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.
Hairless does not have to be explained. Just so stories are not science. Seals have fur. Whales do not. It is not an absolute for living in the water.
I have a better just so story. Using fire. Fur burns and kills off the hairiest first.
Hairlessness is very important since it stands us out. I personally do not like the aquatic ape theory, there is no mundane-ness to it.
I much prefer the fact that we changed from nomadic (as gorillas and chimps now) to settled. The reason the chimps and gorillas move is because they soon get inundated by insect pests.
We settled more and the insect problem would have been a constant battle. Hence cleanliness and hairlessness became major weapons in the fight to stay settled.
Very very intriguing. There are a number of human idiosyncrasies that are not well explained and that leaves the door open to conjecture such as this aquatic ape idea; ancient astronaut proponents also love to jump into these gaps.
I definitely see some room for aquatic factors in our evolution, although I'm not sure just what sort of environment the AAH people are advocating. Certainly our ability to dive has provided us with tremendous advantage in many instances - oyster harvests by island dwellers being just one example. Perhaps the amphibious ape would be a better explanation, being able to move in and out of water to escape either tigers or crocodiles as necessity dictated. Our versatility in crossing land & water certainly lent us extended range, limiting the sort of speciation that occurred between chimps & bonobos. I'm interested to see if some aspects of AAH aren't incorporated in the near future.
I heard an interesting factoid recently (perhaps it was on that History Channel mermaids show). Of all terrestrial mammals, man can hold his breath underwater the longest. I believe the record is some 20 minutes. Twenty seconds is more my own speed.