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Scientists have discovered small beings that lived on Taiwan long before the native population did. These people were originally mysterious characters from legend.

The folks appeared to be hunter-gatherers since they had black skin and were quite short.

They were well-known figures from Taiwanese folklore, but there was never any concrete proof that they actually existed.

Famously, Taiwan is home to an Austronesian native population whose history on the island dates back 5,000 years.


Oral histories of these people, however, have made reference to a different civilisation that appeared to be far older. They were characterized as having dark skin, curly hair, and a little stature and were sometimes referred to as "pygmies" or tiny people.


They appeared with astonishing consistency throughout an unusually long period of time, but for centuries they were merely fables.


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They were discovered in Taiwan by scientists at the beginning of October.

In a paper that was peer-reviewed and published in the journal World Archaeology, archaeologists made a compelling case that the remains found in the cave in southeast Taiwan belonged to "Negritos," an ethnic group that is still present in the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, and the Andaman Islands.


According to Hung Hsiao-chun, senior research fellow of Archaeology and Natural History at the Australian National University and one of the study's authors, "Prior to our work, some people knew about the legends of the'small black people' of eastern Taiwan who reportedly lived there long ago, but the stories were unclear and generally regarded as a mystery."


Before the island was later settled by the Austronesian people, who are the progenitors of contemporary indigenous communities, Hung claimed that this ancient hunter-gatherer population had lived on Taiwan for centuries and even tens of thousands of years.


The widely used scientific and historical name for this ethnic group is "Negritos," which directly translates from Spanish as "small-black."


It is thought that negritos are decedents of the "First Sundaland People." They represent a crucial population for scholars looking into the "Out of Africa" theory because it is thought that their ancestors moved from Africa through South Asia and subsequently East Asia.


The researchers determined that the skulls discovered in Taiwan's Xiaoma cave are comparable to those of other Negritos, and by analyzing the femur bone, they calculated that the skeletons were roughly 139 cm (just under 4'6") tall.


According to Hung, Taiwan's oldest known settlers landed roughly 30,000 years ago, when a long-gone land bridge connected the island to what is now mainland China. But after being cut off by the water around 10,000 years ago, the land bridge vanished.


"Ancient archaeological layers have revealed that hunter-gatherers had been residing in this region for at least 30,000 years at multiple cave sites in eastern Taiwan. As a result, albeit at a considerably later date than the Xiaoma discoveries, they nonetheless represented members of the same ancient hunter-gatherer population "said Hung.


Taiwan's earlier histories often have a significant pause between 15,000 and 7,000 years ago. The Negrito skulls date back to 6,000 years, whereas considerable numbers of Austronesian inhabitants arrived on the island about 5,000 years ago.


This considerable time difference prompts interesting queries. Were the Negrito cave dwellers descended from the earliest 30,000 years ago humans? Or did this tribe arrive in Taiwan earlier than other ethnic groups? There is currently no evidence that can definitively respond to those queries.


Hung asserted that the Negritos and the earliest Austronesian groups who arrived in Taiwan around 5,000 years ago probably interbred.


We do not yet know the specifics of these interactions, but at least some overlap and contact very likely took place, she told the South China Morning Post.


It's interesting to learn about the Taiwanese Negrito people's legend. The Austronesians were one of the ethnic groupings, and around half of them saw the Negritos as their foes, while the other half saw them as either allies, neutrals, or ancestors. The Saisiyats, a particular ethnic group, had a remarkably complex connection with the Negritos.

The Saisiyats, of which there is still a small group in Taiwan, have a custom known as "Pas-ta'ai," which is a ceremonial to "honor the Short People."


Legend has it that the "dwarf-sized Ta'ai people" and the ancient Saisiyats were neighbors, and the Ta'ai taught the Saisiyats the fundamentals of medicine, singing, dancing, and other cultural customs.


However, according to mythology, the Saisiyat women were tormented by the Ta'ai people, who were eventually slaughtered by the Saisiyat people of antiquity after they had had enough.


According to the tale, the Saisiyats afterwards went through a horrible famine, which they blamed on "vengeful pygmy spirits." The Saisiyats now perform the "Pas-ta'ai" ceremony every two years to ask for pardon for the transgressions of their ancestors.


According to Hung, the Negritos likely perished as a result of a conflict between their hunter-gatherer way of life and increasingly sedentary agricultural cultures. They were probably driven out of their environment over several generations and struggled to acclimate to the new way of life.


It was not unusual for other Negrito communities in Asia to go extinct, despite the fact that Negrito groups in Southeast Asia also became vulnerable with the emergence of widespread agriculture.


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