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kucharek
2003-Nov-11, 10:13 AM
Yesterday in the tram, a man at the next seat read a "scientific" magazine and I spotted it was an article about the Aquatic Ape Theory.
Never heard of that before, but google (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Aquatic+Ape+Theory%22) for it and you may have plenty of fun.

Harald

PS: And I just recognize that it is just the 11.11 at 11:11 and this is the official start for the carnival season in Germany. Currently plenty of drunken people in silly clothes, wearing silly hats, will celebrate on marketplaces in cities like Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mainz.

Amadeus
2003-Nov-11, 11:11 AM
I read about this theory in the book "science of discworld" by terry prachett. I states that early man moved along the coast of Africa.

jokergirl
2003-Nov-11, 01:28 PM
I've heard about it in a 6-part TV series on the evolution of humans (and other stuff, I wish I could remember who did it, because it was great!). Basically, it says that since the hair of humans falls in a different order than that of other apes, the evolution of humans must have involved living around water for some time or some junk like that. Hmm... I wonder why we aren't amphibian then, it couldn't have taken much longer evolution-wise? But of course I am just a dabbler in biology (I've heard I should get a life, but I don't know where to download it?) and have no idea on the validity of that thory.

Happy carnival! (Or whatever you Germans say to that - hey, I just live here! =; )

;)

captain swoop
2003-Nov-11, 01:34 PM
Not as popular as it was a few years ago, Not realy a theory, there isn't that much evidence apart from a few ad-hoc and post-hoc reasons for various parts of the anatomy being the way they are. Unfortunately there are more parts that can be used against the 'theory. Only a small number of fanatics think there is anything in it. Even the talk origins faq can only point to a few old web links.

NASA Fan
2003-Nov-11, 01:52 PM
Going off subject for a moment.

I assume that I see the same ads at the bottom that everyone else sees. I do not know if it is still there, but I found it amusing when I saw that one of the ads at the bottom of this thread is for bullitin boards that are add free. :lol:

Edit, now that I posted this, the ad changed.

Back on topic:

I've never heard of that theory. I suppose that like any other theory about early man, that it is hard to prove anything.

kucharek
2003-Nov-11, 02:00 PM
Yep. The ads are pretty context sensitive. I mentioned a few German cities in my initial postings and now there are ads for hotels in these cities appearing.

ToSeek
2003-Nov-11, 03:26 PM
Alistair Hardy developed the initial theory, which was popularized by Elaine Morgan in her book The Descent of Woman. I was intrigued by it for a while because it does explain some distinctive human characteristics (hairlessness, the common fear of spiders and snakes, babies knowing how to swim, our layer of subcutaneous fat), but there are still problems with it. Most notably, if we were aquatic for a while, why isn't our skin as impervious to water as, say, seals or dolphins? Those aquatic apes would get very wrinkled after a while!

The book is still worth reading for the job she does on the Robert Ardrey (sp?) school of anthropology, where male characteristics are all due to their need to be Mighty Hunters, and all the female characteristics have no survival justification other than to attract males.

Amadeus
2003-Nov-11, 03:31 PM
I like the theory for the following reasons...

It might explain why babies can swim from birth but take longer to crawl or walk.

Fish is brain food.

Surfing apes sound cool. :lol:

Reacher
2003-Nov-11, 05:04 PM
Can you imagine a humanoid in the water? Not cool. It wouldn't last.

mutineer
2003-Nov-11, 06:18 PM
It is difficult to see how all the points assembled to back the Aquatic Theory can be explained away.

(Aquatic Ape Theory) conforms to current theories of speciation better than the savannah origins model, and accounts for a number of diverse phenomena hitherto not seen as connected.
I strongly recommend Elaine Morgan's "Aquatic Ape Theory". It is thought-provoking and a great read. Even if you do not believe it, you will be the wiser.
In the end, I don't go along with the theory. In a couple of other threads on this BB, I have referred to humans as "River Apes" - which I think is the better description.
But the Aquatic Ape Theory IS to the taken seriously, as my quotations suggest. If you enjoyed reading "The Naked Ape", you'll almost certainly enjoy Elaine Morgan's book.

informant
2003-Nov-11, 06:30 PM
I was intrigued by it for a while because it does explain some distinctive human characteristics (hairlessness, the common fear of spiders and snakes, babies knowing how to swim, our layer of subcutaneous fat)
Those things are only significant if they don't occur in other species. Are ape babies capable of swimming too? Are apes afraid of spiders and snakes?
Hairlessness and the layer of subcutaneous fat would seem to explain each other.

Astronot
2003-Nov-11, 06:49 PM
Seems to me that the subcutaneous fat also aids in buoyancy, thus swimming. Watching my children swim as infants, I observed that they appeared to be exercising an instinct of learning to crawl. Since they could not support their own body weight, they never made similar motions when they were out of the water.

Swimming by itself would do little good, because if a child that could not crawl were in water, there would be know way for it to get out even if it could swim.

From my sample of two, that is my hypothesis, and Iím stickiní to it. :)

Mig
2003-Nov-11, 07:32 PM
I have a slightly better than vague recollection of the Aquatic Ape idea.

It does seem to me, that our predecessors lives would have had to be intensely aguatic, over a very long time, for that lifestyle to have been incorporated ( in its literal sense). A physical reflection of a species' surroundings, of course, does not develop overnight.

I may lack imagination, but I can't picture a scenario in which the evolutionary pressures would have built to such a degree as to actually begin selecting for an aquatic environment. We are, after all, land creatures; and not too accomplished, unadorned, in that environment, either. A watery existence would have been infinitely more hazardous -- we, poor creatures, sans any really beneficial adaptations for water-life like: large lungs, bigger "scoopier" (ha, I kind of like that... scoopier, scoopier...) hands and feet, etc.

While certainly, something has selected for a generous layer of sub-cu adipose (and some of us "benefit" more than others) and something has controlled or dictated the distribution of that layer, none of that suggests to me an animal made for the water. All that seemingly derived bouyancy would do is get the adventurous farther downstream, or farther out to sea, where they would still drown like rats.

A few water phobias? Naw. Quite the opposite, I think.

However, any theory that proposes to illuminate the... uh, morphology and attributes, of the female human form is deserving of our consideration. :D

Perhaps I am missing something. Anybody with ideas as to how this could have come about, please post. As a non-swimmer, I would like to think that I am just fighting my nature and that there is still hope for me if I happen to fall out of a boat...


By the way, can't most animals-- mammals, anyway-- swim at birth, or any other time, if the need arises?

Myself excluded, of course.

Eroica
2003-Nov-11, 08:20 PM
I like the theory for the following reasons... It might explain why babies can swim from birth but take longer to crawl or walk.
Perhaps floating around in a womb for nine months could explain that! :D

And don't forget the webbing we have between our fingers. Apes don't have that.

ToSeek
2003-Nov-11, 08:34 PM
I was intrigued by it for a while because it does explain some distinctive human characteristics (hairlessness, the common fear of spiders and snakes, babies knowing how to swim, our layer of subcutaneous fat)
Those things are only significant if they don't occur in other species. Are ape babies capable of swimming too?

"most large primates such as gorillas and orangutans cannot swim" (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcamelswim.html)



Hairlessness and the layer of subcutaneous fat would seem to explain each other.

That's insufficient: there should be an evolutionary reason why we're the only large primate with no hair and lots of fat. Conceivably, it could just be some sort of genetic drift, but that seems highly unlikely.

gethen
2003-Nov-11, 08:41 PM
I'm not sure why, if we are descended from aquatic apes, that makes us afraid of spiders. Shouldn't we be afraid of goldfish or clams? And not all of us are afraid of spiders.

mike alexander
2003-Nov-11, 09:06 PM
Well, my cat is wary of snakes. Leave a vacuum cleaner hose out and he will get all antsy and stalk it, back and hair up.

Hairlessness. Better thermoregulation for an upright, running ape? Have to remember that humans are the only truly bipedal apes. We can run for hours (when we are in shape, of course. which brings me to...)

Fat storage. Have to first make certain comparisons. a) how fat are humans in a primitive, hunter/gatherer environment? b) how fat do great apes get in a sedentary environment? (I don't know).

eljefelopez
2003-Nov-11, 09:16 PM
I think the thermoregulation is also tied into the need to provide additional means of heat dissipation to maintain the larger human brain. Read something about that recently - I'll have to go digging.

Mig
2003-Nov-11, 09:33 PM
Mike Alexander wrote:


Fat storage. Have to first make certain comparisons. a) how fat are humans in a primitive, hunter/gatherer environment? b) how fat do great apes get in a sedentary environment? (I don't know).

Hi Mike. Yes the fat serves a purpose. Or so I like to tell people.

Its the distribution that seems quirky. A womans breasts are, objectively, a little odd. A sequelae from the aquatic ape theory, as I recall, is the breasts allow women to float up-right in a watery environment.

Make of that what you will. I still have a hard time understanding the extent to which we may have been aquatic.

Reacher
2003-Nov-11, 09:35 PM
Keep mentioning breasts, I want to see the outcome on the Google ads. :D

Mig
2003-Nov-11, 09:40 PM
=D>

Ha! Who says generating revenue can't be fun.

ocasey3
2003-Nov-11, 10:11 PM
Hominid speciation from the other apes happened over 5 million years ago, which is plenty of time for unique characteristic to develop. As for breast size, I think that humans have been actively selecting larger breasts in mates for a loooooong time. 8)

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Nov-11, 10:14 PM
Actually, no. It's quite recent. Even the Romans preferred a smaller size.

ocasey3
2003-Nov-11, 10:22 PM
Actually, no. It's quite recent. Even the Romans preferred a smaller size.

Notice the little smiley next to my statement? Any way loooooong is sort of a relative term. 8)

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Nov-11, 10:30 PM
Hmmm... I was thinking long in terms of evolutionary timescales, sorry.

mike alexander
2003-Nov-12, 01:21 AM
Don't forget mate selection as an evolutionary driving force. Structures that may make no sense any other way (peacock tails) may have something to do with mate selection. As the human lineage moved from quadrupedal to upright bipedal, different opportunities for display also arose.

Kebsis
2003-Nov-12, 02:24 AM
Actually, no. It's quite recent. Even the Romans preferred a smaller size.

true, but the Romans prefered dudes, too.

ocasey3
2003-Nov-12, 02:52 AM
Actually, no. It's quite recent. Even the Romans preferred a smaller size.

true, but the Romans prefered dudes, too.

Yeah, what Kebis said! =D>

Seriously though, Women's "preffered" breast size is probably as fluid as any fasion trend, so to speak. But having said that, it seems rather logical to think that pre-historic humans or even hominids before homo sapiens sapiens may have selected for larger breasts because of the implied benefit , more food for offspring. And that has a great deal to do with being upright and this feature being readily visible as mike alexander was saying in his post.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Nov-12, 03:01 AM
I remember hearing somewhere that there is a theory that says that (and this gets kind of graphic) when humans began to mate face-to-face rather than... the other way, breasts looked like buttocks to the males and made it seem like "normal" mating behaviour to them.

I wish I could remember were I saw that so I could cite it. Maybe National Geographic... :-?

Kebsis
2003-Nov-12, 04:12 AM
Desmond Morris mentioned it in at least one of his documentaries.

captain swoop
2003-Nov-12, 09:05 AM
If you want a good and lively discussion on the Aguatic Ape theory, nip over to talk.origins on Usenet, we are always after someone other than fundy Creationists to liven things up.

there are a lot of highly qualified and knowledgeable people over there.

Reacher
2003-Nov-12, 11:14 AM
I beleive I may have read somewhere that women with more prominent cheekbones and more pouty lips have better survival genes, so it's natural to find them attractive.

Kind of like how all white-haired ragdoll cats have blue eyes, or something like that. I saw it on a vet show here, and I imagine it's linked to that.

informant
2003-Nov-12, 11:22 AM
Those things are only significant if they don't occur in other species. Are ape babies capable of swimming too?

"most large primates such as gorillas and orangutans cannot swim" (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcamelswim.html)
I said ape babies. And, curiously, that very website also says that the aquatic ape theory is just plain wrong (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/maquaticape.html).


there should be an evolutionary reason why we're the only large primate with no hair and lots of fat. Conceivably, it could just be some sort of genetic drift, but that seems highly unlikely.
In a sense, evolution is made of improbabilities...

OT...


[...]the Romans prefered dudes, too.
I don't think so. AFAIK, they weren't that much different from us, in that respect. Only a bit less closeted.

Daro
2003-Nov-12, 04:50 PM
I feel bad that I dont have time to read this entire thread....or any of it.

I couple years ago I came accross the below link.
Last year we had to do evolution in school (Year 10) and i kicked up a fuss that we disregaurd this theory all together. I think students should learn about competing theories.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A730531

ToSeek
2003-Nov-12, 05:50 PM
Those things are only significant if they don't occur in other species. Are ape babies capable of swimming too?

"most large primates such as gorillas and orangutans cannot swim" (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcamelswim.html)
I said ape babies.

If the grownups can't swim, I assume the babies can't, either. I'm just playing devil's advocate, anyway - I've read enough to conclude that it's an unlikely hypothesis.

ToSeek
2003-Nov-12, 05:52 PM
I beleive I may have read somewhere that women with more prominent cheekbones and more pouty lips have better survival genes, so it's natural to find them attractive.



And women with slender waists compared with their hips are generally more fertile.

informant
2003-Nov-12, 06:47 PM
If the grownups can't swim, I assume the babies can't, either. I'm just playing devil's advocate, anyway [...]
Well, the things is that babies seem to be instinctly capable of swimming. Human adults can learn to swim if they want to, but many adults never learn. Besides, body weight could be an important factor...

mike alexander
2003-Nov-13, 04:36 AM
So far I have some trouble buying the various interpretations of human gender attractiveness. I've mentioned before that if being beautiful is a 'survival trait' we should all be beautiful by now. And if you mix in cultural effects...

Think of the rise and fall (and rise again?) of the skin tan in Caucasians as a mark of attractiveness.

In a social animal, the attraction function may be so complex that there is no reliable way to single out any one dominant trait.

Daro
2003-Nov-13, 08:16 AM
Didnt The Human Body hosted by Robert Winston (or something) say that more beutiful humans are more fertile.
I definately remember him say tyhat more handsome males are more likely top have a higher sperm count

...but in different societies different traits are seen to make someone beutiful.

...I think.

Amadeus
2003-Nov-13, 11:31 AM
I remember hearing somewhere that there is a theory that says that (and this gets kind of graphic) when humans began to mate face-to-face rather than... the other way, breasts looked like buttocks to the males and made it seem like "normal" mating behaviour to them.

I wish I could remember were I saw that so I could cite it. Maybe National Geographic... :-?

I have also heard by scientists (who should get out more!) That men prefer pouty lips because it reminds them of another part of the womens anotomy! If this was the case... wouldn't women with beards be more attractive? :lol:

informant
2003-Nov-13, 12:11 PM
I remember hearing somewhere that there is a theory that says that (and this gets kind of graphic) when humans began to mate face-to-face rather than... the other way, breasts looked like buttocks to the males and made it seem like "normal" mating behaviour to them.

I wish I could remember were I saw that so I could cite it. Maybe National Geographic... :-?
Desmond Morris, probably in The Naked Ape.

Reacher
2003-Nov-13, 02:30 PM
:o Amadeus! :o

captain swoop
2003-Nov-13, 03:48 PM
I have heard? scientists say??


Come on folks, you can do better.

Amadeus
2003-Nov-13, 03:48 PM
:o Amadeus! :o

I'am sorry... so sorry.... cannot begin to explain how sorry I am..... If I was Japanese I would commit Hari Kari to prove my sorryness.... :lol:
:oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

At least I tried to keep the point clean.... It could have been a LOT worse. :lol:


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p.s.... Sorry

kucharek
2003-Nov-13, 04:00 PM
It's hara-kiri (belly-cutting), but hara-kiri is the rude word for what is actually called seppuku (cut belly). It is writen with the same two japanese characters, just in reverse order.

Harald

Amadeus
2003-Nov-13, 04:03 PM
It's hara-kiri (belly-cutting), but hara-kiri is the rude word for what is actually called seppuku (cut belly). It is writen with the same two japanese characters, just in reverse order.

Harald

It's just not my day today :(

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'am very sorry Japan..........

Bawheid
2003-Nov-13, 04:41 PM
:o Amadeus! :o

I'am sorry... so sorry.... cannot begin to explain how sorry I am..... If I was Japanese I would commit Hari Kari to prove my sorryness.... :lol:
:oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

At least I tried to keep the point clean.... It could have been a LOT worse. :lol:


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
p.s.... Sorry

That was also the original purpose of lipstick, as used by Phoenicians. It's not rude, it's history. :roll:

Amadeus
2003-Nov-13, 04:49 PM
That was also the original purpose of lipstick, as used by Phoenicians. It's not rude, it's history. :roll:

Thanks for backing me up here. I was begining to doubt myself!

informant
2003-Nov-13, 04:51 PM
As curious as such theories may be, I have to wonder what they're based on.

Bawheid
2003-Nov-13, 04:57 PM
In the case of lipstick, a Roman writer's tirade about the decadence of Egyptians. Can't remember the source. :(

Mediocrites "Book of Rude Foreigners" possibly. :D

I suppose this makes me a Bad Historian.

Amadeus
2003-Nov-13, 05:01 PM
In the case of lipstick, a Roman writer's tirade about the decadence of Egyptians. Can't remember the source. :(

Mediocrites "Book of Rude Foreigners" possibly. :D

I suppose this makes me a Bad Historian.

You gotta love those Egyptians! :lol:

Ilya
2003-Nov-13, 05:02 PM
There are more arguments for the "Aquatic Ape" theory than presented so far. The one I find most persuasive is voluntary breath holding. Almost all mammals have breath holding reflex - they stop inhaling when submerged, - but voluntarily holding breath when out of the water is unique to cetaceans, seals... and humans. Not even beavers or otters can do that, let alone apes. It's a very "aquatic" adaptation.

A less scientific argument is the fact that humans are the only primates which enjoy water. Apes and monkeys can swim, or at least can be taught to swim, but they don't like it. They will only swim if they have to. Humans OTOH enter water for pleasure.

informant
2003-Nov-13, 05:04 PM
What about Japanese snow monkeys (http://gojapan.about.com/library/special/blmonkey.htm)?

