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The Aquatic Ape Theory
Aquatic Ape Theory is mostly the work of just two people
- I have nothing new to add, except for a possible connection with global cataclysms)
Consensus amongst scientists (known
as the Savannah Theory) has it that the following sequence occurred:
- When human predecessors in the African jungles became overpopulated,
some of them were forced to live on the open plain or savannah.
Having to hunt game for food, they learnt to stand on their hind legs to see their
prey more easily
- Because it was so hot out there,
they shed their hair to enable sweat to flow freely
Speech and intelligence grew from the need to communicate and hunt in packs
humans evolved. On the surface it makes a lot of sense, and we can be forgiven
for not questioning any aspects of this theory. We know from images in encyclopedias
and popular culture that primitive men hunted animals for food and skin, and that
they lived in caves. They were hairy brutish thugs and a perfect intermediary
between the chimpanzees and humans of today.
is just a small portion of my online book, Survive 2012 - a look into possible
ways our world might end, and how to survive. Available in bookstores sometime
before 2012, fingers-crossed...|
the Savannah Theory is riddled with conundrums, such as:
such as baboons and vervet monkeys live on the savannah - they have not become
bipedal, nor have they lost hair
- The many thousands
of years it took to evolve from being able to move quickly on four legs, to beings
able to run on two legs, would have left the prototype humans extremely vulnerable
Mammals are not designed to walk
vertically, because it is grossly inefficient. If the first apes attempted it,
they would have been like year old babies: falling over all the time. Furthermore,
the missing link would have lacked the locking mechanism of the knees
that we have today. Imagine trying to stand with your knees bent for a few hours.
Without a high priority reason to do so, the human predecessors would have simply
given up. Evolution does not have an agenda. Animals cannot see into the future
and aspire to being human, they can only respond to need. To gain a better view
over the tall grass, a more obvious change, seeing as our ape relatives are good
at jumping, would have been to jump higher.
spine is designed like a clothes rack - things hang from it. It consists of a
long, slightly arched rod supported by two sets of legs. The animals body
weight is evenly distributed and the centre of gravity is low, making for a well-balanced
individual. Using four legs has been shown, by the evolution of all the other
species, to be best way of getting about. In rare cases like kangaroos and ostriches,
you can see how evenly their weight is distributed. No other animal walks perpendicular
like humans - it isnt an efficient way of doing things. If you need more
convincing, simply consider the terrible back problems the majority of us will
suffer during our life time due to our ridiculous posture.
is, however, one primate species that regularly walks on its hind legs, the proboscis
monkeys of Borneo. They live in mangrove swamps and regularly drop down into the
water below them. They are excellent swimmers, but if they are able to touch the
bottom they elect to walk, just like humans. With the support of water around
them, the instability and discomfort of terrestrial bipedalism disappears. With
their heads held up high they are able to breathe easier than when swimming.
plot thickens when we delve into he geological and climatic history of North East
Africa, where the fossils of Lucy and other famous human ancestors
have been dug up. Lucys scientific title is Australopithecus afarensis,
because she was found in the region of Ethiopia known as Afar. From seven million
to 70,000 years ago this area was an inland sea, sea water that flooded in and
then got trapped, separated from the ocean proper. This is typical of the environment
we would expect an Aquatic Ape to evolve in. Today it has all dried up, leaving
a virtually impassable desert, with salt deposits thousands of feet deep.
key problem cited by orthodox scientists, the lack of fossil evidence for the
Aquatic Ape Theory, is ridiculous. None of the aquatic characteristics listed
here can be deduced from fossils. So theoretically any ancient hominids may have
had these features, we just cant tell. For the same reason, scientists might
guess at the skin or hair colour of fossils, but they cannot know.
out that most African hominid fossils have been found in or near bodies of water.
This is explained as they were passing by, and stopped for a drink
or heavy rains made the river overflow and they drowned. The obvious
explanation, that they lived in and beside the water (as most humans still do),
is rarely considered.
