I loaded a bunch of TED Talks on my IPod for a recent trip. One of them was by Elaine Morgan. She's a proponent of the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. I hadn't ever heard of this. The basic premise is that if we had evolved in the water for some part of our evolution, it would explain a few issues such as the difficulties in beginning to walk bipedally, what happened to our hair, our hooded noses, narrow shoulders, subcutaneous fat, etc. It's really an interesting talk. She's a strong advocate and borderline indignant about science's wide rejection of the hypothesis.
Since I hadn't heard of this, I'm curious as to solid refutations of the idea. Anyone discussed it at length in a class? Read a great paper on it? Off hand, my brain is trying to wrap itself around the timeline of Ardi and Lucy being bi-pedal, Any chance they fit any part of Aquatic Ape Hypothesis? Any chance of cross breeding and keeping us as one species while some of these changes happened? I'd like to get a better understanding of this if someone feels like they have a grasp on it.
Here is the vid and the Wiki-link which includes criticism of it.
I'm not saying that you are inferring Aquaman, just that there is a big body of aquatic mythology of which science would be prudent to steer clear. The problem with this theory is that, even if true, the fossil record may never reveal any evidence. We are talking mostly about soft tissue changes that just wouldn't be preserved by fossilization. That being said, where would one even begin the search?
On some matters science simply has to say, "We don't know". Intellectual honesty demands it. Inserting things like AAH would be akin to inserting ID, and there is a commitment to intellectual integrity that may come across as stodgy but truth demands that stodginess. There is no reason to avoid holding the idea on a back burner, but without solid evidence there is just no room for it at the front of the stove.
Rule of thumb: the writer implies; the reader infers.
The all wet ape thing does not differ significantly from just-so stories such as how the tiger got his stripes. It does not look at the fossil evidence at all. Rather it starts with water and then imagine a water related reason for physical features.
Take the nose which this "hypothesis" claims has to do with keeping water out. If one were to find noses on ever species that breathes air and much of its life in water that would be a great point. So why ignore the fact that only humans have noses?
Other animals have the same experience as tigers but do not have stripes.
Regarding noses, there are better adaptations to prevent water coming in than developing nose like the ability to seal off one's nostrils and we can see that in see lions and manatees.
Actually, to quote, "Humans seem hairless not because of a lack of follicles but because of the predominance of vellus fibers which are thinner, shorter, and more transparent than terminal fibers. The density of human hair follicles on the skin is about the average for an animal of equivalent size."
One hypothesis for the reduced size etc. of human body hair seems to involve running.
I'm guessing sexual selection played a part as well. Less hair = easier to see the condition of your potential mate. Might also explain why different ethnicities have different rates of hairiness. Also, less all-over body bugs.
"Another hypothesis for the thick body hair on humans proposes that Fisherian runaway sexual selection played a role (as well as in the selection of long head hair), (see types of hair and vellus hair), as well as a much larger role of testosterone in men. Sexual selection is the only theory thus far that explains the sexual dimorphism seen in the hair patterns of men and women. On average, men have more body hair than women. Males have more terminal hair, especially on the face, chest, abdomen, and back, and females have more vellus hair, which is less visible. The halting of hair development at a juvenile stage, vellus hair, would also be consistent with the neoteny evident in humans, especially in females, and thus they could have occurred at the same time."
I've always wondered if there were primitive men and women tripping on their hair before sharp objects were invented, or if head hair that grows past our feet is a relatively new characteristic, perhaps a secondary trait of sexual selection?
Regardless, interesting stuff. I enjoyed the aquatic ape ted talk as well as the refresher on the weirdness of human hair (or lackthereof).
Watched "Mermaids: The Body Found" last night.
Anyone else see it?
It's fun in an entertainment value sort of way.
I thought I'd resurrect the conversation.
Nothing like a zombie discussion years in the making.......
Really, I'm only sad because I didn't get to see a mermaid riding a narwhal.
The All Wet Ape crackpot thing made the rounds about 20 years ago. This is just a resurrection of it. The only reason to spend time on it is to learn why it is crackpot.
There is evidence to suggest that at one point in our species' history, we came very near extinction, surviving in two small bands, numbering about 600 individuals total. One group lived on the coast of South Africa, while the other occupied the coastal regions of Eastern Africa, near Madagascar, and in both instances, their diet consisted mainly of fish and other seafoods. What effect daily exposure to the sea may have had on our evolution, I can't say, but I can say that the dolphin was a land-based mammal, about the size and shape of a wolf, that spent so much time in the sea, harvesting food, that evolution worked to make that process more efficient.