Ilya
2003-Nov-13, 05:05 PM
What about those Japanese monkeys?\

Correct. I should have said just "apes" rather than "apes and monkeys".

ocasey3
2003-Nov-13, 05:06 PM
What about those Japanese monkeys?

You mean the snow macaques (sp?) that love the hot springs? Hot springs sound really good about now! 8)

informant
2003-Nov-13, 05:12 PM
I've edited my post to include a link to a picture. See above.

Amadeus
2003-Nov-13, 05:14 PM
What about Japanese snow monkeys (http://gojapan.about.com/library/special/blmonkey.htm)?

Do they like water per say? or is it only the hot springs. Just wondering if they feel the hot water is better than freezing and is the lesser of two evils.
In the photo on the link the monkey does not look like it's having a good time. In fact it appears to be hanging on to that rock for dear life :lol:

informant
2003-Nov-13, 05:28 PM
Here's a more relaxed monkey (http://www.planetark.org/envpicstory.cfm/newsid/19584). And look at these guys (http://www.toursgallery.com/snow6.jpg)!

It probably is only hot springs that they like, but who can blame them? ;)

mike alexander
2003-Nov-13, 07:42 PM
Still not buying it. Voluntary control of breathing may be a simple side effect of increased cognition capacity.

daver
2003-Nov-13, 07:42 PM
There are more arguments for the "Aquatic Ape" theory than presented so far. The one I find most persuasive is voluntary breath holding. Almost all mammals have breath holding reflex - they stop inhaling when submerged, - but voluntarily holding breath when out of the water is unique to cetaceans, seals... and humans. Not even beavers or otters can do that, let alone apes. It's a very "aquatic" adaptation.

You could argue that this is a side effect of the evolution of speech.

captain swoop
2003-Nov-14, 08:51 AM
Aquatic Ape 'theory is no more substantiated than Von Daniken and his Ancient Astronauts. it has sold some popular books but assumes it's conclusions.

Name one serious biologist that gives it any serious consideration!

ToSeek
2003-Nov-14, 05:19 PM
Aquatic Ape 'theory is no more substantiated than Von Daniken and his Ancient Astronauts. it has sold some popular books but assumes it's conclusions.

Name one serious biologist that gives it any serious consideration!

Philip Tobias and Marc Verhaegen (http://allserv.rug.ac.be/~mvaneech/Symposium.html), to name two, not to mention Sir Alister Hardy, who came up with the theory in the first place.

While I remain skeptical of it, I certainly wouldn't put it in the same category with Von Daniken.

Humphrey
2003-Nov-15, 02:37 AM
Man, i do not visit for a few days and this pops up.

Thank you Captain and Toseek for your defense of reality.

This theory is utterlly, tottaly, and without a doubt bogus in any sense. We have discussed this many times in my anthro classes. Most facts of this threory are the "Isn't it strange that we have..." and no real evidence at all. And several of the points use selective evidence.

The hairless evidence is moronic. Many sea creatures: otters, seals, polar bears, and many more have hair on their bodies and they live semi-permanently in the woter or spend long times in the water.

Also with subcutaneous fat: It is not universal around out bodies. In certain places it is much thicker than other palces. If it was really there to insulate us as the theory suggests, why don't we have universal fat storage? For boyancy idea: does not work very well then. We still have to tread water to stay afloat (well unless you eat a ton of McDonalds).

The idea of human babies having a swimming reflex as proof of the AAT is alos bogus. When set in the water it was shown that babies could not lift their head above water, but could instead tread water for aa bit untill picked up to breath. This is not very advantageous at all if we all come from water.

Im starting to rant here but there is very, very little evidence for this.

Dang. A really good site on the net about this has gone offline. I will see if i can find another one as good as it.

ToSeek
2003-Nov-15, 04:13 AM
Hypothetically speaking, what would you consider good evidence for the theory? Or, to put it another way, if the theory were true, what effects would it have on our physiognomy and on the anthropological record?

Humphrey
2003-Nov-15, 05:24 AM
Good evidence would be of course fossil record. But that is hard to find even now. once you introduce tides into it you have a bigger problem. If one of these fossils are found than some skeletal evidence would have to be shown. A different placement of the muscles and ligamentts. a lack of robusticity in the bones (no walking much on land, why need such robust bones?) and then we would have to wonder why fossils of early homo- forms were not found in the water or areas know to be under water.


In modern man? I would say good evidence would be evident in infants or childhood. That time would be the area for greatest need for adaptibility to water. Say a infant being able to swim on its own for at least a few minutes. A better form of locomotion in the water than currently. Better floatation ability in the water. Also some means to capture prey.


Hypothetically speaking if it were true we would have to examine why we left the water in the first place and why we never wen't back.


I will say that is is possible. anything is possible. I just feel strongly that it is a very remote possibility.

Eroica
2003-Nov-15, 10:16 AM
This theory is utterly, totally, and without a doubt bogus in any sense. We have discussed this many times in my anthro classes. Most facts of this threory are the "Isn't it strange that we have..." and no real evidence at all. And several of the points use selective evidence....
What about the webbing between our fingers?

Humphrey
2003-Nov-15, 07:20 PM
This theory is utterly, totally, and without a doubt bogus in any sense. We have discussed this many times in my anthro classes. Most facts of this threory are the "Isn't it strange that we have..." and no real evidence at all. And several of the points use selective evidence....
What about the webbing between our fingers?


Its not webbing unless you have a genetic defect. It does not help us swim better. Any lap swimmer will tell you that you swim far better with your hands closed and cupped than with your fingers stretched out and the "webbing" exposed. Try it out yourself. Swim one lap each with your fingers closed and open and you will feel and see the diference.

Now if there was proof that the "webbing" inbetween our fingers has shrunk from a previous incarnation that you do have something.

Eroica
2003-Nov-15, 09:41 PM
Okay, so it's not webbing. But it is something, and apes don't have it. I'm just curious about why we have it and where it came from. :-k

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Nov-15, 09:43 PM
I could just be a fluke. We have a bunch of useless flukes, like the optic nerve being on the wrong side of the retina. Useless, detrimental, even. But we still have it.

eljefelopez
2003-Nov-16, 12:11 AM
I always hate to resort to lack of fossil record for an argument, but with the extensive fossil record in areas that aren't exactly conducive to aquatic humanoids, and the paucity of the fossil record in known aquatic areas, where sedimentation (particularly in a shallow sea) tends to enhance the fossil record, that all seems to point in the direction of land-based evolution.

The liveliest current debate appears to be whether it was a single, late migration from Africa or multiregional evolution. Geneticists tend to prefer the theory of a single migration from Africa occurring after earlier migrations.

Hat Monster
2003-Nov-16, 01:27 PM
I can think of a few quick reasons for the "webbing" off the top of my head.

1. Social. Our hands are extremely social. They're an important tool for gesturing. Social features do evolve. Our eyes are white, but check a gorilla.
2. Better tactile feedback when manipulating tools. The skin on our hands is very loose compared, say, our legs. This gives us a better sense of touch, which is obviously important.
3. Genetic drift. Somewhere along the line the gene for loose skin on the hands was favoured.

Any use of "webbing" for AA theory must explain why our feet are so useless for swimming. If our hands have evolved for aquatic environment, why haven't our feet? Why did we lose the tail - tails are very useful for stability when swimming? Why can we not close our nostrils? Why are our nostrils angled downwards? Why have we lost most of our hair but for that in the most inefficient place of all for swimming? Why is swimming so strenuous compared to walking? Why are our eyes positioned so that when swimming, we have to bend our necks to shift their direction 90 degrees if we want to see where we're going?

AA theory is a load of drivel. It holds about as much water (forgive the pun) as Velikovsky's venusian garbage.

H@

pteranodon
2003-Nov-17, 04:26 PM
I expect some woo woo claiming our ancerstors could fly because we have planes, helicopters, hang gliders, et cetera.

mike alexander
2003-Nov-17, 11:44 PM
Webbing makes it easier to loosen tight jar lids; gives a better grip. This proves that intelligence is directly related to putting olives in martinis.

Humphrey
2003-Nov-17, 11:52 PM
Webbing makes it easier to loosen tight jar lids; gives a better grip. This proves that intelligence is directly related to putting olives in martinis.

Or penutbutter on sandwiches.

Humphrey
2003-Nov-17, 11:56 PM
So now that it has been shown the rediculousness of this theory, why do so many people believe in it?

Its not like other theories like evolution or how birds gained flight. Those require some academic learning and biological thought to show how they happen and why they are correct. This theory can be easily proven wrong with just standard evidence gained by viewing the real world and themselves. Experience itself shows this theory to be wrong.

Heck i would give more credit to a person who believes planet X than this one since to disprove planet x you need knoledge of history and some astronomy.

Soor Mr. Desmond Morris, but while you know a ton about the human animal, you don't know its history.

mutineer
2003-Nov-19, 09:56 PM
I am baffled by the sheer hostility to AAT. Like ToSeek, I am actually profoundly skeptical of the theory, but as he says, this is not von Daniken-style nonsense.

So am I missing something?

It is a long time since I read Elaine Morgan's book, and I would be more confident writing this if it were fresher in my mind. I remember reading it with relish - as one does when one is confronted with a theory and what appears to be supporting evidence, and one has to work out how much to believe. (There are, after all, rather a lot of good history books of that sort.) There were, I seem to remember, two or three things that seemed weak or plain wrong, and would have been better left out. But it was wonderfully thought-provoking. Along with other things I read, it led me to think how far our ancestors had been creatures of the river bank.

I don't recall anyone reacting with hostility towards Ms Morgan at the time her book was published. She proclaimed herself not to have an academic background - but her book was widely praised by many that did. Not that they agreed with it. Most plainly few accepted it in entirety. But they found it to be an exciting contribution to the debate. I believe it moved that debate forward. Certainly the views of many have changed since - even if not directly in Ms Morgan's direction.

Have the critics of AAT actually read Ms Morgan's book? Did they turn each page with more sickening distaste? If so, then I would say that their critical faculties needed retuning.

I can assure Humphrey that Dr Desmond Morris has an interest in and a profound knowledge of human evolution.

So I repeat, am I missing something? Missing something through being on this side of the pond, perhaps? Is AAT, in some form, being touted in the US media by various promotors of popular bad science? If that is the case, then the hostility would perhaps be explained.

It should not put people off reading a good book. In fact, I am going to find my copy (buried deep somewhere) and re-read it. If I change my mind about it, I shall let you know.

Humphrey
2003-Nov-19, 10:29 PM
I have not read her book, but in my class we read long reviews (about a dozen pages each, or more) on both sides (pro and con) of her book. Plus i have seen several documentries by her and others on the subject.

I agree that debating about it is fine and should be encouraged. But over the years it has been shown to be absolutely false. If new evidence shows up more discussion can happen. I just feel that untill then she does not have a leg to stand on.

I really wish the site i had visited didn't go offline. It was a very good review of Ms. Morgan's book. And this was from a historian and a resercher, not a hard lined evolutionist.

Well the site's link was: http://aquaticape.topcities.com/firstpage.html
Incase it comes back. It was by Jim Moore.

here is another link i used in writing a paper for the class. It gives links on the subject: http://www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/aquatic.html
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/5168/aat.html
http://www.dc.peachnet.edu/~pgore/geology/historical_lab/evolutionlab.htm this is one i just recently found. It gives both sides information.

Straghit dope: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/maquaticape.html


To be fair: here is a leaflet produced for Ms. Morgan on AAT. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/5168/aat/leaflet.html
I serched for more articles by Ms. Morgan, but could not find any on yahoo that was not a reprint of this leaflett.

Anthrosciguy
2003-Nov-22, 01:37 AM
I'm Jim Moore, mentioned in an above post -- I have a web site which provides a scientific critique of the Aquatic Ape theory. The link listed above is no longer valid, since I've moved the site to new webspace and have a domain name for it (http://www.aquaticape.org/). Check it out for info about the AAT.

I'll just make a few points here. Some of the points made in this thread are incorrect. For instance, our distribution of fat -- where and when we have it -- hammer home the conclusion that human fat characterisitics are due to sexual selection. For instance: Males and females differ in their fat distribution and amount of fat; the dramatic differences between males and females, and in the amount of fat we have, happens at puberty (just like our hair differences, and sweat differences). In fact all those things -- fat, hair, and sweat -- are often cited as support for the AAT but in fact just scream "sexual selection". The fact that we have more fat than wild primates is no doubt due to the fact that we can get away with it. Animals which don't suffer much predation can, and will, get fatter. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, and has been supported by studies by many researchers, including Caroline Pond, who is perhaps the expert in the evolutionary significance of fat.

All infant mammals have the "swimming response" -- although AAT proponents ignore this, it's been known for over 60 years now (in fact it was pointed out in the very paper many of them cite in claiming it's uniquely human -- it's on the same page, even). Likewise, all animals exhibit the "diving response" (also known for decades before Alister Hardy first claimed otherwise). It's not true that only humans among terrestrial mammals can hold their breath voluntarily -- in fact untrained dogs are somewhat better at it than untrained humans. Whales and seals, btw, do not hold their breath when they dive -- they exhale and collapse their lungs, and their oxygen is held in incredibly myoglobin-rich blood. That's how they keep from getting the bends.

There's lots of other info like this on my site, as well as pages showing the way AAT proponents make their claims by ignoring contrary evidence, altering quotes, saying a researchers says one thing when they actually said the opposite, and just plain making stuff up. BTW, Marc Verhaegen is not a biologist, eminent or otherwise; he's a medical doctor who does a lot of very poor research and writing on the subject of the AAT. I haven't got too much on my site about his many articles yet -- I will, but it's just an awful lot of work. Sample Verhaegen "fact": the rhinoceros is an aquatic animal. I'll be getting to more of his claims as I add to my site.

In short, the AAT should be classed as either pseudoscience or just incredibly poorly done science.

Anthrosciguy
2003-Nov-22, 01:41 AM
BTW, specifically regarding the AAT leaflet mentioned, I've got a page with the facts about the falsehoods on that leaflet. You can go directly to it here. (http://www.aquaticape.org/leaflist.html)

Humphrey
2003-Nov-22, 05:43 AM
A very warm welcome to the board. :-D
Thank you very much for the updated links. I apreciate it.

Also Don't forget that in several studies of infants swimming ability they cannot lift their heads out of the water to take a breath. So the swimming ability won't be worth much. #-o


added: Oh yah. I also would like the thank you for all of the work you put into your site. :-)

captain swoop
2003-Nov-24, 09:26 AM
Good site.

Project Orion
2004-Dec-20, 06:35 AM
I too was surprised at the animosity towards this hypothesis. There are a lot of false assumptions represented here and misunderstandings. It isn't definitively proven but then neither is the Savannah Hypothesis. AAT doesn't even present itself as a rival to the Savannah Hypthesis. It fills in a gaping hole presented by the more popular theory. Why humans diverged from Chimpanzee's. I wish more people had read Desmond Morris's "The Naked Ape" and Elain Morgan's "Aquatic Ape Theory". I still have them on my book shelf.

In my youth the question of human origins was an obsession and the Savannah hypothesis clearly didn't make any sense on its own. Intelligence, tool making, loss of body hair in favour of subcutaneous fat, vocal communication and other assorted changes are intriguing but the one adaptation which seriously stands out is our bipedalism. Why did we go through the long and painful struggle to become two legged? School books tell us that early humans stood up straight to see over the tall grass and a bipedal gait just sort of followed on. That's ridiculous! Do Babboons or Gorilla's who came down from the trees long before us use a natural bipedal gait? Does any other mammal for that matter? No. Someone pointed out that bipedalism is a natural occurence favourable to survival. Yes, for sprinting. In case you hadn't noticed humans are weight for weight one of the slowest mammals in the animal kingdom. Chimpanzee's move faster than us on their four limbs.

Our bipedalism wasn't the result of wanting more speed. It slowed us down if anything. Lots of animals stand on their hind legs to see over tall grass, before promptly falling back down to four legs. No, our bipedalism was forced on us by a shift in the environment.

At the same time as we diverged from Chimpanzees the sea levels rose flooding north east Africa, particularly in the Afar Triangle situated in modern Ethiopia. Apes undoubtedly lived there. The common ancestor to us and Chimps. Many would have died but the lucky and strong survived. The environment became similar to that of the Amazon today.

There seems to be a lot of confusion here from members. We didn't sprout fins and gills. We didn't live in water. However, our ancestors had to frequently cross water in seach of food. They inhabited lots of small islands and as local food supplies dwindled they had to frequently move on. Many would have perished early on. Survival was based on luck and ofcourse favoured those genetically better equipped to survive. Thick coats of fur absorbed water and no doubt caused many to perish from the cold come nightfall. However, fatter apes were better able to keep warm through the night.

To get across the water they would have tried to wade. Their hunger overcoming their natural fear of water. Wading is identical to human walking. The water would have aided this but it would still have been difficult. Those who learned to keep their heads up, stick to the shallows and cross before a predator grabbed them survived.

Hunger would have forced them to try novel new sources of food. Anything that washed up on a shore would have seemed appetising to starving apes and fish is a very high protein diet. Shells would have required a rock to open them. Just as otters demonstrate today. Our ancestors were certainly as smart as Otters. This would have been the first stone tool. As we became more adept at crossing water and gradually became accustomed to it we might tried using long pointed sticks to 'spear' fish. Just as Chimps use twigs to 'spear' termites today. These weapons would later prove just as useful on the Savannah.

Several times the sea levels shifted over the long millenia. Sometimes producing temporary land bridges. No doubt the wandering early humans would have used these to leave the area. This would explain the waves of different hominids who appear suudenly in the fossil record. Finally the sea level dropped for the last time(until now atleast) and modern humans, the last wave were forced to go in search of water.

Humans have far more sweat glands than other apes. Clearly we can't survive without frequent infusions of water. This is not a good way for Savannah dwelling Apes to be. Our relatives the Gorilla's and Chimps don't even drink water. They get all the water they need from fruit.

