MY, didn't you even read your own post?

Posted by: Clark Williams-Derry | Oct 27, 2004 6:04:28 PM

They didn't have tough, hair-covered feet, did they?

Posted by: Julian Elson | Oct 27, 2004 6:06:12 PM

Psst... all y'all hear the latest of Duckbilled Platypuses?!


Posted by: Julian Elson | Oct 27, 2004 6:10:47 PM

BTW: Zizka, did you read Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood?

The rabbit method of digestion features there, in a new, enhanced version of humanity.

Plus its protagonist is a schismatic generalist in an age of techno-dweebs, and the free market (of sorts) rules everything and makes everyone miserable.

Well, *I* liked it, at least.

Posted by: Julian Elson | Oct 27, 2004 6:36:14 PM

"Three-foot Komodo dragons? Hardly "giant" lizards, Matthew."

Komodo dragons reach 10 feet, they're the largest lizard, and are island dwellers. Other monitors, like the Nile and Savanna monitor, are smaller (3-6 feet) and are not island dwellers.

Perhaps someone meant "three-meter Komodo dragons"

Posted by: Jon H | Oct 27, 2004 7:27:14 PM

Jon H,

Don't bother trying to correct Matthew on his numerous, shameless, and deliberate factual errors. It's obvious his agenda is not to learn but to lie. He's part of the "Intept Based Community" which means his antiamerican religion trumps facts.

Posted by: Modern Crusader | Oct 27, 2004 10:04:58 PM

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