There is considerable evidence
to show that regions of Africa once had the same characteristics as the mangrove
swamps of Borneo.
A press release from the University
of Toronto, August 1999, states:
first humans may have been beach-dwellers foraging for shellfish, not grassland
.evidence that the large brains of the earliest humans
could only have evolved on the nutrient-rich diet provided by shellfish and other
animal life found near shorelines. "You don't need a big brain to collect
mussels and clams. But living on them gives you the excess energy and nutrients
that can then be directed towards brain growth."
popular image of the earliest humans living on the African savanna must be wrong,
[Stephen] Cunnane says. His team has found that a specific fatty acid, DHA, necessary
for human brain and eye development, is easily available in food near shore environments
but not in the diet of savanna mammals. This suggests humans evolved near water
before spreading inland, he says.
to see early humans as hunters who took advantage of nature and grew a big brain
in the process," he says. "But how could that hunting ability miraculously
appear overnight? Well, it didn't. Instead, they evolved in a place where they
didn't have to hunt."
Cunnane believes recent
hominid finds in South Africa that show proto-human fossils in close association
with the remains of aquatic creatures are more evidence for the theory, which
he hopes to further test next year by isotopic analysis of early human fossils.
Sweaty and Hairless
Charles Darwin once wrote:
The loss of hair is an inconvenience and probably an
injury to man , for he is thus exposed to the scorching of the sun and to sudden
chills, especially due to wet weather. No one supposes that the nakedness of the
skin is any direct advantage to man; his body therefore cannot have divested of
hair through natural selection."
Savannah Theory fails in this regard. These areas of Africa can cool to 11ºC
at night, and it would not be an advantage for humans to sleep there even on a
dry night. It is normal for terrestrial animals to have fur or thick hair. Humans
still have the capillary muscles which enable our hair to stand on end. If our
hair were longer it would then trap a layer of air close to the body, creating
a thermal blanket of sorts. Feathers work the same way. Most animals have the
ability to adjust their exterior in accordance with changing air temperature,
whereas us poor humans have to resort to clothing. Hair or fur is also very useful
for protection against injury, something very important in the wild. Obviously
we lost our hair, not because hairlessness was an advantage, but because at one
time our habitat was such that having hair was a distinct disadvantage.
easiest way to determine why humans are hairless is to study other mammals that
have evolved into a similar situation. Charles Darwin commented thus:
Whales and porpoises, dugongs and the hippopotamus are
naked, and this may be advantageous to them for gliding through the water; nor
would it be injurious to them from the loss of warmth, as the species which inhabit
the colder regions are protected by a thick layer of blubber.
are virtually hairless and are capable of swimming many miles, their trunks perfectly
suited to use as a snorkel. The tapir of Asia, Central and South America is like
a mini elephant, with a small proboscis nose. Its hair is very sparse and
it loves to swim and dive. Pigs such as the babirusa are yet another mammalian
species which have evolved to suit living in the water - losing hair and gaining
blubber. (Mammals living in subterranean circumstances have also lost hair, and
usually sight as well - this angle is best put aside for whoever invents The Mole
Pigs and hippopotami readily come to
the minds of children when searching for animal personifications to bait their
obese acquaintances with.
Compared to all the
other primates, humans definitely deserve the fatty tag. A gorilla
or chimpanzee kept in a cage might put on a fraction of extra weight, as might
an old horse that cant run about as much as it use to. But the only land
mammals capable of doubling or trebling their natural weight, to have rolls of
fat hanging from arms, legs, hips and bellies, to be unable to walk without breaking
into a sweat, are humans.
This fattiness is normal.
If a womans body is underweight it chooses not to conceive. A typical 16-year-old
girl should have 27% of her body weight in fatty tissue. If it were to drop below
22%, her menstruation cycle will cease. The reason that we need to stitch up serious
flesh wounds is because the layer of fat just below our skin tries to ooze out.