Today you only have to look around to see that Human's are still semi-aquatic. The best Real estate is always River front or Sea front situated. In Asia and other parts of the world fish still makes up the staple diet. We love water and take this fact for granted as a given. Other Apes are afraid of water.

The difference between us and other Apes is comparable to the difference between Stoats and Otters. Ofcourse, smaller animals don't lose their fur when they choose a semi-aquatic existance. Stoats breed doggy style and have a habit of biting the females while mating. Otters still carry this gentically programmed behaviour unfortunately. They breed face to face and come mating season the females have bloody noses.

By the way, there is only one other animal on Earth which is truly bipedal like us with its skull situated directly above its spine and not using a tail to balance itelf. The penguin. A semi-aquatic bird.

That's all I'm going to say. There is some evidence for AAT but in the past Ethiopia hasn't been easy for establishing digs. I hope to one day finance an excavation on Danikil island(a natural hill and not an island in the sens of being surrounded with water) which looks to be a promising location for our 'missing link'.

Careless
2004-Dec-20, 09:04 AM
In case you hadn't noticed humans are weight for weight one of the slowest mammals in the animal kingdom. Chimpanzee's move faster than us on their four limbs.

Our bipedalism wasn't the result of wanting more speed. It slowed us down if anything. Lots of animals stand on their hind legs to see over tall grass, before promptly falling back down to four legs. No, our bipedalism was forced on us by a shift in the environment.
Right, it's not about speed. It's about endurance. While humans are slow, we're pretty good at covering long distances.

sidmel
2004-Dec-20, 03:01 PM
Another thing to consider. Seems like most everyone is comparing our hariless ness to other primates in regards to the Aquatic Ape, but it seems we should take a look at mammals at large, especially other aquatic mammals. I.E., otters, beavers, seals, platypus & water rats, all of which have retained their hair, though they have minor modifications making the hairs more oily and/or hollow. The only other 'bald mammals' are the whale, dolphin and manitoo families who spend 'all' their life in water.

ToSeek
2004-Dec-20, 03:49 PM
Another thing to consider. Seems like most everyone is comparing our hariless ness to other primates in regards to the Aquatic Ape, but it seems we should take a look at mammals at large, especially other aquatic mammals. I.E., otters, beavers, seals, platypus & water rats, all of which have retained their hair, though they have minor modifications making the hairs more oily and/or hollow. The only other 'bald mammals' are the whale, dolphin and manitoo families who spend 'all' their life in water.

Pigs.
Naked mole rats.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-20, 04:36 PM
Humans have far more sweat glands than other apes. Clearly we can't survive without frequent infusions of water. This is not a good way for Savannah dwelling Apes to be. Our relatives the Gorilla's and Chimps don't even drink water. They get all the water they need from fruit. .

Animals with fur have no need of sweat gland all over their bodies, the fur wouldn't let the sweat evapourate. Otters, seals, Beavers etc all have fur and get on OK without all the sweat glands. How does an evapourative cooling system benefit you when you live in the water anyway?



Today you only have to look around to see that Human's are still semi-aquatic. The best Real estate is always River front or Sea front situated. In Asia and other parts of the world fish still makes up the staple diet. We love water and take this fact for granted as a given. Other Apes are afraid of water..

I don't see how having a nice house by the river means you are semi-aquatic. In the UK the best realestate would be in places Like Kensington and Chelsea out in the Cotswolds or deep in the country, not on the sea front. When fish is the most abundant foodstuff you make it a staple. bears eat a lot of salmon but they aren't aqauatic. Because apes don't frolic in the waves doesn't mean they are afraid of water, I have seen film of Gorillas lolling in waterholes, and monkeys living on islands wading and swimming about.

Anecdotes aren't data.



The difference between us and other Apes is comparable to the difference between Stoats and Otters. Ofcourse, smaller animals don't lose their fur when they choose a semi-aquatic existance. Stoats breed doggy style and have a habit of biting the females while mating. Otters still carry this gentically programmed behaviour unfortunately. They breed face to face and come mating season the females have bloody noses..

How about Seals? they are huge and they have fur. so your comparison doesn't work and what has the Otter and Stoat mating ritual got to do with it?



By the way, there is only one other animal on Earth which is truly bipedal like us with its skull situated directly above its spine and not using a tail to balance itelf. The penguin. A semi-aquatic bird. ..

All birds are bipedal anyway, plus Penguins have 'fur' in the form of modified feathers.

sidmel
2004-Dec-20, 05:23 PM
LOL


Pigs.
Naked mole rats.

I thought I had said 'aquatic mammels', sorry if I didn't.

:D

ToSeek
2004-Dec-20, 05:47 PM
LOL


Pigs.
Naked mole rats.

I thought I had said 'aquatic mammels', sorry if I didn't.

:D

You said both "mammals" and "aquatic mammals." It wasn't entirely clear from context whether pigs belonged on your list or not. ;)

Swift
2004-Dec-20, 06:30 PM
LOL


Pigs.
Naked mole rats.

I thought I had said 'aquatic mammels', sorry if I didn't.

:D

You said both "mammals" and "aquatic mammals." It wasn't entirely clear from context whether pigs belonged on your list or not. ;)
Well, pigs like mud, I guess that makes them semi-aquatic. :wink:

Kaptain K
2004-Dec-20, 08:04 PM
Anyone who thinks pigs are hairless hasn't seen one up close!

Amadeus
2004-Dec-20, 08:59 PM
Anyone who thinks pigs are hairless hasn't seen one up close!

This is true, plus are not "pigs" domesticated Boars breed to be hairless? Like the difference between a Lion and a Sphinx cat?

01101001
2004-Dec-20, 09:04 PM
This is true, plus are not "pigs" domesticated Boars breed to be hairless? Like the difference between a Lion and a Sphinx cat?
Wart hog (http://images.fbrtech.com/dnew/Africa2000/Wart%20Hog.jpg)

I've seen hairier men in the locker room.

Project Orion
2004-Dec-21, 02:28 AM
Right, it's not about speed. It's about endurance. While humans are slow, we're pretty good at covering long distances

That's certainly a good reason for maintaing such a gait but it doesn't explain the drive to change. This didn't happen overnight. It took a very long time and wasn't a productive mode of locomotion for a very long time. We had to have been forced to adopt such a difficult posture for walking. Wading fits the bill. While no other Ape swims there are two species of monkey who exhibit great swimming prowess. One is the Proboscis monkey. It frequently wades across shallows in quite humanly fashion. Proboscis monkeys are noted for their large bulbous noses. Probably an adaptation to help keep water out of the nasal cavities. Gorilla's, Chimps, Orangutan's and Gibbon's just have two holes in their face. Only the Human Ape has a protuding nose good for keeping out water.


otters, beavers, seals, platypus & water rats, all of which have retained their hair

Smaller animals are able to maintain their hair. They are more susceptible to the cold out of water. Body fat isn't so useful for small bodies. So instead they develop waterproof coats. Larger animals like Hippo's lose their hair. Elephants, Rhino's and pigs may also have gone through a semi-aquatic stage at some point. All are exceptional swimmers and enjoy the buoyancy.


The only other 'bald mammals' are the whale, dolphin and manitoo families who spend 'all' their life in water.

Seals, sea lion's and walruses are examples of large semi-aquatic mammals, although they are certainly past the half way mark on the road to becoming completely aquatic. Some have fur and some don't.


Animals with fur have no need of sweat gland all over their bodies

Even Dolphins and Whales have sweat glands. In fact they have a lot more than land animals.


How does an evapourative cooling system benefit you when you live in the water anyway?

I have no idea. Let me know if you find out. I think they may be used by aquatics to help them through the water. Natural oils secreted through the skin lower water friction. their diet of fish ofcourse being very high in oil.


I don't see how having a nice house by the river means you are semi-aquatic.

Monkeys love tree's, birds love the sky and moles love tunnels. An animals environmental preference has deep psychological connotations. Our predisposition to watery locales is unlikely to be a random quirk of our mentality. We have always loved water. Even our oldest texts describe epic sea voyages. Fishing is the oldest known profession, except for maybe prostitution.


All birds are bipedal anyway, plus Penguins have 'fur' in the form of modified feathers.

Dinosaurs and birds while bipedal don't stand erect, except for the penguin. They use a tail to counterbalance the body. An erect bipedal gait is an extremely rare evolutionary trait currently peculiar to only two animals on Earth. Don't get too hung up on hairlessness. Evolutionary traits are not rules. Not all animals follow the same patterns when presented with environmental obstacles. It depends on the degree of time spent in water, the temperature of the region, the body mass of the animal and ofcourse it's place in the animal kingdom. Penguins are fairly small birds generally living in arctic conditions and have waterproof feathery coats.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-21, 10:55 AM
I have posted all I want to say on the subject to me there is nothing to the AAT other then coincidence and speculatuion, all the evidence I have seen can be better explained in different ways, think of Mr Occam. I refer folks to www.talkorigins.org.

skwirlinator
2004-Dec-21, 11:17 AM
Ever since that mixup on the space-time continuum the dimensional barriers between our two planets have been breaking down, Thus AAT is a valid argument, Now lets talk about that planet. Its round right
LoL

pteranodon
2004-Dec-21, 03:37 PM
Our nostrils are faced downwards, a good evolutionary evidence that our ancestors walked on earth.

tofu
2004-Dec-21, 05:05 PM
I have a hypothetical question. What if predation by Killer Whales caused sea otters to stay out of the water more and more, and eventually, they just stopped going into the water all together? If this had happened, say 1 million years ago, what evidence would we see of it today? Would be be having the same discussion that we're having now, only it would be about the Aquatic Sea Otter Theory?

2004-Dec-21, 05:32 PM
I admit that I'm an adherent to Occam's Razor, but - why do we need AAT? #-o #-o #-o #-o

I know it's only anecdote [see my sig :D ], but my "ideal" landscape is savannah-like; I cannot stand water!! :o :o :o :o

Humphrey
2004-Dec-22, 06:25 PM
Large noses are a cold adaptation, not to keep out water. The air inside the nose has a longer amount of time to warm up before it inters the body.

We have devbated this before on the pages of this thread, and the links i have given give good scientific evidence against each of major AAT theories.

So far other than sweat glands you have not shown us evidence that definitively allows AAT to be in the running as a near equal to the savanah hypotysis. Even Sweat glands could be used for both theories and is not solely in the grounds of one of them.

I do not have anamosity towards the thory, but i do believe it to be false and ignoring of certain facts (which we discussed in the links and previously.) . If evidence does come about proving it to be ture, Thats amazing and welcome. But untill definitive evidence or a hypothysis backed up by evidence comes out, then i am sorry to say, it is only a guess at how we eveolved.

2004-Dec-22, 07:34 PM
I know it's a bit off-topic, but on a science phone-in the other night, someone asked if humans who are born with six fingers are an example of our species evolving toward more efficient computer use... :o :o

Is the AAT just another form of this sort of "adaptationism" run wild?? A just-so story?? #-o #-o

Humphrey
2004-Dec-23, 12:14 AM
I hope i dont get six fingers. None of my gloves will fit!.

Careless
2004-Dec-23, 12:29 AM
I hope i dont get six fingers. None of my gloves will fit!.
I really want to see antonio alfonseca's (baseball player) glove

01101001
2004-Dec-23, 02:16 AM
I really want to see antonio alfonseca's (baseball player) glove
He (http://www.librarising.com/twelve.html) might be remarkable, but his glove (http://i.esmas.com/image/0/000/002/698/DEBE0506_AntonioGIS_N.jpg) doesn't appear to be.

Eroica
2004-Dec-23, 04:48 PM
... someone asked if humans who are born with six fingers are an example of our species evolving toward more efficient computer use... :
Evolution is blind. It does not follow premeditated designs.

Anyway, I hardly think that someone who is more efficient at using computers is more likely to produce surviving offspring than the rest of us - which is how natural selection works!

Project Orion
2005-Jan-04, 05:51 AM
Bipedal Wading in Hominoidae past and present.
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

http://www.riverapes.com/Me/Work/BipedalismThesis.htm


How does an evapourative cooling system benefit you when you live in the water anyway?

Sorry, I answered that question in the wrong manner. The question really, is how an evaporative cooling system DOESN'T benefit you in dry Savannah conditions. On the hot plains of Africa where every watering hole is a gathering place for large predators, you want to reserve water. Sweating away large amounts of water which must be replaced is not very efficient. Other Apes and in particular those living in dry parts of Africa have adapted by posessing only a small number of sweat glands. Animals that live close to water and frequently swim in it have no need for such an adaptation. They can afford to sweat a lot and consequently do.

Tofu,

I have a hypothetical question. What if predation by Killer Whales caused sea otters to stay out of the water more and more, and eventually, they just stopped going into the water all together? If this had happened, say 1 million years ago, what evidence would we see of it today? Would be be having the same discussion that we're having now, only it would be about the Aquatic Sea Otter Theory?

It's now common knowledge among Palaeontologists and Palaeobiologists that many animals have made the foray into water only to return to the land later on. In fact, its not unusual for animals to repeatedly make the switch back and forth from land to sea throughout their millions of years of evolution. Dolphins originally evolved from a dog like animal. Whales from a large land predator.

Pete,

I admit that I'm an adherent to Occam's Razor, but - why do we need AAT?

Humans are unusual animals. Of all the branches of Primates only one has adopted a bipedal gait, developed a vocal communication system, become smart enough to master fire and hunting tools and lost a great deal of hair. The environmental impact of a rising sea level is a beautiful answer to the question of what made us who we are. Nothing ever happens without cause. The path our ancestors took was not a choice. In a very short time we went from being quadrupeds to bipeds. Try teaching your cat to walk on two legs all the time and see how far you get. I suppose with bribes it might be possible to achieve some degree of success but once the kitty treats dried up the animal would immediately revert to it's natural posture. Our ancestors changed posture in a very short time evolutionary speaking. What other possible motivation could there have been to stand erect and clumsily learn to walk in such an uncomfortable position? We need to know the truth of our origins if we hope to better understand our nature. Human beings are still animals with instinctive prejudices. This is why Communism failed. The idea of sharing everything equally cannot work because Territoriality is hard wired into us. Virtually every higher living thing has a hierarchical system or pecking order. Something we only recently learned.

Found only in Borneo's mangrove swamps.
http://www.sarawaktourism.com/img/Proboscis.jpg

The Proboscis monkey. Fantastic swimmers and waders with big noses and pot bellies. Their name in Borneo is Orang Belanda. Malay for Dutchman, which to the locals way of thinking they apparently resemble.

archman
2005-Jan-04, 09:51 AM
Humans are unusual animals. Of all the branches of Primates only one has adopted a bipedal gait, developed a vocal communication system, become smart enough to master fire and hunting tools and lost a great deal of hair.
I don't mean to nitpick your post, but Homo sapiens is only the most recent (and still living) primate with the bipedal gait. And the question about vocalizing capabilities is far from resolved with the extinct forms.

Project Orion
2005-Jan-05, 02:07 AM
archman,

Homo sapiens is only the most recent (and still living) primate with the bipedal gait.
Absolutely. Reread my post.
"Humans are unusual animals. Of all the branches of Primates only one has adopted a bipedal gait"

I said that only one branch of Primates has adopted a bipedal gait. That branch ofcourse led to all of the Hominid species. I didn't put Homo Sapiens on a pedestal but referred to the entire branch. My earlier reference to Humans being unusual animals seemed logical enough in light of the fact that we are probably the last surviving Hominid species. Having outlived the Neanderthal by atleast 20,000 years and the Hobbits (Homo Floresiensis) of Indonesia who may have lived on Flores until the 16th century, we are unique. However, despite the fact that a time existed when many Hominid species coexisted in Africa, they all evolved from a single species that took those first bold and painful steps towards bipedalism.


And the question about vocalizing capabilities is far from resolved with the extinct forms.

Very true. I imagine that vocal communication evolved slowly over time just like all our other divergant adaptations which separate us from the rest of the Ape family. Not only do we have a language centre in the brain and vocal chords equipped for the task but we also have the mixed blessing of breathing control. It has value for speech but can also cause us to choke on occasion. A dropped larynx is a rare evolutionary adaptation. In fact, it's not generally found in land mammals at all. It's used by sea mammals for diving.

archman
2005-Jan-05, 02:51 AM
"Humans are unusual animals. Of all the branches of Primates only one has adopted a bipedal gait"

I said that only one branch of Primates has adopted a bipedal gait. That branch ofcourse led to all of the Hominid species. I didn't put Homo Sapiens on a pedestal but referred to the entire branch.

I still don't mean to nitpick, but there are currently between 4-7 different branches of the "hominid" line. For the postulated 4-branch system, the genus Homo gets one branch, Australopithecus gets another, Ardipethecus ditto, and Procanthropus the fourth, as well being the basal linkage. Many folks refer to the "human branch" as that of the various Homo species only, and lots of anthropologists only confer that title to the neohumans. "Hominid" and "Human" aren't particularly thought of as being synonymous; that's what caught my attention.

Like I said, nitpicky.

Project Orion
2005-Jan-05, 04:01 AM
I love nitpicking.

Neanderthals were certainly Hominids. It wasn't that long ago Humans and Animals weren't particularly thought of as being synonymous either. Anthropocentrism, is that the term? My brain fails me sometimes. We still think we inhabit the centre of the universe. In truth we probably dwell in the outer suburbs and on the wrong side of town. You are obviously far more knowledgable about human evolution than I am.

archman
2005-Jan-05, 06:21 AM
You are obviously far more knowledgable about human evolution than I am. Oh I doubt that. You've posted a lot of neat, contemporary stuff. I stopped keeping up 15 years ago, except for tidbits I pick up here and there. I had to look up the 4-branch system... I don't even recognize some of the hominid genera now posted. Any anthropology grad student would smoke me almost immediately.

captain swoop
2005-Jan-05, 01:02 PM
I can't see that any of your suppositions provide any evidence for your AAT .

Go to www.talkorigins.org for background and try asking some of the regulars on the talk.origins Usenet group. I am sure there will be people on there who can go into great detail.

Project Orion
2005-Jan-08, 02:25 AM
Archman,

I don't even recognize some of the hominid genera now posted.

