Unique to the island of Flores, Indonesia, the Ebu Gogo were supposedly small but monstrous human-like creatures.
Their small stature has led to them becoming known as the real-life Hobbits.
The local people known as the Nage have told tales about the Ebu Gogo for many generations. “Ebu” means “grandmother,” and “gogo” means “he who eats anything.”
The Ebu Gogo were said to have an almost insatiable appetite, apparently kidnapping and eating human children and babies. Rumored to have eaten everything raw, including vegetables and meat, the Ebu Gogo did not seem to know how to create fire.
Thought to be thoroughly disagreeable and greedy creatures, they were bipedal and believed to be fast runners. They had broad faces with wide, flat noses, large mouths, and an abundance of hair on their bodies.
Also described as having pot bellies, sticking-out ears, a slightly awkward way of walking, and relatively long arms and fingers, the Ebu Gogo would have been quite a sight.
Female Ebu Gogo apparently had rather pendulous breasts – so pendulous, in fact, that they threw them over their shoulders.
One alarming characteristic of these legendary creatures was their ability to swallow things whole – including puppies, piglets, and small children.
Although the Ebu Gogo seemingly mumbled in their own language, they could apparently also mimic human words in a similar fashion to parrots.
According to lore, the villagers lived alongside the Ebu Gogo for many years. In an effort to get to know them, they invited them to join feasts and celebrations. This was fine until the Ebu Gogo began to get greedy, stealing crops and killing livestock. They even began to kidnap children.
Because of their destructive and aggressive activities, the Ebu Gogo were driven far into the rainforest, where they were killed by their human neighbors. However, it is thought that one couple survived, and they are believed to have hidden from humans, perhaps procreating at a later date.
It is believed that the population began to decline rapidly soon after the arrival of Portuguese and Dutch settlers in the 17th century.
The Ebu Gogo may be an ancient species of human
Bizarrely, in 2003, the remains of a hitherto unknown hominin creature were found on Flores. Subsequently, given the scientific name Homo floresiensis, the species was also colloquially referred to as “hobbits” because their height measured only about four feet.
Initially dated to about 12,000 years old, new research has pushed that age further back to about 60,000 years old. It is thought that these “hobbits” lived alongside Homo sapiens on the island for a short period, but it was likely the arrival of the sapiens that led to their extinction.
By examining the skeletons, scientists were able to confirm that Homo floresiensis was able to use fire, rudimentary tools, and even basic language.
What is more, by looking at the shape of the skull, it was determined that the size of Brodmann’s area 10 – the part of the brain that indicates the level of intelligence – is the same size as that of modern humans.
The archaeologists were shocked by this discovery. The “hobbit” exhibited the same features as ancient humanoids that had been extinct for millions of years.
Homo floresiensis was incredibly ape-like, with the head protruding forward and the arms and legs shaped more like an ape than a human.
However, the species was definitely bi-pedal, and showed many human attributes too.
Scientists largely suspect that Homo floresiensis was long wiped out, but could some have survived deep in the forest? The race, in fact, may have lived long enough to inspire the Nage’s stories of Ebu Gogo.
Could the legend of the Ebu Gogo have been inspired by these creatures? Some natives of Flores still believe the legend is real.
The legend of Ebu Gogo inspired a 2015 movie by Animal Planet called The Cannibal in the Jungle, which told the tale of three scientists attacked by strange cannibalistic creatures in the jungle on Flores.
Sightings and Tales
Modern sightings of these creatures are sporadic and largely unconfirmed, based mostly on rumor and legend. Missionaries to the island in the 1920s reported seeing “small ape-like creatures” in the mountains of Flores.
Since then, there have been stories of random encounters. In 2004, Chief Epiradus Dhoi Lewa of Boawae, Flores, claimed that people from his village managed to capture a tiny woman with pendulous breasts.
The villagers said the woman reached waist height and was very pretty. They believe she came down from a cave on a nearby mountain. Mysteriously, she managed to escape, and the local police have no record of the incident.
Dr Gregory Forth, a British professor of anthropology and former Oxford academic, decided to travel to Flores to document as many records of sightings as he could. He gathered as many as 30 eyewitnesses, who all claimed to have seen an Ebu Gogo.
In his book, Between Ape And Human, Forth wrote, “‘I conclude that the best way to explain what they told me is that a non-sapiens hominin has survived on Flores to the present or very recent times.”
To this day, the legend lives on and is often used to scare children – much like the boogie man is used to scare children in the US.
|Other Name/s||Homo floresiensis, Hobbits|
Where to find
animalplanet.com, “The Cannibal In the Jungle: When Cultural Memories Meet Science,” accessed September 11, 2017,
telegraph.co.uk, “Villagers speak of the small, hairy Ebu Gogo,” accessed September 11, 2017,
ancient-origins.net, “Ghosts, Hobbits or Cannibals? The Legend of Ebu Gogo, the Secret Tribe of Wild Grandmother Flesheaters”, accessed September 11, 2017,
exploringlifesmysteries.com, “Cryptozoology Creatures: Animals of Legend”, accessed September 11, 2017,
dianetibert.com, “Deep in the Heart of an Island Forest Lived a Hauflin,” accessed September 11, 2017,
smh.com.au, “Hobbits? We’ve got a cave full”, accessed September 11, 2017,
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10752687/British-anthropologist-believes-theres-evidence-Homo-species-alive.html, “Could a tribe of ‘hobbits’ really be roaming the remote jungles of Indonesia?” accessed February 20, 2023,
https://journalnews.com.ph/the-hidden-hominoid-does-ebu-gogo-still-exist/, “The Hidden Hominoid: Does Ebu Gogo Still Exist?” accessed February 20, 2023,
https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/02/10/were-the-mythical-ebu-gogo-creatures-of-new-zealand-distant-human-relatives/, “Were the mythical ‘ebu gogo’ creatures of New Zealand distant human relatives?, accessed February 20, 2023.
- Artwork of an early species of hominid. Pic credit: @PBS/YouTube
Last modified on March 15th, 2023 at 3:20 pm