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.

 

Tags: Ape, Aquatic, Elaine Morgan, Hypothesis, TED, TED Talks,

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I saw this a while ago and vaguely remember the suggestion about aquatic behaviors reducing body hair. I didn't give it much thought because what made more sense is the savanna theory of losing hair, gaining sweat glands, and being able to stay upright for long periods of time and carry weapons and water in order to outmaneuver and out-endure game on the run.

In the last quarter million years or so, two very different types of human evolution (genetic and cultural) affected each other's course. Vocal communication is a prime example of this. Vocal tract characteristics enhanced as brain areas specialized to speak and hear abstract patterns. Add new abilities to make tools and fire, and teach others about them. I wouldn't be surprised if bipedalism and hair loss could be explained by multiple environmental circumstances we faced over long periods of time, as our abilities to migrate across and adapt to various geography also increased quickly.

(Along the lines of aquatic theory, I remember people thinking it might help to explain an enhanced ability to control breath voluntarily, which could also enhance vocal control. I don't know if I believe that, but it's still an interesting idea. To me.)

Most theories about the interplay of genetic vs cultural evolution are obviously highly speculative, but I'd rather hear about the speculation than not. Science is about getting it right, eventually, but in the meantime there's a lot of necessary speculation. I like hearing other ideas and speculation, short of a live anthropologist stepping into TA and speaking up.

Fascinating!  Makes sense to me!  I love the water & swimming!

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