I don't even bother. In the past, it was incorrectly assumed that human evolution was a relatively straight forward sequence of one species evolving into another. We now understand that there were times when several species of humans and even other hominids were alive. This complex pattern of evolution emerging from the fossil record has been aptly described as a luxuriantly branching bush on which all but one twig has died off. Modern humans ofcourse being that last living twig. My preoccupation has always been with the beginning of it all. The point at which our ancestors were forced away from the sedentary lifestyle among the treetops munching on fruit.

captain swoop,

I can't see that any of your suppositions provide any evidence for your AAT .

I'll dig some up for you. In the meantime I would be equally thankful to you if you provided me with some hard evidence of the Savannah Hypothesis.

Richard of Chelmsford
2005-Jan-10, 09:17 AM
There's an aquatic ape in my house.

My son who is always going to the swimming pool.

Project Orion
2005-Jan-12, 05:31 AM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training. I've heard some 'experts' credit this to the womb. As if a cramped space like that compares to a swimming pool. Human babies have natural buoyancy due to a high level of subcutaneous fat all over their body. They are comfortable under water and can hold their breaths for minutes at a time. Even the directional growth of fine hair on their bodies conforms to a swimmer. As soon as their faces get wet a diving reflex allows them to keep water out of their lungs. Other Apes can't control their breathing any more than they can heart rate.

Ardipithecus Ramidus was already walking around on two legs over 4.5 million years ago. Around 5 million years ago Ethiopia was turned into an amazon like environment. It wasn't only adults that had to adapt quickly to the change.

mopc
2005-Jan-13, 10:14 PM
Extremely intresting theory, which I had never heard before. But I guess if this thread is to survive healthily, one must distinguish between:

1) a fully aquatic ape theory

and

2) a theory that seeks to explain some of our traits as a result of adaptations to eventually having to venture into a body of water, or a (semi-)amphibian ape theory.

I guess the latter is more likely to be true.

captain swoop
2005-Jan-14, 10:32 AM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.

They sink and drown, how is that swimming?

archman
2005-Jan-14, 12:49 PM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.

They sink and drown, how is that swimming?

As a swimming instructor, I tend to agree.

SeanF
2005-Jan-14, 02:45 PM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.
They sink and drown, how is that swimming?
As a swimming instructor, I tend to agree.
You've instructed kids within the first few months after they were born?

Wally
2005-Jan-14, 03:23 PM
Other Apes can't control their breathing any more than they can heart rate.



Are you saying if an ape fell into a river, they'd continue to "breathe" under the water and immediately drown??? I thought all animals had the "diving instinct" when submerged. :-?

Candy
2005-Jan-16, 04:12 PM
I hope i dont get six fingers. None of my gloves will fit!.

Why would you need gloves in Florida? 8-[

Where are you, Humphrey? :(

2005-Jan-16, 04:42 PM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.

Are there any mammals that can't swim almost immediately? Dogs can, cats can and monkeys can. So how's it evidence for our "Aquatic" origin?

I never have found the AAT at all convincing. :D :D :D :D

archman
2005-Jan-16, 07:09 PM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.
They sink and drown, how is that swimming?
As a swimming instructor, I tend to agree.
You've instructed kids within the first few months after they were born? There's a part about babies in the manual. They don't swim. If they had instinctual ability, it shouldn't be lost a few months after birth. I wonder what parent would be testing this out anyway.

archman
2005-Jan-16, 07:11 PM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.

Are there any mammals that can't swim almost immediately? Dogs can, cats can and monkeys can. So how's it evidence for our "Aquatic" origin?

There are a handful of mammal lines that are known to have zero swimming ability. Bats are one, rabbits are another. I think there are five lines total, but I don't remember the others.

Careless
2005-Jan-17, 07:48 PM
Kids are great swimmers. For the first few months after they are born they know how to swim and hold their breath without any training.

Are there any mammals that can't swim almost immediately? Dogs can, cats can and monkeys can. So how's it evidence for our "Aquatic" origin?

I never have found the AAT at all convincing. :D :D :D :D
And since humans can walk within days of birth like these other animals... oh, darn, they can't? A human infant being able to swim is impressive in a way that a 2 month old dog swimming simply cannot be.

captain swoop
2005-Jan-18, 10:22 AM
And since humans can walk within days of birth like these other animals... oh, darn, they can't? A human infant being able to swim is impressive in a way that a 2 month old dog swimming simply cannot be.

But they can't swim, they can't keep their head above water and will drown. How is this swimming?

Project Orion
2005-Jan-19, 06:22 AM
mopc,

1) a fully aquatic ape theory

and

2) a theory that seeks to explain some of our traits as a result of adaptations to eventually having to venture into a body of water, or a (semi-)amphibian ape theory.

I guess the latter is more likely to be true.

Only the latter can be true. At most we were probably forced to adapt to the new environmental conditions over a period of 1-2 million years. Not nearly long enough to become fully aquatic. If the timeframe had been sufficiently longer then we may have chosen to adopt a fully aquatic lifestyle as many other animals have done. Otters, Beavers, Hippo's and Penguins are semi-aquatic. Whales, Dolphins, Manatees, Dugongs and Orcas are fully aquatic. There are many shades inbetween the two ends of the spectrum. Seals and Turtles are mostly aquatic but still come onto the land as part of their reproductive cycle. Seals to rear young and escape predators. Turtles to lay eggs. Pigs and Elephants are largely terrestrial but love to swim and may have been more semi-aquatic at some point in the past.

http://www.monkeyjungle.com/images/monkey8.jpg
Monkey wading in the Amazon.

captain swoop,

They sink and drown, how is that swimming?

Most leisure centres only accept babies for swimming lessons after they reach six months. All newborn babies automatically hold their breath under water. However, this ability is at its strongest when they are under three months of age and has to be learned if they are introduced to water at about six months. They forget.

This has survival value as it allows more time for parents to rescue offspring who have inadvertently fallen into water.



Wally,

Are you saying if an ape fell into a river, they'd continue to "breathe" under the water and immediately drown??? I thought all animals had the "diving instinct" when submerged.

The diving instinct is activated in infants when their faces get wet. Many animals are capable of learning this behaviour but it is generally instinctive among aquatic animals.

Pete Tattum,

Are there any mammals that can't swim almost immediately? Dogs can, cats can and monkeys can. So how's it evidence for our "Aquatic" origin?

More closely aligned to panic stricken running when it comes to cats. A doggy paddle is perhaps the first tenuous step on the path to an aquatic life. Most land animals have some degree of skill at navigating water. Humans are just more accomplished than most. The adaptive changes which set us apart from other apes are uncannily useful in a semi-aquatic environment.

Archman,

There's a part about babies in the manual. They don't swim. If they had instinctual ability, it shouldn't be lost a few months after birth. I wonder what parent would be testing this out anyway.

The idea of babies being able to swim underwater on their own was established in the 1960's, when Igor Tjarkovsky, a Russian swimming instructor, saved his daughter's life by raising her in a warm water tank after she was born more than two months prematurely.

Today his ideas - combined with further techniques pioneered in Australia - are well established and immensely popular. Across the world, babies as young as five days old enjoy the enormous social and physical benefits of learning to swim.

Infants lack the strength, co-ordination and motor skills to swim on the water's surface until aged about three. However, with careful supervision and encouragement, they can naturally swim short distances underwater from very early on. For a tiny baby - dependent on others for every aspect of its life - this is both exhilarating and empowering and has beneficial impact far beyond the fun of the classes themselves.

Careless,

And since humans can walk within days of birth like these other animals... oh, darn, they can't? A human infant being able to swim is impressive in a way that a 2 month old dog swimming simply cannot be.

Human beings are the only mammals in the world that habitually walk on two legs. (The only other creature with a perpendicular gait is an aquatic bird, the penguin.)

It is not surprising bipedalism is so rare. Compared with running or walking on four legs it has many disadvantages. It is slower; it is relatively unstable; it is a skill that takes many years to learn, and it exposes vulnerable organs to attack.

We have been doing it for five million years and in that time our bodies have been drastically remoulded to make it easier, but it is still the direct cause of many discomforts and ailments such as back pains, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, hernias and problems in childbirth. It would have been far more difficult and laborious for our ape-like ancestors; only some powerful pressure could have induced them to adopt a way of walking for which they were initially so ill suited.

One hypothesis used to be that they first developed big brains and began to make tools, and finally walked on their hind legs to free their hands for carrying weapons. But we now know that it was bipedalism that came first, before the big brain and tool-making.

However, if their habitat had become flooded, they would have been forced to walk on their hind legs whenever they came down to the ground in order to keep their heads above water. The only animal which has ever evolved a pelvis like ours, suitable for bipedalism, was the long-extinct _Oreopithecus_, known as the swamp ape.

Today, two primates when on the ground stand and walk erect somewhat more readily than most other species. One, the proboscis monkey, lives in the mangrove swamps of Borneo. The other is the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee; its habitat includes a large tract of seasonally flooded forest, which would have covered an even more extensive area before the African climate became drier.

Both of these species enjoy the water. It is interesting that the bonobos often mate face-to-face as humans do; in our case it is explained as a consequence of bipedalism. This mode of mating is another characteristic very rare among land animals, which we share with a wide range of aquatic mammals such as dolphins, beavers and sea otters. What we have in common with them is a mode of locomotion in which the spine and the hind limbs are in a straight line, and that affects the position of the sex organs.

http://www.monkeyboy.co.uk/images/aat8.gif

captain swoop,

But they can't swim, they can't keep their head above water and will drown. How is this swimming?

They will drown eventually if help doesn't arrive.

http://www.babiesgoswimming.com/PHOTO4.jpg

The human respiratory system is unlike any other land mammal in two respects. The first is that we have conscious control of our breathing. In most mammals these actions are involuntary, like the heart beat or the processes of digestion. Voluntary breath control appears to be an aquatic adaptation because, apart from ourselves, it is found only in aquatic mammals like seals and dolphins. When they decide how deep they are going to dive, they can estimate how much air they need to inhale. Without voluntary breath control it is very unlikely that we could have learned to speak.

The other human peculiarity is called "the descended larynx". A land mammal is normally obliged to breathe through its nose most of the time, because its windpipe passes up through the back of the throat and the top end of it (the larynx) is situated in the back of its nasal passages. A dog, for example, has to make a special effort to bring its larynx down into its throat in order to bark or to pant; when it relaxes, the larynx goes back up again. Even our own babies are born like that.

A few months after birth the human larynx descends into the throat, right down below the back of the tongue. Darwin found that very puzzling because it means that the opening to the lungs lies side by side with the opening to the stomach. That is why in our species food and drink may sometimes go "down the wrong way". If we had not evolved an elaborate swallowing mechanism it would happen every time.

This arrangement means that we can breathe through our mouths as easily as through our noses. It is probable that this is an aquatic adaptation, because a swimmer needing to gulp air quickly can inhale more of it through the mouth than through the nostrils. And we do know that the only birds which are obligatory mouth breathers are diving birds like penguins, pelicans and gannets. As for mammals, the only ones with a descended larynx, apart from ourselves, are aquatic ones - the sealion and the dugong.

We also have a different way of sweating from other mammals, using different skin glands. It is very wasteful of the body's essential resources of water and salt. It is therefore unlikely that we acquired it on the savannah, where water and salt are both in short supply.

We weep tears of emotion, controlled by different nerves from the ones that cause our eyes to water in response to smoke or dust. No other land animal does this. There are marine birds, marine reptiles and marine mammals which shed water through their eyes, or through special nasal glands, when they have swallowed too much seawater. This process may also be triggered in them by an emotional excitement caused by feeding or fighting or frustration. Weeping animals, apart from ourselves, include the walrus, the seal and the sea otter.

We have millions of sebaceous glands which exude oil over head, face and torso, and in young adults often causes acne. The chimpanzee's sebaceous glands are described as "vestigial" whereas ours are described as "enormous". Their purpose is obscure. In other animals the only known function of sebum is that of waterproofing the skin or the fur.

The most widely discussed contrast between ourselves and the apes is that we have bigger brains. A bigger brain may well have been an advantage to early man, but it would have been equally of advantage to a chimpanzee: the question is why one of them acquired it.

One factor may have been nutritional. The building of brain tissue, unlike other body tissues, is dependent on an adequate supply of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in the marine food chain but relatively scarce in the land food chain.

AAT is the only theory which logically connects all these and other enigmatic features and relates them to a single well attested historical event.


http://www.monkeyboy.co.uk/images/aat17.gif


It is now generally agreed that the man/ape split occurred in Africa between 7 and 5 million years ago, during a period known as the fossil gap.

Before it there was an animal which was the common ancestor of human and African apes. After it, there emerged a creature smaller than ourselves, but bearing the unmistakable hallmark of the first shift towards human status: it walked on two legs.

This poses two questions: "Where were the earliest fossils found?" and "Do we know of anything happening in that place at that time that might have caused apes and humans to evolve along separate lines?"

The oldest pre-human fossils (including the best known one, "Lucy"), are called australopithecus afarensis because their bones were discovered in the afar triangle, and area of low lying land near the Red Sea. About 7 million years ago that area was flooded by the sea and became the Sea of Afar.

Part of the ape population living there at the time would have found themselves living in a radically changed habitat. Some may have been marooned on off-shore islands - the present day Danakil Alps were once surrounded by water. Others may have lived in flooded forests, salt marshes, mangrove swamps, lagoons or on the shores of the new sea, and they would all have had to adapt or die.

AAT suggests that some of them survived, and began to adapt to their watery environment. Much later, when the Sea of Afar became landlocked and finally evaporated, their descendants returned to the mainland of Africa and began to migrate southwards, following the waterways of the Rift Valley upstream.

There is nothing in the fossil record to invalidate this scenario, and much to sustain it. Lucy's bones were found at Afar lying among crocodile and turtle eggs and crab claws at the edge of a flood plain near what would then have been the coast of Africa.

Other fossils of Australopithecus, dated later, were found further south, almost invariably in the immediate vicinity of ancient lakes and rivers.

We now know that the change from the ape into Australopithecus took place in a short space of time, by evolutionary standards. Such rapid speciation is almost invariably a sign that one population of a species has become isolated by a geographical barrier such as a stretch of water.

The Aquatic phase took place more than 5 million years ago. Since then, Homo has had five million years to re-adapt to terrestrial life. It is not surprising that the traces of aquatic adaptation have become partially obliterated and have gone unrecognized for so long.

archman
2005-Jan-19, 08:50 AM
The "semi-aquaticness" of mammals would apply to the vast majority of all known lines. Ditto for most reptiles. Limited "survival swimming ability" has never been construed by biologists as the makings for a truly aquatic animal. We (marine biologists) have fairly clear-cut definitions of what is/isn't an aquatic critter. Primates don't make the cut, not by a long, long ways. It's not shown for any fossil forms either. Granted some aquatic critters are hard to tell apart from their land cousins just by their skeletons, but they're a minority.

There's no direct evidence, just a collection of disjointed factoids that may/may not support such a theory. Off the top of my head, I can counterargue points regarding the big brain, emotional tears, sebaceous glands, voluntary breathing, and bipedalism. The obvious follow-on to this would be the objection to the methods used to bolster the theory. It looks to me like someone's scrutinizing minor weird aspects of humans and squeezing somewhat plausible arguments for them that fit the theory. There's a term for this I know.

There's not even remotely enough information for marine biologists to critically look at this theory. Far too many holes. Future discoveries may prove otherwise, but until then this theory is way out on the fringe. I've certainly never heard about it, 'til now. It's certainly interesting, but not worth much scientific discussion except by those specialists actively testing it out. I wish them luck.

ToSeek
2005-Jan-19, 04:24 PM
A few months after birth the human larynx descends into the throat, right down below the back of the tongue. Darwin found that very puzzling because it means that the opening to the lungs lies side by side with the opening to the stomach. That is why in our species food and drink may sometimes go "down the wrong way". If we had not evolved an elaborate swallowing mechanism it would happen every time.

This arrangement means that we can breathe through our mouths as easily as through our noses. It is probable that this is an aquatic adaptation, because a swimmer needing to gulp air quickly can inhale more of it through the mouth than through the nostrils.

It can also be argued that this is an adaptation that allows us to talk - obviously if we can't push significant amounts of breath out through our mouths, we wouldn't be able to speak.

rleyland
2005-Jan-19, 11:01 PM
Human beings are the only mammals in the world that habitually walk on two legs. (The only other creature with a perpendicular gait is an aquatic bird, the penguin.)

It is not surprising bipedalism is so rare. Compared with running or walking on four legs it has many disadvantages. It is slower; it is relatively unstable; it is a skill that takes many years to learn, and it exposes vulnerable organs to attack.



Ah, kangaroos, wallabies, kangaroo rats... are all primarily bipedal, and mammals too.

frogesque
2005-Jan-20, 12:52 AM
I'm going to thow this in the ring - feel free to throw it out again.

We adapted to bipedalisim as a result of cliff dwelling and a needed ability to climb trees for food gathering. Environmental constraints and a lack of strenght forced us to develop survival skills such as swimming across rivers and catching fish as well as an ability to forage on open plains and still have a height advantage over most predators in that walking/running on two feet gives better vision. We have always been close to rocks and stone tools and our ancestors knew the safety of a cave or cliff face and also the social advantages of group or tribal living. From there we develop territorially and we are then able to 'farm' an area, protecting fuiting trees and defending ripening fruits and nuts untill at their prime. We are omniverous, we exploit any niche we can, we have intellegece and can co-opperate, we are not fast but have immense stamina so we developed as all rounders and so we had the makings of a tribal community that learns from eachother to share ideas such as primitive tools, clothing and fire giving us even greater advantages. Alongside thes abilities develop a complex language from the primitive grunts and gestures of our forebears

We didn't need to be totally aquatic, indeed if we had become so it would have held back our development.

All this from an Engineer who knows very little about anthropology so as I said just fire away :lol:

Edit: typo

captain swoop
2005-Jan-20, 10:49 AM
Seals, Otters, Beavers, Sea Lions and Voles are all Semi- Aquatic and they breath through their noses and can close their nostrils. Not one of them breathes through it's mouth when in the water. How does that stack up against human mouth breathing being an aquatic adaptation? I agree that it's more likely to do with speech.

