A recent chapter in the history wars has returned a colonial-era mystery to the limelight: the existence of several tribes of Pygmy Aboriginal peoples in the Cairns and Yarrabah Peninsula regions in Queensland. Despite a general belief in their extinction, their descendants still live around Cairns, as archaeologist Peter McAllister found on a recent research trip. Attempting to unravel their origins led McAllister to discover the fascinating truth about Pygmy peoples, who, contrary to common belief, still live in isolated pockets around the world, from South America to South-East Asia. But are these distinct populations related? How do the Greek and Roman Pygmy myths hold up against reality? Is the short stature of Pygmy peoples due to genetic codes or environmental conditions? And are today's Pygmies remnants of an ancient Pygmonia - 'land of the Pygmies' - which early anthropologists believed had once spanned the globe? Quirky and insightful, Pygmonia takes you on a fascinating journey to answer these questions.
Peter McAllister is our newest Puffin Aussie Bites contributor. He lives in Queensland.