One of the speakers, Dr D. N. of Portsmouth, has written with his usual eloquence on the subject here. I expect I was asked to participate following an article I wrote following the discovery of Homo floresiensis some years ago, which attracted quite a lot of notice (I returned to the theme here, thanks to the patronage of Grrlscientist).
My argument is as follows – if a strange variety of human, not a member of Homo sapiens, survived on Earth until as recently as 12,000 years ago — barely a Mote in the Eye of Brahma, given that the human lineage has been distinct for at least six million years – then that should make us more open to the possibility of the existence of other creatures whose presence had hitherto troubled only those interested in folk-tales or the accounts of enthusiasts.
This does not mean that we should join the ranks of the uncritical – only that we should take seriously the possibility that such creatures might exist, or have existed in the recent past. It’s a theme that runs through the book I’m currently writing (this week’s working title, Unknown Unknowns) showing how new discoveries, particularly of fossils, regularly overturn received notions of what is possible or expected.
So perhaps I shall see some of you at what should be a lively meeting. Gorilla suits optional.