Wally
2005-Jan-20, 04:01 PM
The human respiratory system is unlike any other land mammal in two respects. The first is that we have conscious control of our breathing. In most mammals these actions are involuntary, like the heart beat or the processes of digestion. Voluntary breath control appears to be an aquatic adaptation because, apart from ourselves, it is found only in aquatic mammals like seals and dolphins

Many a fine hunting dog will dive for long periods of time in search of a lost bird. I think they qualify as voluntary holders of breath! :)

2005-Jan-20, 06:56 PM
How many "other" bipedal aquatic mammals are there? 8-[ 8-[ 8-[

Project Orion
2005-Jan-25, 04:43 AM
Of the 193 species of monkey and ape in the world we are the only one that has all these odd qualities. AAT is attractive to me because it presents a beautiful explanation for all of them.

archman,

The "semi-aquaticness" of mammals would apply to the vast majority of all known lines. Ditto for most reptiles. Limited "survival swimming ability" has never been construed by biologists as the makings for a truly aquatic animal.

Thats because science is pre-occupied with drawing lines. As you well know, the fossil record demonstrates that animals repeatedly re-adapt to different environments. Animals have been known to crawl onto the land, then return to the water millions of years later only to eventually re-emerge from the water onto the land yet again. This can go on and on. Marine reptiles such as the Ichthyosaur were difficult to differentiate in shape from fish.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/people/motani/image/steno.jpg

Even an animal like this originally went through a stage of learning to swim.


We (marine biologists) have fairly clear-cut definitions of what is/isn't an aquatic critter.

Clear cut definitions for an extremely fine line. How interesting.


Primates don't make the cut, not by a long, long ways.

I disagree. 190 out of 193 maybe. The Proboscis monkey, Bonobo and Homo Sapien certainly demonstrate enough adaption to water to be considered semi-aquatic.


It's not shown for any fossil forms either.

That's because the Afar Triangle has in the past been politically unstable and therefore difficult to arrange archaeological digs. Last time I spoke to Elaine Morgan she told me nobody had yet looked.


Granted some aquatic critters are hard to tell apart from their land cousins just by their skeletons, but they're a minority.

Humans are a minority. The only bipedal, talking, nearly hairless, super intelligent, swimming ape.


Off the top of my head, I can counterargue points regarding the big brain, emotional tears, sebaceous glands, voluntary breathing, and bipedalism.

I know. So can I. But can you offer an alternative rational theory which explains all of these points? One that provides an environmental explanation backed up by geological findings? The Savannah Hypothesis on its own is clearly lacking.


It looks to me like someone's scrutinizing minor weird aspects of humans and squeezing somewhat plausible arguments for them that fit the theory.

Minor weird aspects of humanity such as a big brain, hairlessness, bipedalism and speech. I would call those pretty major differences. That additional aspects of humanity are also demonstrably aquatic in origin is certainly no weakness in the theory.


There's not even remotely enough information for marine biologists to critically look at this theory.

What nonsense.


Future discoveries may prove otherwise, but until then this theory is way out on the fringe. I've certainly never heard about it, 'til now.

If nobody critically looks at it then how are future discoveries going to be made? Its going to be difficult to discover new AAT evidence if nobody is questioning human AAT characteristics. Especially if some marine biologists have never heard of it.


It's certainly interesting, but not worth much scientific discussion except by those specialists actively testing it out.

Marine biologists are specialists. Perhaps you mean the Aquatic Ape biologists. I suspect thats an extremely specialised field. In fact specialised to the point of non-existance. I guess I'll just have to go to the Afar Triangle myself and dig up some aquatic monkeys. Such is life.


ToSeek,

It can also be argued that this is an adaptation that allows us to talk - obviously if we can't push significant amounts of breath out through our mouths, we wouldn't be able to speak.

Breath control is very important for speech. Either we evolved speech and then developed breath control to aid it or we developed breath control and used it to develop speech. Verbal language is an extremely complex form of communication which requires a special area of the brain. Teaching apes to speak has proven horribly unsuccessful. A chimpanzee reared in a human environment was only able to speak 3 words after 6 years of intensive training. Mama, Papa and Cup. Further painstaking advances were incremental. Chimps just don't have the mental wiring for speech. It therefore seems likely that the ancestors of humans and chimps had no speech. Why would an animal evolve breath control for a language system it had not yet evolved?

rleyland,

Ah, kangaroos, wallabies, kangaroo rats... are all primarily bipedal, and mammals too.

You could include the dinosaurs too. Unfortunately such animals are not truly bipedal. They must use a tail to counterbalance their forward stooping bodies. Even the apes have skulls forwardly positioned. Human beings and Penguins stand erect with skulls centred on the spinal collumn. That is true bipedalism.

frogesque,
You have a good appreciation of human evolution. You just described the evolution of Babboons and Gorilla's.

captain swoop,

Seals, Otters, Beavers, Sea Lions and Voles are all Semi- Aquatic and they breath through their noses and can close their nostrils. Not one of them breathes through it's mouth when in the water.

None of them are Apes. You are talking about advanced semi-aquatics. Similarly, none of them breathe through a blow hole.


Many a fine hunting dog will dive for long periods of time in search of a lost bird. I think they qualify as voluntary holders of breath!

Definately. Water Dogs in particular have been bred to assist hunters in this fashion. Selective breeding is just another form of evolution and mans best friend has had to evolve alongside us. It's a combination of evolution and learned ability.

Pete Tattum,

How many "other" bipedal aquatic mammals are there?

None. Isn't it nice to be unique.

archman
2005-Jan-25, 08:59 AM
Of the 193 species of monkey and ape in the world we are the only one that has all these odd qualities. AAT is attractive to me because it presents a beautiful explanation for all of them. There's the implication that all 193 species have had these qualities examined. That's quite an impressive dataset, for a series of unrelated characteristics. I'm not saying it's incorrect, but a statement with that much assurance for so many species often has holes in it. It also begs the question as to what "odd qualities" didn't make the cut, but were still in the majority. The fundamental issue is what defined the original selection criteria? The absence of a disproved set of characteristics in the experimental design is extremely suspicious. If this research is being done properly, the list of disproved characteristics must be enormous. Where are they?

archman,

The "semi-aquaticness" of mammals would apply to the vast majority of all known lines. Ditto for most reptiles. Limited "survival swimming ability" has never been construed by biologists as the makings for a truly aquatic animal.


Thats because science is pre-occupied with drawing lines. As you well know, the fossil record demonstrates that animals repeatedly re-adapt to different environments. Animals have been known to crawl onto the land, then return to the water millions of years later only to eventually re-emerge from the water onto the land yet again. This can go on and on. Marine reptiles such as the Ichthyosaur were difficult to differentiate in shape from fish. Ugh. Science only has one overriding "preoccupation", and that's adherence to the scientific method. What this means is, if a hypothesis is put forth, that hypothesis must be tested in the standard, rigorous manner. I've never quite heard that described as "drawing lines" before. Regarding divergent and convergent evolutionary processes, those are well studied in fine detail. It's far less complicated than most people believe, and can often be predicted quite accurately. However, comparing convergent processes in fish and reptiles is not going to bolster any support for an aquatic ape theory, except by showing that convergent evolution takes place in nature. True support for the theory would have to come from the primate line itself, and its closest root-branch allies. Ignore other animal lines, they're simply noise that has no bearing on proving/disproving the specific AAT theory.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/people/motani/image/steno.jpg


Even an animal like this originally went through a stage of learning to swim. Yes, over tens of millions of years, and a multitude of transitional forms. Comparing an obligate marine ichthyosaur to a theoretical facultative aquatic ape isn't very useful, even as an analogy.


We (marine biologists) have fairly clear-cut definitions of what is/isn't an aquatic critter.


Clear cut definitions for an extremely fine line. How interesting.
I do not know where this statement is coming from. The definitions are most assuredly clear-cut, and there's not much of a fine line either. Let me first reiterate for the record that an animal capable of survival swimming is in no way considered "aquatic". Second, let me state the single overriding definition of what constitutes an "aquatic animal". Said animal must spend majority of its time living in or adjacent to the water, and spend significant portion of lifetime actually IN water. So for monkeys to be considered by the folks that officially define what is/isn't an aquatic animal, said monkey can't just be merely capable of swimming, it must physically be in the water for much of its lifetime. It's that simple. Any evidence shown towards an AAT theory has to fulfill those two requirements. The problem with primates is, there's no conclusive evidence for a species (living or extinct) ever fulfilling the latter requirement. Even japanese macaques don't cut the mustard... they mostly just sit in shallow water, when they're in water.


Primates don't make the cut, not by a long, long ways.


I disagree. 190 out of 193 maybe. The Proboscis monkey, Bonobo and Homo Sapien certainly demonstrate enough adaption to water to be considered semi-aquatic. Sorry, using the established definitions they do not. Either you're aquatic, or you're not. There's no "semi". The three living species listed are most assuredly ranked with the terrestrial animals. Heck even polar bears beat them out by a landslide, and their status as a "marine mammal" is far from decided.


It's not shown for any fossil forms either.


That's because the Afar Triangle has in the past been politically unstable and therefore difficult to arrange archaeological digs. Last time I spoke to Elaine Morgan she told me nobody had yet looked. Oh boy. Nobody has even looked? No wonder I've never heard about this theory before. Well, short of us discovering an "aquatic gene", examining the fossil record is the only true way to bolster the theory.


Granted some aquatic critters are hard to tell apart from their land cousins just by their skeletons, but they're a minority.


Humans are a minority. The only bipedal, talking, nearly hairless, super intelligent, swimming ape.
Yes. This would be the problem in the fossil record. Aquatic animals "new to the scene" like otters are skeletally indistinguishable from their land-based relatives. 5-10 millions years is what we believe to mark the divergences between land and water species. That's only a handful or two of species line progressions. With primates, the same problem exists in that even if we do find aquatic ancestors at such a primitive level, it'll be the bloody dickens to infer it from skeletal remains. We'd have to look for dietary and behavioral evidence, maybe analyze the fossils in a hi-tech way to label trace compounds only acquired by persistent immersion in water. And don't count on hair or intelligence as valid secondary indicators, 'cuz intelligence is cued to diet, and hair for thermoregulation. Those are pretty much clear across the board for both vertebrate and invertebrate lines, and not in serious dispute.


Off the top of my head, I can counterargue points regarding the big brain, emotional tears, sebaceous glands, voluntary breathing, and bipedalism.


I know. So can I. But can you offer an alternative rational theory which explains all of these points? One that provides an environmental explanation backed up by geological findings? The Savannah Hypothesis on its own is clearly lacking. If one can successfully counterargue the main points of a theory, then that theory is seriously in trouble. The entire objective of theory validation hinges on disproof of alternatives. None of the key anatomical arguments is a reliable indicator for an aquatic lifestyle. Granted an aquatic monkey very well might possess adaptive traits that don't jive with those known for other marine mammals, but unless we know what those traits are and show that they are in fact aquatic adaptations and nothing else, all we're doing is throwing out guesswork.


It looks to me like someone's scrutinizing minor weird aspects of humans and squeezing somewhat plausible arguments for them that fit the theory.


Minor weird aspects of humanity such as a big brain, hairlessness, bipedalism and speech. I would call those pretty major differences. That additional aspects of humanity are also demonstrably aquatic in origin is certainly no weakness in the theory. Again, these traits are NOT demonstrably aquatic in origin. Big brain=no. hairlessness=no. bipedalism=heck no. Speech=no. They're not even on our "B" list... well maybe the big brain is (most marine mammals being carnivores, and mammal carnivores have bigger brains, wherever they live).


There's not even remotely enough information for marine biologists to critically look at this theory.


What nonsense.
Then please submit the evidence, 'cuz right now there isn't any. If I had to qualify the theory, I'd classify it in the "intellectual exercise" stage of development. It barely has enough "observation" to make it to the "question" preceding the hypothesis stage. And without some solid new evidence, all us biologists have enough knowledge and expertise of the natural world to throw most of the existing observations out almost entirely. They're all far too ambiguous, unfortunately.


Future discoveries may prove otherwise, but until then this theory is way out on the fringe. I've certainly never heard about it, 'til now.


If nobody critically looks at it then how are future discoveries going to be made? Its going to be difficult to discover new AAT evidence if nobody is questioning human AAT characteristics. Especially if some marine biologists have never heard of it.
We've never heard of it 'cuz it's not really a valid theory at this point in time; it's a thought experiment. And by analyzing the "evidence" in its current state, there's little reason to scientifically explore the option. There are far more theories in much better standing to explore... and it's that stuff where most of our "future discoveries" lie. Believe me, scientific achievement is not suffering due to a lack of hypotheses.

Also, it's the job of the theory proponents to prove their theory, after all it's their theory. Blaming scientists for not exploring outlandish theories they don't believe in the first place is rather a peculiar notion.


It's certainly interesting, but not worth much scientific discussion except by those specialists actively testing it out.


Marine biologists are specialists. Perhaps you mean the Aquatic Ape biologists. I suspect thats an extremely specialised field. In fact specialised to the point of non-existance. I guess I'll just have to go to the Afar Triangle myself and dig up some aquatic monkeys. Such is life. Yes. To support an ancestral ape theory, you need to find said ape, or a form closely approximating it in function.

I haven't heard anyone refer to a marine biologist as a "specialist" in years. Good heavens, that's like calling an astronomer a specialist. Those are very loose titles, used for laypeople who don't need to know what our actual specializations are in. Mine happens to be in marine ecological processes and adaptational pressures that control them. A perfect example would be why anemone species A45 has evolved from related anemone species A44 to live in a radically different habitat type, and identifying those differences that make A45 more successfull in that new habitat.

Project Orion
2005-Feb-07, 06:08 AM
Your argument seems to be entirely centred around terminology. In fact the precise interpretation of 'semi-aquatic' as decided by marine biologists. In your own words you have stated that an animal normally takes from 5-10 million years to make the change from being a terrestrial to a semi-aquatic creature. Clearly an animal can make some progress in this direction over a period of one or two million years. While perhaps not meeting the specific time criteria stipulated by your colleagues it would still be better adapted to water than its predecessor. Besides, evolution is not always steady but more often sudden and violent. Triggered by drastic change. Bipedalism was a life or death adaptation and therefore evolution was perhaps greatly accelerated.

captain swoop
2005-Feb-07, 11:23 AM
Are those straws long enough to grasp?

farmerjumperdon
2005-Feb-07, 08:34 PM
A good one on the topic is Scars of Evolution, or something like that. Not definitive proof, but very good arguements. A fun & enjoyable read to boot. I'll try to post later to confirm the title.

Doodler
2005-Feb-07, 11:05 PM
Just a note on big brains. Human brains and cetacean brains are very differently structured. In cetaceans, the vast bulk of the brain's structure is so called 'white matter'. Particularly in dolphins, these are the 'melons' that receive and process sonar information. More raw computational power than memory. Human brains are more 'gray matter', which is primarily memory storage.

farmerjumperdon
2005-Feb-08, 12:15 AM
Yeah, that is Elaine Morgan's book. Doh!

01101001
2005-Feb-08, 12:40 AM
In cetaceans, the vast bulk of the brain's structure is so called 'white matter'. Particularly in dolphins, these are the 'melons' that receive and process sonar information.
That's not the melon I've read about: the cetacean melon is fatty tissue in the forehead, in front of the nostrils, outside the skull, and corresponds to our upper-lip tissue.

Reception of acoustic returns is done in the lower jaw and teeth.

The melon is part of the transmission mechanism, standing between the nasal passages where the sound is created and the water medium, and performs focusing and impedance matching.

Dolphin Neuroanatomy (http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/bionb424/students/ckr5/neuroanatomy.html)

Dolphin Evolution (http://tursiops.org/dolfin/guide/dolphinevo.html)

Project Orion
2005-Feb-08, 12:59 AM
Captain Swoop,

Are those straws long enough to grasp?

Did you hear about the hobbits discovered on an island north of Australia where I live? Miniature Elephants and other animals have also been found on small islands. A drastic evolutionary change forced upon a species to help it survive prescribed environments is not straw clutching but a well detailed and fully accepted scientific fact. An Otter and a Stoat are difficult to differentiate from their skeletal systems alone but obvious differences such as webbed digits(also in humans to a small degree but not found among other apes) and swimming ability (once again found in humans but not other apes) are a clear give away. Sometimes we miss the obvious because its right in front of our noses.

http://www.stormpages.com/snorklebum/animals/Dolph5.jpg

Doodler,

Just a note on big brains. Human brains and cetacean brains are very differently structured. In cetaceans, the vast bulk of the brain's structure is so called 'white matter'. Particularly in dolphins, these are the 'melons' that receive and process sonar information. More raw computational power than memory. Human brains are more 'gray matter', which is primarily memory storage.

Absolutely. Dolphins in particular evolved from a doglike animal and were already swimming around long before we appeared on the scene. When they sleep they only switch off one hemisphere of their brain at a time. Keeping one eye open for danger. In many analytical tests they have proven more intelligent than humans. Last time I checked there were atleast 27 different types of measurable intelligence for human brains. With Dolphins you have to take into account that they have more senses than we do. Our minds can only work within the context of the input they are provided with so in many ways, Dolphin brains are more advanced than ours. One aspect we do share is a complex form of communication. It is now proven that Dolphins have a very complex language structure. Even more complex than our own. Trained Dolphins when asked to create an original trick will briefly confer underwater before simultaneously performing a complicated leap. No other animal besides ourselves has ever demonstrated an ability even close to this. Not even Pygmy chimpanzee's whom they appear to be smarter than.

archman
2005-Feb-08, 07:24 AM
Your argument seems to be entirely centred around terminology. In fact the precise interpretation of 'semi-aquatic' as decided by marine biologists. Terminology problems relate to some of my arguments, sure enough. I'm using correct terms to clarify those that are incorrect. Please tell me what the marine biologists' definition of a "semi-aquatic" animal is please, and quote the source and date. It needs to be referenced as a specific definition, please.


