Aquatic ape hypothesis and other waterside hypotheses of human evolution

Discussion in 'The Cesspool' started by CEngelbrecht, Sep 20, 2014.

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  1. CEngelbrecht Registered Senior Member

    I'm trying desperately to find a decent debate environment for discussing the so-called waterside hypotheses of human evolution, where as most people know the concept via the aquatic ape hypothesis. I've given up both, which is generally awful, and, which has resorted to indiscriminately throw the entire topic to pseudoscience, which I have to say I see as an insult to all human effort into new scientific discovery. Now I might as well try here.

    I've been trying and trying for years, really wringing my brain, to understand how come this topic is at worst considered blatant pseudoscience, at best unsupported by evidence, this by relevant academic experts at large, particularly anthropologists. Scientifically trained people, that refuse to see any validity in arguing e.g. extant human bipedalism, near-furlessness, speech, bathing behavior, abundant brain-selective nutrients in seafood, hooded nose, obese offspring, benefits of water birth and inherent breath hold diving capability (just to mention a few presented arguments) as aquatic adaptations from selective pressure during human evolution. I honestly just don't get this continuous fierce rejection.

    I'm talking of course about the internal consensus amongst the proponents of this idea, e.g. the late Alister Hardy and Elaine Morgan, plus contemporaries like Algis Kuliukas, Marc Verhaegen, Stephen Cunnane, C. Leigh Broadhurst, Nicole and Renate Bender and others, which all consider a waterside scenario for the potential human aquatic evolution in recent million years. It seems that somehow the general notion amongst outsiders, and unfortunately many trained academics, is to think that these aquatic ideas are arguing some ape creature in recent human evolution, that lived full time in the world seas. And in this, Animal Planet's two mockumentaries about speculated, folklore mermaids (!!!) in the world seas, making use of parts of the aquatic argumentation, doesn't exactly help to ease the confusion. Everything beyond that just becomes misinformation and nonsense sensationalism about "the secret sea apes", which quite frankly is extremely frustrating for those, who are informed as to what the hell is actually being argued. None of the above mentioned contemporary proponents are arguing anything near as aquatic as e.g. dolphins and seals in recent human evolution, but closer to the aquatic levels of e.g. extant hippos and sea otters. At most.

    Based on all that, can somebody please explain to me, as if I was five years old, why oh why it is such scientific folly to even suggest, that humans in evolutionary terms are old beach apes?

    Graphic illustrating the contemporary aquatic arguments here (some arguments are better than others):
    commons wikimedia org /wiki/File:Human_Aquatic_Adaptations.png

    A few neutral (quite frankly a rarity) presentations:
    youtube com /watch?v=uTe9qVEAcXk
    veoh com /watch/v6288724SdYwPZTP
    youtube com /watch?v=mFRYtPQfyCk
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  3. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Hi again:

    The hypothesis has nothing inherently wrong with it.
    As far back as the archaeological record can take us, we see sea shore human activity via midden piles of oyster shells.
    The problem is/was that the hypothesis is virtually untestable beyond a few 10s of thousands of years. We simply do not have enough information to say yes or no.
    That problem has not stood in the way of some extraordinary claims which have been accepted with no proof within the anthropological/archaeological community(eg: clovis first, migration via the ice free corridor, the agricultural/neolithic revolution, nauseum.. Why this hypothesis is different remains unanswered.

    Why the hostility?
    Anyone's guess, but here, we leave anthropology/archaeology and enter the vagueries of psychology.

    Keep trying, maybe I'll learn something new here
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  5. cornel Registered Senior Member

    Believers gonna believe, critics gonna critic.
    Science has a large focus on evidence, without it, well, we're technically not realy talking science anymore.
    Why not write out the hypothesis instead btw ? I'm sure there 'll be plenty who will argue against it etcetera, but in sciforums, you must know how to ignore those.
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  7. Bells Staff Member

    Mod Note

    The problem with the aquatic ape hypothesis is the absolute lack of evidence.

    There are no real benefits to water birth, aside from as a relaxation and using the water to relieve pressure on the woman's lower back during her contractions, something that a back massage and hot water bottle against the back does just as well. Our breath holding ability is not really that great compared to other land bound and water using mammals and the so called brain selective nutrients in seafood is hardly evidence that we evolved from aquatic apes.

    Apart from the methodological flaws inherent in such cocktail-party theorising, the aquatic ape idea is plagued by several other problems.

    First: none of the features proposed to support the idea evolved together. The ancestors of humans became bipedal at least five million years ago, but our fondness for seafood is much more recent, emerging, as far as we know, with the origin of our own species around 200,000 years ago.

