Elaine Morgan is a tenacious proponent of the aquatic ape hypothesis: the idea that humans evolved from primate ancestors who dwelt in watery habitats. Hear her spirited defense of the idea -- and her theory on why mainstream science doesn't take it seriously. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the "Sixth Sense" wearable tech, and "Lost" producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

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Comment by Monika on July 31, 2009 at 11:42pm

I kept waiting for her evidence too, but she had none. But maybe she just wants somebody to take her idea and take a different approach.
Comment by Dave G on July 31, 2009 at 11:48pm
I wonder what her opinion of the hypothesis that humans are apes that stayed at the juvenile stage, rather than continuing on to adulthood.
Comment by Dave G on August 1, 2009 at 12:41am
@Michel - It comes up in The Ancestor's Tale, as I recall. Basically, as I understand it, in some species, speciation has occurred when sexual maturity occurs early, when still in the juvenile stage. This has been observed in certain amphibians, for example.

Now, a juvenile chimp's skull has many similarities to a juvenile human skull, and also to an adult human skull, but an adult chimp skull is notably different from an adult human skull. The hypothesis is that the evolutionary line that led to humanity (and its closer, extinct cousins) branched off when sexual maturity developed earlier in the life cycle, leading to a permanent juvenile state.

I may be getting some of the details wrong, I just read about this hypothesis for the first time myself a couple of weeks ago, and have not had a chance to do more research into it.
Comment by Dave G on August 2, 2009 at 12:15am
Now, sure. But a few million years ago? Who knows.


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