The edges of the cut become separated and are unable to rejoin and heal - other
mammals dont have this problem, their skin sits on top of muscle, not fat.
The concept of sweating as a cooling device is ridiculous.
This system, which is unique to humans (other mammals that sweat do it less profusely
than us, and use a different type of gland) is flawed. It is prone to activating
at the wrong time (in humid weather), is too slow to start and stop, provides
far more than the thin layer of moisture required for cooling, and wastes salt.
We are the only mammal that expels salt when we sweat. Even when a human is nearing
total dehydration it will continue sweating in hot weather and even die. Our sweating
system is yet another disadvantage of being human.
why do we sweat? One possible reason is to expel salt. If and when they first
took to the sea, our ancestors would have been eating seafood (which by definition
is salty) and accidentally swallowing salt water. The overload on our kidneys
would have created a need for a secondary system to evolve. Seabirds have special
glands for removing salt from their body.
cry, the function of which that has long baffled evolutionary scientists. It is
also for the purpose of expelling salt. You may have noticed that if you cry too
long, the saltiness will sting your eyes. Why this action is nowadays connected
to our emotions is unknown. Have you heard of crocodile tears? Well it is true,
crocodiles also cry as a means of expelling salt from their system (of course
this is not case with freshwater crocs). Walruses cry. Elephants cry. Non-human
primates do not cry. Although we obviously look like monkeys, in some ways we
have close connections to water-loving mammals. Pigs love to wallow,
and we use pigs as organ donors. Elephants are, when you think about it, smooth-skinned,
swimming, crying, intelligent, overweight social animals - just like us. It appears
that they evolved in the ocean as well, but chose to come back on land rather
than becoming whales. Humans made a similar decision, whereas dolphins chose the
Swimming & Diving
and Divers require a large opening to enable the rapid inhalation and exhalation
of air - and our mouths are large compared to the small opening of our nose and
the noses of most other mammals. They also need to be able to close their air
passages, making it harder for them to accidentally swallow water.
"Several unrelated aquatic species have evolved some kind
of movable flap either instead of, or in addition to, valvular nostrils. The penguin
has one, and the crocodile has one. Alone among the primates, humans have such
a flap - that is, the back of the soft palate, known as the velum, which in our
species can be raised and lowered to isolate the nasal passages from the mouth
cavity. It could not opeate in this fashion if the larynx had not retreated out
of its way to its present position below the back of the tongue.
only other mammals which are known to feature a descended larynx are diving mammmals
- the sea lion and the dugong. These two species are about as unrelated to one
another as they are to humans. The descended larynx must have evolved independently
in each of them, after their respective land-dwelling ancestors entered an aquatic
we were aquatic mammals, our descended larynx helped us with communication - as
we began to speak we were capable of a wider range of sounds. The primary reason
why apes such as the chimpanzee can not "speak" is not because of the
limited range of sounds available to them - they can say "ah", "ee",
"oo", and pronounce the letters k, p, h and m. These few sounds are
ample to create a large number of words. They have proven to be capable of excellent
communication using sign language, and they also understand verbal instructions,
but they lack the capacity speak as we do. The reason is not intelligence, it
is to do with breathing. Like most mammals, the breathing function in chimpanzees
is not voluntary, it is as automatic as the heart. To some extent it is also involuntary
in humans, like when we sneeze, hiccup or get a sudden fright. But the rest of
the time we get to choose how we breathe - this is directly attributed to our
aquatic past, when we had to hold our breath to dive below the surface.
control of breath is a characteristic that we share with all other diving mammals,
and something that no other non-aquatic mammals have.
large comparative size of the penis in adult male humans (man 13cm vs gorilla
3cm) is not related to the frequency of deployment. It is a necessary consequence
of the retraction and relative inaccessability of the vagina.