In your own words you have stated that an animal normally takes from 5-10 million years to make the change from being a terrestrial to a semi-aquatic creature. Clearly an animal can make some progress in this direction over a period of one or two million years. What I said was in reference to otters, and otters alone. But yes, that's the time frame currently believed to separate terrestrial weasel-things to fully aquatic (or marine) otters. But these critters rank near the very bottom of what we construe as aquatic. Dropping evolutionary time periods to a couple million years for a primate species is showing an extreme optimism, if one wants to see a shift towards an aquatic lifestyle that actually means anything. And that's already assuming a mort of punctuated equilibria processes and just plain good luck with the genetics dice. Just take a peek at evolutionary patterns for mammals throughout the Cenozoic. In particular, note the time scales that most animal lines are showing radical changes in appearance and/or lifestyle. Those are good proxies for modelling primate evolution.

archman
2005-Feb-08, 07:39 AM
With Dolphins you have to take into account that they have more senses than we do. Other than acoustics, what other senses do they have that we don't?


Our minds can only work within the context of the input they are provided with so in many ways, Dolphin brains are more advanced than ours. One aspect we do share is a complex form of communication. It is now proven that Dolphins have a very complex language structure. Even more complex than our own.
Um, can you cite a research link that discusses dolphin language structure being more complex than humans, and that details how their brains are more "advanced" than ours? Having worked with three species of dolphin firsthand, and being close pals with a few cetacean biologists, one SeaWorld dolphin trainer, and a couple dolphin rehabilitators from Grassy Key, this is news to me. Maybe my dolphins were just stupid, and my friends being dorks that wouldn't spill this great secret.

I'll grant that dolphins are bright, but not that bright.

archman
2005-Feb-08, 07:52 AM
Visit here.
http://www.aquaticape.org/index.html

This fellow would appear to have devoted a large portion of his life exploring the aquatic ape theory. And he's done it in a rigorous, scientific manner, how refreshing. I would recommend anyone that has serious (or frivolous) questions explore the website. It seems to cover every conceivable detail or minutia.

I'm getting deja vu from the author, Jim Moore. From his writing style, I am keenly reminded of Phil Plait! The site is like a miniature Bad Astronomy Board, except it only covers the Aquatic Ape Theory!

I'm bookmarking the site, it's so bloody nice. Actually, I think I'll email the guy and refer him to our discussion. He'll probably correct a lot of my statements. Maybe he has something to contribute to astronomy, even.

Project Orion
2005-Feb-21, 01:20 AM
From link.

I don't have any formal credentials in evolutionary science

Yes, he certainly sounds qualified to pick apart an evolutionary theory.

Moving on.


Other than acoustics, what other senses do they have that we don't?

http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/Bottlenose/sensesdol.html


Um, can you cite a research link that discusses dolphin language structure being more complex than humans, and that details how their brains are more "advanced" than ours?

I watched an Imax movie about Dolphins which went heavily into the matter. I wouldn't know where to start looking on the net.


I'll grant that dolphins are bright, but not that bright.

There are many types of intelligence. In some tests Dolphins perform far better than humans. Their reaction time is excellent.

Brady Yoon
2005-Feb-21, 02:49 AM
This theory makes a lot of sense! :o

archman
2005-Feb-21, 02:55 AM
From link.

I don't have any formal credentials in evolutionary science

Yes, he certainly sounds qualified to pick apart an evolutionary theory.
Oh please. The author's plainly researched the material in an exhaustive and seemingly scientific manner. He knows the material. He may not be professionally trained as an evolutionary biologist, but hey, neither are some of the major proponent of the aquatic ape theory. I'd say they cancel one another out then, on questions of qualifications. Besides, Moore's referring to formal credentials. If you're implying you need those to intelligently discuss the theory, that would rule out most members of the astronomy board, and thus invalidate the rationale for you posting it here as a discussion topic. I'm assuming you have formal qualifications in evolutionary science, Project Orion.

However, for the benefit of the doubt, pick out one or two conclusions that you believe Jim Moore's wrong about, and post them here. Since I'm "qualified to pick apart an evolutionary theory", I'll take a look at them. There's a strange fellow named Kuliukas that's new on the scene and appears to be quite bright... if I get stuck on something I'll probably just ask him. He follows the works of Marc Verhaegen, who has ratcheted down the aquatic ape theory to something that's actually reasonable-sounding.
http://www.riverapes.com/AAH/MV/MVThoughts.htm


Other than acoustics, what other senses do they have that we don't?

http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/Bottlenose/sensesdol.html

Unfortunately, that link doesn't bring up any dolphin sense that humans lack. It merely explains human vs. dolphin differences in senses we both have.



I'll grant that dolphins are bright, but not that bright.


There are many types of intelligence. In some tests Dolphins perform far better than humans. Their reaction time is excellent.

What are these intelligence tests? Obviously if you are aware of them, you can describe them in further detail. And what does reaction time have anything to do with intelligence? Heck, one of the eels in my lab has a faster reaction time to stimulus than I do... so do several crabs.

Back to the Aquatic Ape mess, I have been in email contact with Jim Moore. He has expressed an interest in joining our discussion. That would be spiffy.

Project Orion
2005-Feb-21, 04:51 AM
He may not be professionally trained as an evolutionary biologist, but hey, neither are some of the major proponent of the aquatic ape theory. I'd say they cancel one another out then, on questions of qualifications.

I wholeheartedly agree, but then I'm not the one forwarding a quack as the expert in this matter. All I have done in this thread is try to clarify some confusion from members and discuss some aspects of human evolution which are to say the very least puzzling. I think I have convincingly argued that AAT is a theory with possible value. I'm fully aware that many proponents are nuts. I would compare it to Astrobiology. A serious science with no firm evidence to support it. Unfortunately undermined by UFO conspiracists. I don't expect any consensus to come from this thread. The future of AAT will ofcourse be decided by diggers in the field.

archman
2005-Feb-21, 10:26 PM
I wholeheartedly agree, but then I'm not the one forwarding a quack as the expert in this matter.

That comment is very much uncalled for. It doesn't even make sense. If you "wholeheartedly agree" that both Jim Moore AND many of the AAT proponents rank equally in not being professionally trained, that would make them BOTH "quacks" by your definition. Using the same criteria you are using, that would make you a quack too, since most of your arguments are the very ones coming from these AAT proponents. In any event, resorting to name-calling is really inappropriate, and if used, should by courtesy be backed up. All you had to do was post THIS much newer link from Kuliukas... heck that's what I would have done.
http://www.riverapes.com/AAH/Arguments/JimMoore/JMHome.htm

This site is not nearly as clearly written as Moore's, but it does counter many of Moore's claims, which in turn counter the more extreme versions of the AAT that pervade the public mainstream, and this thread.

Unlike most of the AAT discussion from this specific thread, the most current (and ACTUAL) researchers take the theory and drop it down to a far milder form, which is much more plausible to scientists. These guys claim that their milder hypothesis is in fact closely derived from the original form postulated back in the early 1960's, the one thought up by Hardy, the marine biologist. Just from a rough overlook, they may have something there.
http://www.riverapes.com/AAH/Arguments/Langdon/LangdonCritique.htm

Kuliukas needs to work on his prose a bit; it's not entirely neutral. But he's new, and freely admits getting into the field as a direct result of reading Elaine Morgan's book (who would rank as a definite "quack", having no formal training).

*****
Still waiting to hear about these dolphin intelligence tests that beat out humans...

Project Orion
2005-Mar-10, 02:28 AM
Archman,

The author's plainly researched the material in an exhaustive and seemingly scientific manner. He knows the material. He may not be professionally trained as an evolutionary biologist, but hey, neither are some of the major proponent of the aquatic ape theory. I'd say they cancel one another out then, on questions of qualifications.

He's clearly biased and uneducated. I prefer to get my information from informed professionals and not wannabe's. That goes for proponents of the AAT as well. Alistair Hardy, Desmond Morris, Max Westenhofer and Elaine Morgan for instance. Professionals. Ignorance doesn't cancel out ignorance. No more than muddy water can be cleaned up by throwing in more mud.


Besides, Moore's referring to formal credentials. If you're implying you need those to intelligently discuss the theory, that would rule out most members of the astronomy board, and thus invalidate the rationale for you posting it here as a discussion topic. I'm assuming you have formal qualifications in evolutionary science, Project Orion.

Anyone can discuss the topic. I just don't see any point in discussing it through an intermediary who doesn't even posess formal qualifications in regard to the topic. I joined this discussion after reading the posts and coming to the conclusion that most of the participants were rather cloudy about the guts of the theory. They had demonstrated an interest but needed it to be explained to them in a straightforward manner. Personally I support the hypothesis but I didn't post it here as a discussion topic. Someone else did. All I have done is refer to aspects of the theory. Such as River Apes and Sea Apes. Point to intriguing biological, sociological and palaeontological facts. And put forward some possible answers to questions directed to me by you and others who are antagonistic towards this relatively new evolutionary theory. As to my qualifications, I used to work on a volunteer basis for the Norwich Museum of Natural History and have donated a number of fossil specimens to their departments. I've dug up neolithic scrapers, cleaned mammoth tusks and been allowed to walk through Stone Henge. I haven't pretended to own a professional degree but then I don't need one to discuss an infant hypothesis. Discussing any of the multitude of Hypotheses in the world is easy. The material is already written and still being formed in light of new discoveries. Toppling a new theory on the other hand, when you have no knowledge of the subject from which to launch your assault and little in fact to attack is just plain silly. Still, a lot of people do it. Thats why Darwin waited until he had accrued masses of evidence from all over the World before putting forward his hypothesis. He knew that some fool wanting to make a name for himself would go on the offensive and if his theory wasn't airtight it would be bludgeoned to death. In the end he only published his work after hearing that another scientist was working on the same idea and threatened to beat him to it. As a result the arguments could have swung either way. AAT was perhaps ahead of its time. The evidence hasn't yet accumulated to an overwhelmingly convincing level and the Savannah hypothesis has become so staunchly accepted that it leaves little room even for an ammendment. This despite the fact that there are great gaping holes in it. Why has no other Ape come down from the tree's and adopted a bipedal gait for instance? How did such bipedal apes initially survive in a land full of superior predators?


However, for the benefit of the doubt, pick out one or two conclusions that you believe Jim Moore's wrong about, and post them here.

I read half of the first page and saw immediately he was extremely biased and ignorant on the topic. His writings are junk food for the brain. There was no reason to waste any more time on them. How about you post whatever fascinates you about his writing, if you feel you must, and I'll answer if I feel like it.


What are these intelligence tests? Obviously if you are aware of them, you can describe them in further detail. And what does reaction time have anything to do with intelligence? Heck, one of the eels in my lab has a faster reaction time to stimulus than I do... so do several crabs.

It was response time to yes/no questions where the Dolphin would hit one of two pedals with its nose. I think it got 27 answers right in a row and in astounding time. I'm not renting it out on video just to find out what senses Dolphins have which we lack.


Back to the Aquatic Ape mess, I have been in email contact with Jim Moore. He has expressed an interest in joining our discussion.

He needs to be heralded?

Brady Yoon,

This theory makes a lot of sense!

I think so too. The evidence is hardly overwhelming but it strikes a chord. If correct it would succinctly explain the peculiar characteristics we've evolved since diverging from our chimp-like ancestors.

captain swoop
2005-Mar-10, 01:10 PM
I read half of the first page and saw immediately he was extremely biased and ignorant on the topic. His writings are junk food for the brain. There was no reason to waste any more time on them. How about you post whatever fascinates you about his writing, if you feel you must, and I'll answer if I feel like it.


So you came to your conclusion without even reading the work? Well, that;s very scientific.



It was response time to yes/no questions where the Dolphin would hit one of two pedals with its nose. I think it got 27 answers right in a row and in astounding time.

You think? that's a bit vague, do we just take your word for it? What kind of questions where they? Do dolphins understand spoken english? what's their vocabulary range?



I'm not renting it out on video just to find out what senses Dolphins have which we lack.


So you don't know but we accept your wor on it?

archman
2005-Mar-11, 12:26 AM
Archman,

The author's plainly researched the material in an exhaustive and seemingly scientific manner. He knows the material. He may not be professionally trained as an evolutionary biologist, but hey, neither are some of the major proponent of the aquatic ape theory. I'd say they cancel one another out then, on questions of qualifications.

He's clearly biased and uneducated. I prefer to get my information from informed professionals and not wannabe's.
That's excellent. Maybe you'll post some of this information acquired from professional sources sometime. Your previous lengthy postings on the topic have lacked this; exemplified by my extensive cleaning up and clarifying of incorrect terminology and references to evolutionary time-scales (among other things). I recommend starting off by taking some more biology classes, or cracking open some texts. You may also learn directly from professional hominid researchers, although most will be understandably not be too receptive of the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis.

As for Moore being "uneducated", I challenged you first to point out some flaws in his reasoning. It should have been relatively simple to pick out just one, if the "bias" was so clear. I am not sure what you mean by bias? Bias against use of the scientific method, bias against the AAT, bias against Elaine Morgan's looney version of AAT? It IS a critique, you know. Heck, I even posted a link for you that specifically critiqued Moore's critique. I do not believe you have thoroughly read either of them, personally. If you had, I doubt you would have posted much of what you did earlier, and you most certainly would have referenced either Moore or Kuliukas at some points. In fact you did reference Kuliukas' master's thesis at one point, but I do not think you read through it thoroughly, judging from your subsequent posts.



Besides, Moore's referring to formal credentials. If you're implying you need those to intelligently discuss the theory, that would rule out most members of the astronomy board, and thus invalidate the rationale for you posting it here as a discussion topic. I'm assuming you have formal qualifications in evolutionary science, Project Orion.


Anyone can discuss the topic. I just don't see any point in discussing it through an intermediary who doesn't even posess formal qualifications in regard to the topic. Yet it's perfectly fine for you to post lengthy articles about it? I asked Jim Moore if he'd like to participate in the discussion, same as any other member. You "don't see a point" to discussing AAT with a man who knows far more about the theory than anyone else on this board? You can't have it both ways, Project Orion. You're formally posting extensive articles of your own on this board about the topic, yet obviously lack professional qualifications to do so. And you "don't see a point" in letting Jim Moore talk? What about Kuliukas, is he okay? He's a young scientist, but one of the few professionals suporting the theory. Should I ask some anthropologists to drop by? I'm not a hominid expert, maybe I shouldn't be posting either. I am getting the impression (from this thread and others) that you enjoy writing long articles about topics you have limited knowledge about, but do not enjoy informed critiques about them.


I joined this discussion after reading the posts and coming to the conclusion that most of the participants were rather cloudy about the guts of the theory. They had demonstrated an interest but needed it to be explained to them in a straightforward manner.
This is a perfectly valid argument. Except what you're posting is not straightforward, not at all. It's a hazy mismash of inappropriate terms, incorrect or insubstantiated "facts", an exaggerated view of evolutionary patterns, and lack of referenced support materials (links). What you are posting does not represent the "professional" version of the AAT, near as I can tell it's something based off of reading all or part of that popular-style book Elaine Morgan wrote, who isn't anywhere remotely qualified to be writing such books (she writes scripts for television, and has an english degree I believe).


]Personally I support the hypothesis but I didn't post it here as a discussion topic. Someone else did. All I have done is refer to aspects of the theory. Such as River Apes and Sea Apes. Point to intriguing biological, sociological and palaeontological facts. And put forward some possible answers to questions directed to me by you and others who are antagonistic towards this relatively new evolutionary theory.
We are not "antagonistic", we "question" it. That's what scientists do; we're merciless critiquers. The layperson frequently does not understand this, and commonly construes this as hostility. It most assuredly is not. But it most assuredly IS a demand for backing up of evidence, and use of the scientific method in the gathering and interpretation of that evidence.
The Aquatic Ape Theory is under a lot of fire, due to the simple fact that it lacks much in the way of supporting evidence, is maligned and inappropriately propagated by a bunch of overzealous non-experts in it, and that yes, it is new. ALL new theories have to run the gauntlet of proof/disproof. AAT will be hip-deep in this for quite a long time, unless they can drum up some solid supporting evidence. The new folks over in London may be on the path to that, but they're not there yet.



As to my qualifications, I used to work on a volunteer basis for the Norwich Museum of Natural History and have donated a number of fossil specimens to their departments. I've dug up neolithic scrapers, cleaned mammoth tusks and been allowed to walk through Stone Henge. I haven't pretended to own a professional degree but then I don't need one to discuss an infant hypothesis.
What you are writing are, functionally, "blogs". Blogs are internet articles. They may or may not be accurate. Scientists tend to dislike blogs, as many of them disseminate information that is false and/or poorly researched, but this information is readily seen all over the world via the internet. It lacks peer review, or much any review. Opinion articles like blogs need to be clearly marked "OPINION", but they rarely often are. And that's dangerous.



Discussing any of the multitude of Hypotheses in the world is easy. The material is already written and still being formed in light of new discoveries. Toppling a new theory on the other hand, when you have no knowledge of the subject from which to launch your assault and little in fact to attack is just plain silly.
This is a science board, so we discuss theories and hypotheses in the scientific manner. If someone writes a blog about something he's not a proclaimed authority on, it's reasonable to assume that other non-experts can feel free to critique it. Quid pro quo.





However, for the benefit of the doubt, pick out one or two conclusions that you believe Jim Moore's wrong about, and post them here.


I read half of the first page and saw immediately he was extremely biased and ignorant on the topic. His writings are junk food for the brain. There was no reason to waste any more time on them. How about you post whatever fascinates you about his writing, if you feel you must, and I'll answer if I feel like it. You're copping out. Moore's "errors" are not readily apparent to me, without referring to the other link I listed previously. That writer is most obviously biased, but towards AAT, and specifically Jim Moore. Despite that, bias does not rule out inaccuracy. If you really "immediately" saw ignorance in Jim Moore's writings Project Orion, I believe you would have posted them. Reading halfway through the first page would have gotten you pretty much nowhere useful; most of Moore's critiques are linked separately. I don't think you even looked at them. Here, I'll post it again.
http://www.aquaticape.org/index.html

I'll pick a topic at random, "Swimming Babies". Have at it.



What are these intelligence tests? Obviously if you are aware of them, you can describe them in further detail. And what does reaction time have anything to do with intelligence? Heck, one of the eels in my lab has a faster reaction time to stimulus than I do... so do several crabs.

