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.


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Thanks, now I feel itchy.
LOL, you're welcome. I had lice in the 2nd grade on numerous occasions. The parents of another girl in my class were in denial that their child had lice and wouldn't fixed the problem. She was eventually suspended until she had a doctor's note saying she was free of the bugs. Anywho, it was one of the worst experiences of my childhood. SO ITCHY!!

As someone who previously removed head lice for a living (yuck, I know) I've gotta make sure I correct you. :)

Bed bugs are not lice; they're not related.

There are three types of lice, however: head, body, and pubic (crabs). Body lice actually live in clothing, and lay their eggs there, and leave the clothes to feed. They are a problem for people who don't have access to a washer/dryer... homeless folks, refugees, soldiers on the field (esp way back when... body lice brought down Napolean's army... because they actually do spread disease, while head lice definitely do not spread disease). They're very uncommon, at least in first world countries.

However, Dawkins enlightened me by mentioning in his book (The Greatest Show on Earth) that human lice (the three varietals) are actually descended from crustaceans... which might actually explain their initial origin.

The aforementioned lice species can only live on humans, but humans are not the only animals to host lice. Even fish can have lice! 

Could be something to this aquatic ape idea!



Is this unique to human babies? Do all other species inhale water and die? Ad hoc argumentation without context.

There's a new study out (sorry, no links - why would anyone ever think this topic would come up in conversation someday?) that indicates that pubic lice, or "crabs," actually evolved in humans from lice typically found only on gorillas, making me wonder if, at some point in time, we all belonged to a group known as, "Primate Mingle."

I have to add this too. I'm in the process of reading Dawkins' "The Ancestor's Tale" and as I was reading a few moments ago, he mentions this theory..but only for a moment...


"Other hypothesis of bipedal evolution invoke the benefits of height , perhaps standing upright to look over long grass; or to keep the head above water while wading. This last is the imaginative 'aquatic ape' theory of Alister Hardy, ably championed by Elaine Morgan." 


He then goes on to talk about other theories related to bipedalism. It seems to me that Dawkins favors the 'taking food home' theory as to why we began walking on 2 legs. 

Why does bipedal have to be explained in humans with something special but not for some dinosaurs, birds, or kangaroos? Were they all aquatic?

Evolution does NOT have a purpose, EVER! Even Dawkins is screwed up here if that is what he wrote. Began walking and thus were able to carry food NOT vice versa. Besides, what is "home" in the context of roving groups who travel to food? Inventing the idea of a home 5mya? Please.

Evolution does have a purpose, kind of.  Traits that occur that improve a species' chances of survival will flourish, whereas those that reduce the chance of survival die out.  Therefore if being able to carry food back to a family group improved the survival rate then that train of evolution would continue and thrive through dominant genes and taught behaviours.

That is not a purpose. From the top.

Evolution is the variation of allele frequency within a population. An allele is why children of the same sex of the same parent are not identical. They will be different heights. If taller means more children the children will be taller in general. That is all there is. Read Dawkins professional papers to learn of speciation in isolation which is a separate issue.

As to the carry back food thing that has to mean there was a place to carry back food to. All primates move as a group to where the food is. There is place to carry back to. Thousands of non-primate species move to where the food is just like primates. They do not have homes either.

As to carrying food, fill your hands. That is the most you can carry. Now invent baskets in addition to homes FIRST and you might have something but it would very much reverse every concept of human evolution. But if you do reverse it, women are the gatherers who have the baskets who carry food back to their homes. That inverts just about every concept of human evolution. I have no problem with that but I want to see the physical evidence not listen to worthless argumentation.

"Since I hadn't heard of this, I'm curious as to solid refutations of the idea."

It is about as scientific as religion. Humbug presented by highly entertaining people. Her original book has a total of 53 scientific citations (a mere 13 since 2005) including being ripped apart in the prestigious New Scientist. 

"Anyone discussed it at length in a class?"

Not in class, but I did once ask a professor of evolutionary biology about it. She just rolled her eyes at me, interpret it however you wish. I did not dig further.

"Any chance they fit any part of Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?"

Ardi and Lucy were both found in land-locked Ethiopia. So I'd say that it would be highly unlikely.

"Any chance of cross breeding and keeping us as one species while some of these changes happened?"

Yes, but in the same probability category as God.

I dislike that everyone is so close minded about this. I too just learned about this hypothesis and believe there might be something to it. Coastal faring ape-like creatures needed to adapt to their newly found environment. They change slightly to to be more adept at swimming and catching fish. They begin exploring, mate with landlocked ape-like creatures and we get a mixture of the two. I don't know how this is so impossible to believe or fathom. It really does seem that everyone in the scientific community adheres to the status quo a bit too fervently, terrifyingly reminiscent of another group that can't allow their long held beliefs to be questioned. Just in the past couple of hours of reading I've become very dismayed with the scientific community at large for being so jaded and pig-headed about a hypothesis that might have some merit. Anyone else agree?


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