An aquatic environment seems to have had a broadly similar
effect on some other species - that is, relative retraction of the femal sex organ
leading to a corresponding extension of that of the males. For example, most birds
and reptiles do not possess a penis; the pressing together of the cloacal apertures
seems to suffice for the transference of the sperm. But many species of aquatic
reptiles (crocodiles and turtles) and aquatic birds (swans, ducks, geese) have
found it necessary to evolve a penis as part of their adaption to a watery habitat.
In mammals, oestrous status is communicated
by scent signalling - a pheromonal message emitted by the female. Being airborne,
it may be carried quite a long way - as evidenced by the distance a dog will travel
to locate a bitch on heat. But in a wading or swimming ape the pheromones would
be washed away almost as soon as they were scented.
in humans the ability to receive and interpret scent signals is very low. The
olfactory lobe in our brains is proportionately smaller than in the brains of
apes. (This is a common feature in aquatic mammals. In whales and seals the olfactory
lobe has diminished almost to vanishing point.) So one reason for the ending of
the oestrus could be that it ceased to work properly. As a result of the pheronomal
secretions being washed away, plus diminished scent perception, the signal was
simply not getting across.
As humans we have a common sexual position
that is quite different to that of other land-based mammals front to front.
The usual explanation is that we wish to kiss...
copulation, very rare in land mammals, is the commonest mode in aquatic mammals
except for those that go ashore to breed. Whales and dolphins, dugongs and manatees,
beavers, and sea otters are among the numerous aquatic species which mate face
to face. Swimming promotes this method of copulation in the same way that bipedalism
does, because in both cases the spine and the hind limbs are realigned, forming
a continuous straight line instead of the 90-degree angle found in most quadrapreds.
have only touched upon the topic. For far, far more evidence you need to read
the works of Elaine Morgan, especially The Aquatic Ape Theory. Anyone of average
intelligence and an open mind should find her theory to be credible.
Aquatic Apes & 2012
For humans to evolve from
apes in the manner described above, one of the following needed to occur:
1) A localized flood, and all humans descended from
a small group
2) A global flood
a cataclysmic flood scenario, the usual habitats of most land-based mammals would
end up underwater, and large populations would drown. Survivors would be extra
hungry and more likely to attack each other. Humans may have retreated to water
for the sake of safety. Because their numbers were greatly reduced, and (I believe),
subjected to large doses of radiation, we have an ideal situation for rapid evolution.
Where in the timeline of human development this occurred, and whether it was during
the last cataclysm or one prior, I cannot say.
thoughts are as follows:
acquired intelligence and bipedalism whereas other primates did not
The aquatic scenario provides support for bipedalism and brain food
There is evidence of global cataclyms in the past, and myths of great floods
A forced change of habitat combined with increased radiation creates an ideal
situation for rapid evolution
2012 at our forumGive the author your thoughts, and discuss any 2012
ideas with others, at 2012 Forum
Comments from Visitors
i think the thing most of these commenting visitors seem to be missing is that whether or not its "true", its really cool and an exciting thing to think about. and thats much more important to me, for one.
Dudes, as much as the AAT is extremely flawed, the Savannah theory is just as flawed, for all you people who want to stick by it. Humans would not likely have evolved from a savannah-dwelling australopithecine, they would have been selected against due to 1) hairlessness (making us extremely succeptible to changes in the weather); 2) bipedal locomotion (which is inefficient for running to or from anywhere - especially faster predators such as the large felines; plus makes you extremely visible to prey and creates back problems for the organism unlucky enough to get about in this way). Not too mention the increasing helplessness of our young as the brain becomes larger and more developed, meaning that they need to be born earlier and weaker. I know that the last point holds for any environment, but coupled with other factors, it doesn't make a very convincing case for the Savannah hypothesis.