It was response time to yes/no questions where the Dolphin would hit one of two pedals with its nose. I think it got 27 answers right in a row and in astounding time. I'm not renting it out on video just to find out what senses Dolphins have which we lack. That's because there aren't any (well maybe acoustics), and you probably know it now, after I checked you on it. However, here's what you wrote before about dolphins...

Absolutely. Dolphins in particular evolved from a doglike animal and were already swimming around long before we appeared on the scene. When they sleep they only switch off one hemisphere of their brain at a time. Keeping one eye open for danger. In many analytical tests they have proven more intelligent than humans. Last time I checked there were atleast 27 different types of measurable intelligence for human brains. With Dolphins you have to take into account that they have more senses than we do. Our minds can only work within the context of the input they are provided with so in many ways, Dolphin brains are more advanced than ours. One aspect we do share is a complex form of communication. It is now proven that Dolphins have a very complex language structure. Even more complex than our own. Trained Dolphins when asked to create an original trick will briefly confer underwater before simultaneously performing a complicated leap. No other animal besides ourselves has ever demonstrated an ability even close to this. Not even Pygmy chimpanzee's whom they appear to be smarter than.

And if all you've got is a SeaWorld link (that's not useful) and a television video you dimly recall to support these wild statements, then you're blogging again, and not in a good way. Please do not make statements you cannot support on a scientific discussion board... there are plenty of other boards that cater to unsubstantiated science.

Project Orion
2005-Mar-17, 05:43 AM
Heck, I even posted a link for you that specifically critiqued Moore's critique. I do not believe you have thoroughly read either of them, personally.

How astute of you considering I said as much in an earlier posting.



You "don't see a point" to discussing AAT with a man who knows far more about the theory than anyone else on this board?

I don't see any point in discussing a topic through proxy. Your idol hasn't written anything at this board as of yet. His lengthy scribblings begin with a declaration of bias and an acknowledgement of having zero credentials. Why would I waste my time with the rest of his drivel when there is a world of worthwhile reading material at my fingertips. Like I already said, feel free to regurgitate any section of his work you deem fit for copy pasting.


You can't have it both ways, Project Orion. You're formally posting extensive articles of your own on this board about the topic, yet obviously lack professional qualifications to do so.

Its a discussion board. Thats what we do here. The difference is that I'm here in person and your buddy isn't.


And you "don't see a point" in letting Jim Moore talk?

I have never expressed such an attitude. How on earth could I possibly stop him from talking. Its not my fault that he is currently a no show.


Should I ask some anthropologists to drop by? I'm not a hominid expert, maybe I shouldn't be posting either. I am getting the impression (from this thread and others) that you enjoy writing long articles about topics you have limited knowledge about, but do not enjoy informed critiques about them.

Thats an extremely anti-social habit. Claiming opinions of me which I have never expressed.


what you're posting is not straightforward, not at all. It's a hazy mismash of inappropriate terms, incorrect or insubstantiated "facts", an exaggerated view of evolutionary patterns, and lack of referenced support materials (links).

This from a guy who himself admits to having no knowledge of hominids.


We are not "antagonistic", we "question" it. That's what scientists do; we're merciless critiquers. The layperson frequently does not understand this, and commonly construes this as hostility. It most assuredly is not. But it most assuredly IS a demand for backing up of evidence, and use of the scientific method in the gathering and interpretation of that evidence.

Thank you for the succinct explanation of the scientific method. Did you copy that out of your science 101 text book?


The Aquatic Ape Theory is under a lot of fire, due to the simple fact that it lacks much in the way of supporting evidence, is maligned and inappropriately propagated by a bunch of overzealous non-experts in it, and that yes, it is new. ALL new theories have to run the gauntlet of proof/disproof. AAT will be hip-deep in this for quite a long time, unless they can drum up some solid supporting evidence.

It's just a theory. That's right. Nothing to get your knickers in a twist about.


What you are writing are, functionally, "blogs". Blogs are internet articles. They may or may not be accurate. Scientists tend to dislike blogs, as many of them disseminate information that is false and/or poorly researched, but this information is readily seen all over the world via the internet. It lacks peer review, or much any review. Opinion articles like blogs need to be clearly marked "OPINION", but they rarely often are. And that's dangerous.

And that isn't?

captain swoop
2005-Mar-17, 08:58 AM
I see a pattern emerging here, This is exactly the way you reply to Nicolas in the Space Radiation thread. When someone posts any kind of critique of your ideas you reply with vague ad hominem and put downs rather than responding to the content of the reply.

As I say in that thread Calm down folks.

Fram
2005-Mar-17, 01:29 PM
Humans are a minority. The only bipedal, talking, nearly hairless, super intelligent, swimming ape.


ProjectOrion, I hope you will sometimes respond to factual criticisms with factual and to the point answers, because those are strangely missing from your posts. They would be more productive than the veiled ad hominems you use.

You claim that there are three semi-aquatic apes, so we are not the only swimming ape. What sets those three apart from all other apes, not in our behaviour but physically?
Apart from that, in what way does being bipedal, talking, nearly hairless and super intelligent have anything to do with being (semi-)aquatic?
Bipedalism: no clear advantage.
Talking: no advantage.
Nearly hairless: no clear advantage.
Super intelligent: no advantage.

You have used a lot of wrong arguments, too much to tackle them all in one go. It doesn't matter if there is a truckload of evidence or none at all for the Savannah theory. If the AAT is an incorrect hypothesis, then it doesn't matter if it is marginally better or worse than any other theory. It's probably more correct than the FAT (flying...), but so what? There is very little evidence pro the AAT, and very much contra.
And I don't think we are really that slow compared with other great animals. Are gorilla's any faster? Chimpansees? Elephants are many times bigger, but only marginally faster. Grizzlies as well. The ai is a tad slower... Are all semi-aquatic animals slower than their landbased counterparts?

captain swoop
2005-Mar-17, 02:13 PM
Are all semi-aquatic animals slower than their landbased counterparts?

Otters can run like mad!


edit to say run sorry :oops:

archman
2005-Mar-17, 08:18 PM
I quit. This is exasperating well beyond frustration. On the other hand, I believe everyone reading this thread has enough information to make up their own minds about this theory. I've posted both relevant pro and con weblinks from folks who are reasonaby inherent in use of the scientific method, and tried to clarify/correct as much as I could from the less appropriate/factual "blogs" on this thread.

If you have further questions about the theory, best to directly contact the authors of the linked websites. Some are inherently hostile to one another and display marked bias, but they ALL know the material very well, and know how to concisely explain it in a scientific manner.

http://www.riverapes.com/AAH/Arguments/JimMoore/JMHome.htm
http://www.aquaticape.org/
http://www.riverapes.com/AAH/Arguments/Langdon/LangdonCritique.htm

Project Orion
2005-Mar-20, 08:34 AM
captain swoop,

I see a pattern emerging here, This is exactly the way you reply to Nicolas in the Space Radiation thread. When someone posts any kind of critique of your ideas you reply with vague ad hominem and put downs rather than responding to the content of the reply.

I talk to others the same way they talk to me. I'm just better at it. He accuses me of not giving Moore a chance to speak. How absurd. I'm not a moderator or admin here. The guy has never even visited the board and yet this Archie thinks I should read through entire websites just because a link is posted. I do in fact have a life outside of the net.

Fram,

ProjectOrion, I hope you will sometimes respond to factual criticisms with factual and to the point answers, because those are strangely missing from your posts. They would be more productive than the veiled ad hominems you use.

Go ask a computer if you want a series of one's and zero's. I'm not an academic writer who adds lengthy footnotes and uses undecipherable terminology. I like to reach a broader audience than a handful of eggheads in some university basement. I like my writing to be accessible.


You claim that there are three semi-aquatic apes, so we are not the only swimming ape. What sets those three apart from all other apes, not in our behaviour but physically?

No I didn't. Better recheck your notes. There are only five living ape species. There are atleast two swimming monkeys including the Proboscis monkey. It has a notably large bulbous nose. As do we. The rest of the primates generally have two holes in their faces. Could be a sexual attraction thing. Seems to me such a sheaf of extraneous tissue would aid in keeping water out of the nasal passages.


Apart from that, in what way does being bipedal, talking, nearly hairless and super intelligent have anything to do with being (semi-)aquatic?

I don't have enough time to espouse opinions on all those.

In short...

Bipedalism: developed from wading.
Talking: sound travels three times faster in water so would clearly prove advantagious in keeping a group together, warning of predators etc.
Nearly hairless: soaked hair is heavy and would not aid in escaping sharks or crocs. Out of water it can take a long time to dry out, leading to possible pneumonia and death.
Super intelligent: adapting to a new environment is challenging. Dolphins certainly got smarter. It may have stimulated tool development which would have forced our creative processes to develop accordingly.


And I don't think we are really that slow compared with other great animals. Are gorilla's any faster? Chimpansees?

Yes, a lot faster.


Elephants are many times bigger, but only marginally faster.

Elephants probably have semi-aquatic beginnings too. Why else would they pack a snorkel? As the worlds biggest land animal they can't even jump so running isn't their strong point.


Grizzlies as well.

I'm sure there are many hunters who wished that were so.


The ai is a tad slower... Are all semi-aquatic animals slower than their landbased counterparts?

I doubt it. But then not many of them arrived on the Savannah with long fishing spears which could outrun just about anything.


I quit.

But now its your turn. I want incontrovertible evidence of the Savannah hypothesis. Show me your body of proof.


On the other hand, I believe everyone reading this thread has enough information to make up their own minds about this theory.

I hope not. I myself am undecided and awaiting more evidence. The era's relevant to this discussion are a black hole in the fossil record. All current theories could be wrong.

2005-Mar-20, 09:21 AM
The idea of talking underwater is quite intruiging, I admit. I agree that sound travels faster underwater. But - my own attempts at subaquatic converstaion were very unsuccessful. :D :D :D I nearly drowned! :wink:

Anthrosciguy
2005-Mar-21, 03:50 AM
edited because I accidentally double posted.

Anthrosciguy
2005-Mar-21, 03:51 AM
Hi. I'm Jim Moore (and actually posted here in this thread sometime back (Nov 2003). When Archman e-mailed me I was on a trip and didn't get back till recently, and have spent a little time looking through the posts on the thread, and much more time procrastinating about writing up some replies. :) I put together this post with some info to correct some misinformation people have. I did this all in one post, with names of the quoted bits removed, just because it was easier. I hope no one is too annoyed at that, and that it's fairly clear.

First let me say that Project Orion's posts seem to be more of a "professional arguer" style rather than a real attempt to present, defend, or counter any ideas, so there are only limited things that need saying about the points he raises. But there are a few. One is on credentials, another on the question of my bias, and there's a few matters of false facts he's (no doubt unwittingly) passed on. This last is a big problem with the AAT/H, since people can't be expected to read things and immediately know, for instance, that an AAT/H proponent's claims about emotional tears is all wet -- phoney, false, completely untrue. So these "false facts" keep going round and round. Much of my site is devoted to pointing these out.

On credentials:



He's clearly biased and uneducated. I prefer to get my information from informed professionals and not wannabe's.
That goes for proponents of the AAT as well. Alistair Hardy, Desmond Morris, Max Westenhofer and Elaine Morgan
for instance. Professionals.


If you actually do believe this (and it's a foolish thing to believe) you ahve to dismiss virtually everything said by AAT proponents. BTW, you also have to be prepared to dismiss anything discovered or written by any member of the Leakey family. Good luck with all that. :)

Morgan has no formal qualifications, she has a history of finding very good researchers and claiming they said the opposite of what they actually said, of ignoring contrary evidence and altering quotes without indicating they've been altered (and always in ways that suit her position). These are serious problems, but her lack of formal credentials is not the problem.

Hardy was a respected marine biologist but his pattern of extremely silly errors on this subject show that he didn't do his homework once he left his specialty (plankton), who was pretty slapdash and credulous when he ventured into his other interests, such as parapsychology (he believed that telepathy had palyed a role in human evolution -- this was his chief interest during his retirement) and his "aquatic ape" theory (where he made many odd errrors about rather common facts, such as his claiming that the jaws of frogs and humans are shaped similarly, and his not knowing about the diving reflex until the late 1970s -- he thought then it had been a recent discovery when it wasn't; something I'd think a marine biologist might have heard of in passing sometime in the preceding 3 or 4 decades since it had been discovered -- he was also wrong about it being found only in humans and diving animals).

Verhaegen is a medical doctor (although apparently ignorant of the basic physicological fact that normal human body temps vary throughout the day). I haven't yet put much on my site about Verhaegen yet, but his work is full of howlers, such as the rhinos are "predominately aquatic" claim, and his completely false nonsense aboput sea lions and sweat (I have that on my site) and others.

Algis has a masters in anthro, which is good, but I'm afraid that's not a guarantee of accuracy either. I haven't gotten to writing up stuff about his work for my site yet, but I'm afraid he tends to... exaggerate. For instance, he quite often makes a claim that bonobos are bipedal in water 90% of the time. This is based on a zoo study he did in which, out of 5-hours, 37 seconds were spent in water (and those bonobos were actually bipedal on land more than 3 times as much in the same time). He doesn't ask why his short study, compared to studies in the wild (which show variations from 0-24% time in water bipedal varying between diffeent groups of bonobos) is so far off the scale, although that's the first thing one would reasonably do when you get a finding like that. That's not the only overstatement he does, but I'll have to get to those sometime in the future. I've only seen some of his criticisms of my site, but those I have seen are problematic at least.

Westhofer, an anatomist, did his theory in the late 1920s, and it had virtually no influence on the later theory as stated by Hardy or Morgan... or anything else in human evolutionary studies, AFAIK. It does, in evoking Beowulf as evidence of our aquatic past, do something that one sees in Hardy's and Morgan's work, the evoking of the "race memory" idea.

About Morris I can only say that he's got a good rep in animal studies and is considered terrible when it comes to anything connected to humans -- I don't know why he does so badly at it, but he does know, from his work in television, how to tell a good story. A good story is not necessarily an accurate story, unfortunately.

As for someone who doesn't want to read past the first half page of my site before dismissing it; well, that's why I said Orion seems to be a "professional arguer" rather than someone serious. Concerning my bias, I think this passage from the first page of my site goes to that: "Quite frankly, when I first read the work done on the AAT, I saw some big holes in the reasoning, but I did think that the evidence which was (sometimes) given was probably accurately and fully reported. When I started looking these things up, however, I found that I was wrong on that count -- the AAT has proven to be a hotbed of those "false facts" Darwin referred to." Now does reading something and immediately seeing huge holes in the argument make me biased? I guess it does. Is it wrong to be biased against a theory which you immediately see to be full of huge holes? I don't think so. Do you? Does anyone?

Okay, here's what I have from the thread here so far:



And don't forget the webbing we have between our fingers. Apes don't have that.


Wrong. Gorillas do, as do siamangs.



I like the theory for the following reasons... It might explain why babies can swim from birth but take longer to crawl or walk.

(and another poster):


Well, the things is that babies seem to be instinctly capable of swimming.


I mentioned this chestnut in my old Nov 2003 post. This originally came from a 1939 paper which showed that not only humans, but all aniamsl tested had the "infant swimming response". AAT/H proponents never seem to mention the non-human animals (opossum, rat, kitten, rabbit, guinea pig, and rhesus monkey) even though they are mentioned on the same (first) page of this 6-page paper. This instinctive ability is lost after a few months, and note that it's "swimming motions", not swimming, and "at no time did any baby show himself capable of raising his head above the water level for the purpose of breathing".



but voluntarily holding breath when out of the water is unique to cetaceans, seals


Actually, I'm not aware that whales and seals can hold their breath when out of water (maybe they can), although they do, sort of, when diving. I say "sort of" because they actually expel all the air from their lungs when they dive and the oxygen they need is stored in in their blood, which is extremely haemoglobin-rich and very large in volume in relation to their body weight. (Note: in an old post I made here (Nov 2003) I mistakenly said myoglobin-rich blood; myoglobin in seals' and whales' muscles is involved in diving adaptations, but is not the primary carrier of oxygen when they dive.) BTW, here's an interesting tidbit on the subject of holding one's breath: trained humans are fairly good at it, but untrained humans are not as good at it as untrained dogs. Humans do have quite a degree of voluntary breath control which seems to be a side benefit of being predominately bipedal -- it frees up the muscles around the chest which would otherwise be used in locomotion.



Is the AAT just another form of this sort of "adaptationism" run wild?? A just-so story??


It's both adaptionism and enivronmental determinism taken to an extreme.



Name one serious biologist that gives it any serious consideration!

Philip Tobias and Marc Verhaegen, to name two, not to mention Sir Alister Hardy, who came up with the theory in the first place.


Verhaegen is not a biologist -- he's a medical doctor (albiet one with a tenuous grasp on many facts, including some I'd expect a doctor to know, such as the fact that human's normal body temps typically fluctuate during the day). Hardy was a marine biologist, an expert in plankton who was knighted for his contributions to the fishing industry (plankton is key there).

As for Tobias; here's his "support": "Nowhere have I stated, either in print or on a public platform, or on the media, that I support the AAH! I hope that makes my position clear." I just hope I never have to claim "support" like that! :) He has said that Morgan performed a service in shooting down the "savanna theory" but I'm afraid even that does more to illustrate his ignorance of theories of human evolution theories outside of his speciality, which is bones and stones. Anthropological theories for the past several decades at the very least do not hinge on anything like the environmental determinism that the AAT/H does, and that's why there is no actual "savanna hypothesis" except as a strawman used by AAT/H proponents (begun by Morgan and continued by others). The theories put forth deal with social and food-getting behaviors and while they do describe how these could be useful when we moved into additional environments, including savannas (which after all we did come to inhabit along with many other habitats), they bear no resemblance to a "savanna hypothesis". I am fairly aware of the history of those theories since my late wife (who I helped with research and writing) was one of the leading theorists up until her death (along with her work on matriliny, matrifocality, conflict, and law).



There are a handful of mammal lines that are known to have zero swimming ability. Bats are one, rabbits are another


Wrong. Both bats and rabbits can swim. Camels too (you may hear that one) and giraffes (another one you may hear). Chimps seem to swim very rarely -- and I mean very very rarely -- but it's often stated that they can't, and the usual reason given is their relative lack of fat. But there has been at least one obsevation of a chimp swimming (which of course shows they can) and humans with extremely low fat ratios can and do swim. So chimps don't swim much, to say the least, but they can.