Curious College Student:
Curious College Student:
C1/3: It's not so much that any one theory is wrong or right, or wins or fails, as that there's been a constant bias in "western" intellectual practice (tracking back to its contributing streams) for some 2500 years (most intensely across the last 500 - read Europe and America) for 'silver' bullet (single bullet) theories. There's a, sometimes labelled, Aristotelian or Cartesian, kind of thinking that seems to require either an A OR B result; unlike the persistent and nearly omnipresent phenomena interrelating A AND B (to put it simplistically), that have been, increasingly, pounding on the doors of folks like complex systems theorists. Their ideas, as with archaeologists, quantum field theorists, and other strange bedfellows, arise from observations, theory, experimental demonstrations and direct experience, that the 'world' is dynamically, strangely (to our classical intuitions), and complexly intertwined and interrelated. Hence our theories, especially any as complex as to embrace into a single millennia-spanning picture that might crystallize, not the "correct", but ACTUAL picture of events that occurred (we will never know them all) will be compelling when we hear it, and hear it we will, in our heads, in our hands, and in our hearts.
C2/3: It will be compelling because, as we have all experienced, there is a moment in some (not all) affairs when perspective "comes right", not because it resonates with one's beliefs or paradigms, but , partly, because it transcends them, weaving them as parts into a whole they appear naturally part of; and in whatever direction you look the explanation, story or 'theory' that has crystallised, has resonance and consistent connection in all directions (until at least the next niggling unexplainable arrives :)! ). I think the story, or, theory we're discussing here will "come right', partly because so MANY minds and attentive spirits are turned towards it, and communicating with each other, and, partly because the present environment and its perils, both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, continue to create an environment of rising pressure.
- Somehow, this question, and others, are interlinked less and less with our armchair, academic, or professional curiosities, and somehow, more and more with a growing and sometimes indefinable urgency that I believe most people sense, but do not presently articulate. Anyway, I believe these discussions are both interesting and vital because, in increasingly interconnected circles, we are all trying to work out something of more than passing curiosity, and perhaps of central importance within the event horizons of our own personal lives.
C3/3: It is also interesting and disturbingly sobering to begin to see the narrowing in the choice of forms that somehow consistently interrelate the various faces of "evolution", mysteries such as the Dogon tribe of Mali, why the mitochondrial clock in "man", presently, points back to some events roughly 200-to-300,000 years back; the various accounts (as taken from original archaelogical records) of Genesis that predate Genesis, and the thousands of pieces of history, legend, fossil, traditions, findings and more, that abound. One of my interests is in "invariance", in the sense of what remains "true" (or 'so') independent of changes in or across co-ordinates, contexts and consciousness. I think George Santayana has, recently, said it best, in 1905, in "The Life of Reason, Volume 1": "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." We've had such a large and global amnesia I sometimes think of our current efforts as part of a huge effort to recover our hidden histories and, hence, our memories and imminent futures. Let's keep talking.
I fail to see what this has to do with 2012... [from Rob: well, a global cataclysm = global flooding = humans living in the sea]
Aquatic apes - well you're pretty close on this. Most bio-anthropologists would or should agree since this has been talked about for over 30 years.
[edited by Rob, just AAT stuff remains] A girl i used to know had unusual feet. The toes beside the big toe were joined together almost completely basically making her feet flippers. I also remember another case of this in a boy who i took karate class with. I can't remember seeing his feet i just remember him showing them off with a tone of embarassment in a dojo full of barefooted boys and girls. Could these be flipper-like appendages naturally selected in an aquatic/land environment?
More on AAP: Whether or not all humans originate from an aquatic environment will be hard to verify but due to what we do know about humans and water, most noteably the curious fact that a very young baby is at home in a pool full of water (apparently only after we become accustomed to land do we forget how to swim) it must be true that humans are at least not strangers to aquatic environments.
The matter of nutrients is crucial to the evolutuionary 'jumps' from a chimp-type ancestor to the Homo line. It is seafoods which are the key and there is plenty of published material to refer to. See my books on my website : sondela.co.uk
hum this is a theory and like any theory its relative and not absolute so it maybe true or just wrong. hum ... even the evolution theory is relativ ... no?
- so i thinks it may be probable but we need
- more proof ...an then the aquatic ape that appear before sapien ...
- I hear strange things like homo sapien sapien skull is more litle than homo sapien one and the neanderthale one and when the sapien x 2 appear the homo sapien x1 and the neanderthal diseapear mysteriously and civilisation quickqly appear from just litle farming they went to building huge cities and a formidable knownledge .
- Is that true or just a lies.
It seems almost self-evident that mankind would have had to evolve within or near to water. Certainly the savannah I would have thought is too daunting a place for an animal, which has soft feet and cannot run fast. Neither can it climb sufficiently well to escape predation. Tools such as spears would have been just as useful in a costal environment as in a savannah. Tool evolution could occur more rapidly on the coast.
- There is one other peculiarity we have. Why pubic hair when few if no animals have hair in such a region? Indeed no sea mammals do either. Was that developed later once land was regained and if so why? Pheromones and increased sexual bonding? [from Rob Bast: if we had spent longer in the sea, all of our hair would have gone, but we didn't. Our remaining hair "flows" in a streamlined way...]
When you want to talk about evolutionary theories you have to know what it means.
- It's a natural selection and have to be an advantage. Walking on 2 feet is in an open area not an advantage. Besides that you have to compare the genes, there is no match at all. The same goes for the mass of the brains.
- No furry coat means also no protection from the sun in these open areas.
The AAH, currently modified as the wading ape hypothesis, is indeed the model of the early evolution, which now has the most arguments on its side. There has been written much on this topic, mainly on the level of popular science. The first work in this field matching real scientific quality criteria is the award winning master thesis of Algis Kuliakis. It is to be read at www.riverapes.com. He invented falsification criteria and made the proof.
- But the AAH does not implicate a flooding necessarily. Primate evolution is to be seen slightly different to that of other animals. This diffenrence is culture. The famous Macaca macaca population at Koshima island in Japan shows, that a change of the ecological niche does not always need a change in environment. Since 1954 those japan macaces - formerly mainly terrestric - invented the washing of food (first in fresh water, then in salt water), swimming, diving, eating seafood and fish. This change in behavior is not inherited, but spread from generation to generation by learning and tradition. These monkeys have evolved a new kind of living - not forced by cataclysms, just because they wanted to do so. And this change in life style changes the selection.
- Taking into consideration that our ancestors were at least as intelligent as modern japan macaces, this special pattern of evolution might have occured as well as a forced change of the environment by nature.
Rob, please read all the comments here - especially curious college student and isabella and (minding her poor grammar) rita.
- You have some good information here but there are many misconceptions about the nature of evolution which need to be corrected for your work to be convincing.
- If you would like some help editing your work to be more scientifically accurate feel free to email me.
- Please also see my other comments throughout your site.
Re: the two-legged argument - have you ever seen a cow hold a knife?
The Critical Skeptic:
The Critical Skeptic:
20 of 55 comments (part 2) [
] [ *
The comments section is now closed, but you can still email me, or even
better, visit 2012 Forum
Script by Alex
 Few authors have contributed to this
idea, therefore most of this information has been gleaned from the excellent books
of Elaine Morgan, and she got her ideas from Sir Alistair Hardy
 Probably Origin of Species.
 Probably Origin of Species
 The Scars of Evolution: What our bodies
tell us about human origins, Elaine Morgan, Penguin 1990, p135-140
 The Scars of Evolution: What our bodies
tell us about human origins, Elaine Morgan, Penguin 1990, p146-147
 The Scars of Evolution: What our bodies
tell us about human origins, Elaine Morgan, Penguin 1990, p148-151
 The Scars of Evolution: What our bodies
tell us about human origins, Elaine Morgan, Penguin 1990, p148-151