Today, two primates when on the ground stand and walk erect somewhat more readily than most other species. One, the proboscis monkey, lives in the mangrove swamps of Borneo. The other is the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee; its habitat includes a large tract of seasonally flooded forest, which would have covered an even more extensive area before the African climate became drier.

Both of these species enjoy the water. It is interesting that the bonobos often mate face-to-face as humans do; in our case it is explained as a consequence of bipedalism. This mode of mating is another characteristic very rare among land animals, which we share with a wide range of aquatic mammals such as dolphins, beavers and sea otters. What we have in common with them is a mode of locomotion in which the spine and the hind limbs are in a straight line, and that affects the position of the sex organs.


Wrong. Sea otters and beavers do not use ventro-ventro copulation -- in the case of sea otters at least I've seen it stated that researchers were somewhat surprised by this as "it would seem simpler". It's also engaged in by orangs, black-handed spider monkeys, and occasionally in woolly spider monkeys and gorillas. And wrong about the proboscis monkey; more on that below.

EDIT: I should've left beavers out of my statement above -- they do, from what I've read, copulate ventro-ventrally, at least apparently when they do so in the water. It's often stated that they always copulate in water, but this is not so, and I haven't got at hand any ref which states whetehr they do so face to face or not -- I'd be inclined to think not, since this is generally the case with most mammals. BTW, I also saw a reference, which I can't confirm at present, that hamsters sometimes copulate ventro-ventrally, which if true would make yet another non-aqautic mammal that does so.


No I didn't. Better recheck your notes. There are only five living ape species. There are atleast two swimming monkeys including the Proboscis monkey. It has a notably large bulbous nose. As do we. The rest of the primates generally have two holes in their faces. Could be a sexual attraction thing. Seems to me such a sheaf of extraneous tissue would aid in keeping water out of the nasal passages.


It's an incredible stretch to describe any ape, monkey, or humans, as "semi-aquatic", at least in the ways the word is used to describe other animals. However, bonobos, gorillas, and contrary to common belief, common chimpanzees, do wade. Bonobos wade quite a lot compared to the others. This all varies according to the individual groups and their immediate environment. Proboscis monkeys and crab-eating macaques are skillful swimmers (indeed all the macaques apparently swim quite well, although they often don't -- depends again on their immediate environment). Of all these primates, only the bonobo uses bipedalism to any great degree, and then only compared to other apes and to monkeys. Contrary to many claims made by AAT/H proponents, they are not generally bipedal when in water (and this varies a lot from study area to study area, with an observed high of 24% of wading time in a bipedal position). Interestingly, the major amount of time spent bipedal in water is that spent feeding, which is also one of the major amounts of time that apes spend bipedal when out of water -- so is it the water or the feeding, or both? AAT/H proponents tend to say it's water, period, which seems to ignore a lot of primate observations.

It has been claimed by AAT/H proponents, following Morgan's lead, that the proboscis monkey very often or usually uses bipedalism when out of water, but actual observations by primatologists say they use bipedalism only as much as other monekys -- the AAT/H claim is simply a made up non-fact. The nose of the proboscis monkey is a sexually selected feature which aids in calling. It lacks a nasal spine and so is only superficially similar to our nose. At any rate, although AAT/H propoents often claim that it would aid in keeping water out of the nose while swimming or diving, this seems unlikely since they hold their noses out of the water while swimming, and they don't dive into the water, they leap in feet first, which would, if anything, drive water up into their noses. Of course, one can keep water out of the nose simply by not breathing in while jumping in or swimming.



A few months after birth the human larynx descends into the throat, right down below the back of the tongue. Darwin found that very puzzling because it means that the opening to the lungs lies side by side with the opening to the stomach. That is why in our species food and drink may sometimes go "down the wrong way". If we had not evolved an elaborate swallowing mechanism it would happen every time.


This misstates the life history of the human larynx rather badly; the larynx does not descend quickly at all. It does so slowly over several years, until about age 3 1/2 to 4 years. Then at puberty in males only it descends further. It has been many times stated that only humans and (a very few) aquatic mammals have a descended larynx, but it's also found in deer species which bugle or give loud calls (that is, red deer and wapita but not white-tailed deer) and, I believe, koalas. The most likely sounding reason for this feature is in calling as a means of making a sound which can be mistaken as a larger creature (which could be useful in defense, I suppose, but seems, according to researchers, more used in sexual selection).

BTW, if this were an aquatic adaptation, we would expect it to happen rapidly rather than so slowly. It is, in fact, one of many features whose life history and differences between the sexes indicate that it is not an aquatic adaptation, plus it's also one of many that the AAT/H claims but which make the theory internally inconsistent. For just a small example of this problem, in the theory the aquatic ape needs to be in salt water to evolve its radically different salt excretion system, but it needs massive amounts of fresh water for this system to be even remotely possible. Babies need to be aquatic to explain their fat, and non-aquatic to explain their larynxes; later, as children, they need to be non-aquatic again to explain their lack of fat and sebaceous glands, and aquatic to explain their larynxes. Women need to be far more aquatic than men to explain their fat and hair differences, but men need to be far more aquatic than women to explain their sebaceous glands. These are not the only examples of this internal inconsistency.

Another thing about the larynx is that I've never heard a satisfactory reason why a change in a feature which lets you accidentally swallow liquids more easily is an "aquatic adaptation".



We also have a different way of sweating from other mammals, using different skin glands. It is very wasteful of the body's essential resources of water and salt. It is therefore unlikely that we acquired it on the savannah, where water and salt are both in short supply.


Actually, although we see some eccrine sweating in African apes, the one place we see eccrine gland sweating most similar to humans is in the savanna-dwelling patas monkey. The sweat glands actually tend to conserve salt, and even in far more arid regions than our ancestors are thought to have lived humans can and do sweat and survive quite well while using the same water getting techniques as chimps have been observed using.



We weep tears of emotion, controlled by different nerves from the ones that cause our eyes to water in response to smoke or dust. No other land animal does this. There are marine birds, marine reptiles and marine mammals which shed water through their eyes, or through special nasal glands, when they have swallowed too much seawater. This process may also be triggered in them by an emotional excitement caused by feeding or fighting or frustration. Weeping animals, apart from ourselves, include the walrus, the seal and the sea otter.


Wrong. Stated by Morgan, and she read the right book for the info, but it's interesting what she reported and what she left out. There are no scientific observations of emotional tears shed by any non-human animal, although there are anecdotal accounts of emotional tears in non-human animals. However, these anecdotal accounts cover both terrestrial and aquatic animals. The book Morgan got this info from (while ignoring the conclusion of the researcher) had a chapter with this info and in order to read all the accounts of aquatic animals while missing all the terrestrial animals would require one to somehow skip whole or partial sentences at random, yet not miss any of the anecdotal accounts of aquatic animals.



We have millions of sebaceous glands which exude oil over head, face and torso, and in young adults often causes acne. The chimpanzee's sebaceous glands are described as "vestigial" whereas ours are described as "enormous". Their purpose is obscure. In other animals the only known function of sebum is that of waterproofing the skin or the fur.


Incorrect. We do have more, and larger, sebaceous glands than apes; we're more in line with lemurs on that score. As for the "only known function" error, in humans as in a great many other mammals these glands are an important source of scent, and in humans their life history and distribution between the sexes indicates that these are a sexually selected trait. In seals these glands are functioning as soon as the critters hit the water; in humans not until puberty. Plus, in seals these glands are coupled with a radically different skin surface than humans have, which makes it possible for the glands to provide some waterproofing.



One factor may have been nutritional. The building of brain tissue, unlike other body tissues, is dependent on an adequate supply of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in the marine food chain but relatively scarce in the land food chain.


The Mayo Clinic points out that DHA (the fatty acid you refer to) besides being available in fish (esp. fatty cold-water fish) is also present in things like wild game (the only kind of meat we ate until very recently of course) and that we synthesize DHA from linolenic acid (LNA), which is available from plant sources. The Mayo Clinic points out that the amount necessary for modern humans is not terribly high ("One tablespoon of vegetable oil easily meets your daily requirements.")

It should also be noted that human infants are not as good as adults at synthesizing DHA from LNA, but this isn't a problem for breast-fed infants since human breast milk is also a good source of DHA. It shouldn't really have to be pointed out that amongst our early ancestors, all infants were breast-fed. And it should be fairly obvious, with just a bit of thinking, that even during our more recent evolutionary history, a great many humans have lived, grown up, and developed normal brains while living in environments where fish (and especially cold-water sea fish) were just not available, and so weren't eaten.

Trivia point: in the post from Jan 19, 2005 Project Orion has a picture labeled "Monkey wading in the Amazon" which I immediately saw was a macaque (an Old World monkey) which looks like it's being/been provisioned, getting what appears to be some cut up fruit. Further trivia: after a Google search I find this is a Crab-eating macaque at Goulds Monkey Jungle, a family-owned wildlife park in Miami -- here's the link: http://www.zoolex.org/zoolexcgi/view.py?id=151

Monkey Jungle is run by DuMond Conservancy and does research and conservation things.



>>And I don't think we are really that slow compared with other great animals. Are gorilla's any faster? Chimpansees?

>Yes, a lot faster.


This is one of those often stated/never backed up statements. It could be true, but I've never seen any proof offered for it. I've even asked primatologists I know if they have or know of any factual information on the subject and they've said no. I suggest that it not be stated as fact unless it can be backed up with facts.

At any rate speed is not a requirement for hominid life even on open plains. We are terrific at endurance and walking efficiently and these are both useful and backed up with actual observations and tests. For a variety of reasons, outlined on my site, we don't need speed to deal with predators, and it's unlikely we relied on speed for dealing with predators.



>But now its your turn. I want incontrovertible evidence of the Savannah hypothesis. Show me your body of proof.


Anthropological theories for the past several decades at the very least do not hinge on the environmental determinism that the AAT/H does, and that's why there is no actual "savanna hypothesis" except as a strawman used by AAT/H proponents (begun by Morgan and continued by others). The theories put forth deal with social and food-getting behaviors and while they do describe how these could be useful when we moved into additional environments, including savannas (which after all we did come to inhabit along with many other habitats), they bear no resemblance to what AAT/H proponents refer to as a "savanna hypothesis".

Project Orion
2005-Mar-21, 05:06 AM
Pete Tattum,

The idea of talking underwater is quite intruiging, I admit. I agree that sound travels faster underwater. But - my own attempts at subaquatic converstaion were very unsuccessful.

We know that other apes and primates can't talk so it seems a safe assumption to assume that our distant forebears in such a situation couldn't do any better. When wading and swimming across hazardous swamp I suspect that any sound communication was strictly limited to grunts. Sign language, the dominant form of communication, was out. Visibility would have been poor and limbs too busy with paddling. So vocal signals were given a higher status and gradually grew in importance. It wouldn't have taken long for clever primates to discover that sound worked better under water than above. Long before sentence structures were developed, useless as your own experiments demonstrated, different signals could only be communicated by varying pitch. Some monkeys do this today. Giving different calls to warn of different predators. This practice of using various short signals to communicate could explain our wide vocal range. That would be my guess anyway.

Fram
2005-Mar-21, 10:51 AM
Fram,

ProjectOrion, I hope you will sometimes respond to factual criticisms with factual and to the point answers, because those are strangely missing from your posts. They would be more productive than the veiled ad hominems you use.

Go ask a computer if you want a series of one's and zero's. I'm not an academic writer who adds lengthy footnotes and uses undecipherable terminology. I like to reach a broader audience than a handful of eggheads in some university basement. I like my writing to be accessible.
Accessible is not the same as insulting, and factual is not the same as filled with footnotes. But I guess your answer here gives a pretty good image of your overall writing style.



You claim that there are three semi-aquatic apes, so we are not the only swimming ape. What sets those three apart from all other apes, not in our behaviour but physically?

No I didn't. Better recheck your notes. There are only five living ape species. There are atleast two swimming monkeys including the Proboscis monkey. It has a notably large bulbous nose. As do we. The rest of the primates generally have two holes in their faces. Could be a sexual attraction thing. Seems to me such a sheaf of extraneous tissue would aid in keeping water out of the nasal passages.
I always mix up apes and monkeys, as we don't have two different words for them in Dutch (we have primates, apes and halfapes, and apes as the collective noun for them). But the main difference between the swimming monkeys and the non swimming monkeys is the nose. Not bipedalism, hairlessness, finger webbing, or brains.



Apart from that, in what way does being bipedal, talking, nearly hairless and super intelligent have anything to do with being (semi-)aquatic?

I don't have enough time to espouse opinions on all those.

In short...

Bipedalism: developed from wading.
Talking: sound travels three times faster in water so would clearly prove advantagious in keeping a group together, warning of predators etc.
Nearly hairless: soaked hair is heavy and would not aid in escaping sharks or crocs. Out of water it can take a long time to dry out, leading to possible pneumonia and death.
Super intelligent: adapting to a new environment is challenging. Dolphins certainly got smarter. It may have stimulated tool development which would have forced our creative processes to develop accordingly.

Talking: so you claim that they talked underwater. So that's not wading then, but swimming and diving. Of course, then the use of the spear as a harpoon would get more complicated (try to throw anything while you're underwater...). So were they wading, throwing spears, and thus mostly with their heads above the water, or were they diving, talking underwater, and thus mostly with their heads underwater?
Tool development underwater? How would you do that? You can perhaps tie things together underwater, but to make an axe or other stone tools would be extremely difficult.
Are sea otters any smarter than land otters? Are proboscis monkeys any smarter? Is the pinguin smarter than the falcon?



And I don't think we are really that slow compared with other great animals. Are gorilla's any faster? Chimpansees?

Yes, a lot faster.
How do you know?




I quit.

But now its your turn. I want incontrovertible evidence of the Savannah hypothesis. Show me your body of proof.
Although this didn't come from me, I'll answer anyway. As has been said before: to argue that the AAT is wrong, we don't have to proof that the Savannah theory is right. Perhaps there is no good theory for the moment. That doesn't matter at all. You don't win because all other theories are wrong, you win because yours is right. In this case, sadly, you lose.

2005-Mar-21, 07:40 PM
Is there any ONE characteristic of the human anatomy that requires the AAT theory for us to possess it?

I have read Morgan's books, but found them to be wholely unconvincing. IMO, there's something Kiplingesque about the way they are presented. Sorry, but I'm not persuaded - not persuaded at all... #-o :o :)

2005-Mar-23, 04:48 AM
Thanks for the lively discussions folks. Wish I could continue chatting but Big Bad Astronomer Phil has thrown a wobbly and asked me to leave. Sorry I've been slow in getting to all the posts directed at me but I only allow myself an hour a week to play on the internet and there just wasn't time. Especially with the mountains of email that keep building up. Much as I would dearly love to tackle some of the comments above, I feel that the BA, who lets face it is on a hair trigger at the best of times, would take offence. So instead of using countless user names I'll say goodbye. Enjoy your discussions and keep an open mind guys.

captain swoop
2005-Mar-23, 09:06 AM
I'msurprised you lasted as long as you did.

marc verhaegen
2014-Feb-23, 02:51 PM
Is there any ONE characteristic of the human anatomy that requires the AAT theory for us to possess it?

I have read Morgan's books, but found them to be wholely unconvincing. IMO, there's something Kiplingesque about the way they are presented. Sorry, but I'm not persuaded - not persuaded at all... #-o :o :)

Thanks a lot. Sorry to intervene, but I just saw this old discussion & felt I had to say something, since thediscussions here are very much outdated.
Elaine Morgan's works are indeed not very convincing, but we have to look at the recent information.
More correct terms than "aquatic ape theory" are "littoral theory", and it didn't have anything specifically to do with the australopiths (who were fossil relatives of chimps-humans-gorillas), but with only with the genus Homo, and it didn't happen 6 mill.yrs ago as Elaine thought, but AFAWK less than 2 mill.yrs, when during the glacials sea-levels dropped and archaic Homo populations could colonize the new territories on the continental shelves along the Indian Ocean etc., google "misconceptions Verhaegen".
Rather than running over open plains as some popular & conventional views of human evolution still believe, archaic Homo populations during the Ice Ages (Pleistocene) simply followed coasts & rivers, collecting different waterside & shallow aquatic plant & animal foods, including stranded whales & carcasses of drowned ungulates.

Human Evolution is publishing the proceedings of the symposium on human waterside evolution "Human Evolution: Past, Present & Future" (London 8-10 May 2013, with David Attenborough & Don Johanson):
Special Edition Part 1 (end 2013)
- Peter Rhys-Evans: Introduction
- Stephen Oppenheimer: Human's Association with Water Bodies: the 'Exaggerated Diving Reflex' and its Relationship with the Evolutionary Allometry of Human Pelvic and Brain Sizes
- JH Langdon: Human Ecological Breadth: Why Neither Savanna nor Aquatic Hypotheses can Hold Water
- Stephen Munro: Endurance Running versus Underwater Foraging: an Anatomical and Palaeoecological Perspective
- Algis Kuliukas: Wading Hypotheses of the Origin of Human Bipedalism
- Marc Verhaegen: The Aquatic Ape Evolves: Common Misconceptions and Unproven Assumptions about the So-Called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
- CL Broadhurst & Michael Crawford: The Epigenetic Emergence of Culture at the Coastline: Interaction of Genes, Nutrition, Environment and Demography
Special Edition Part 2 (begin 2014) with 12 contributions.
Google:
- econiche Homo
- aquarboreal
- Laden misconceptions Verhaegen
- Rhys Evans Vaneechoutte
marc verhaegen
tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/AAT

profloater
2014-Feb-26, 08:51 PM
Here's a fact, not yet mentioned, I think, on speed reading this thread; Humans have a skin transport pathway, (not leakage!) for absorbing magnesium sulphate. Personally I cannot see an evolutionary reason except for a long time as littoral animals. There's plenty of that salt in the sea and skin absorption is an excellent way to get this essential mineral. So I think that is physiological evidence, but one caveat, we could have retained that ability from earlier life forms. It was discovered by research at Birmingham University.