    Second: basing deep evolutionary hypotheses on superficial details of soft-part anatomy is always risky, partly because we know little about when that anatomy evolved. It is possible, even likely, that the distribution of body hair and subcutaneous fat in modern humans evolved very recently and is influenced by sexual selection. This would explain why men and women differ so dramatically in these two attributes. As I discuss (with tongue firmly in cheek) in my forthcoming book The Accidental Species, sexual selection could explain other things too, such as the prominence of female breasts, the size of the penis, and even why we are bipeds.

    Third: some of the features proposed to be relics from our watery past aren't unique to humans. The air-spaces in our skulls, the sinuses, might have been buoyancy aids – but as Paul Z. Myers explains, sinuses are found in all mammals, aquatic or not.

    Fourth: you'd be surprised how difficult it is to use anatomy to infer the behaviour of an animal. You'd never guess from their anatomy that goats, with their spindly legs, lack of opposable digits or prehensile tail, are experts at climbing trees.

    But most importantly, there is no fossil record to support the aquatic ape hypothesis.

    I understand that you are offended and upset that other forums have moved such discussions to the pseudoscience subforum. I am sorry to say that this thread will be moved to the Alternative Theories subforum. There are a few reasons for this.

    1) Due to the lack of any evidence to support this hypothesis, you would be hard pressed to provide evidence when people here would demand it, and demand it they would.
    2) As a hypothesis with no fossil evidence to back it up, the Alternative Theories sub-forum will allow you some leeway to make your argument with what evidence you do have for your claims. You will need to be prepared to support your claims instead of just relying on things like the breath holding abilities, etc, which exist in most mammals, some better than others and the hairlessness argument which can be easily counted by looking at otters and beavers..

    This is not a malicious decision or because I disagree with the aquatic ape hypothesis. It is solely because it is just that, a hypothesis that is not supported by any evidence by way of fossil record or even biology at this point, to support it. If evidence is discovered in the future that supports this theory, then such discussions will then find their place in the science forums instead of pseudoscience or alternative theories. Human evolution has a lot of supporting fossil records, but none of it points or even indicates an aquatic existence as aquatic ape theorists try to argue.
  8. CEngelbrecht Registered Senior Member

    It's not a question of belief, but a question of trying to put the human being in its proper biological box. Scientific consensus is that humans are apes, and yet we differ greatly from our nearest genetic cousins - chimps, gorillas, orangutans - in terms of our physiology, biochemistry and in some respects our ethology. In terms of trying to discern the selective cause for those profound differences, for instance bipedalism, furlessness, our much larger brain, etc., some have found analogies to such traits in aquatic, semiaquatic and former semiaquatic species (e.g. elephants are posited as former semiaquatic species), this also called convergent evolution. For instance, furlessness is a common adaptation seen in aquatic mammals, e.g. hippos, dolphins, etc. Which would lend our species Homo sapiens to have underwent a key period of semiaquatic life in recent million years, rather than the traditional posited savannah existence, where it is difficult if not impossible to find similar convergences among grassland species. It's not impossible, that humans have lived in the savannah as well at brief spurts, but such an existence cannot explain the many traits that sets us apart from the other apes, where as a partially aquatic one can.

    But this topic has already been relocated to 'alternative', which is exactly the same as pseudoscience. A gross insult to free thought if I've ever seen one. The moderators here are grossly prejudicial as well, and you can't fight such pigheadedness while looking for a sound debate. To keep saying that the waterside ideas are not supported by evidence is a fallous mantra, 'cause the concept wouldn't exist without the above posited evidence.

    How we ever got past thinking the world is flat is beyond me sometimes. Goodbye.
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Warm water bottles
    hmm would finding a 3 million year old warm water bottle finally disprove the aquatic ape hypothesis?

    Fossil record: What evidence in the fossil record would/could be found to prove or disprove the aquatic ape hypothesis?
    I can think of none.

    While studying anthro/archaeo a rather arrogant professor stated "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."
    To which, I responded: "Unless they are yours." (we were talking about "migration through the ice free corridor" vs along the seashore, and edge of the ice and he was seriously stuck on the "ice free corridor" hypothesis)

    If you/we had a thread dedicated to anthropology/archaeology, then the hypothesis in question would fit quite nicely in there.
    Much anthropological hypotheses remain quite speculative.
    Again, we simply do not have enough evidence. (Keep digging my friends.)
  10. Bells Staff Member

    And then when you look at mammals that spend so much time in the water that have fur, such as beavers and otters, the 'we lost our fur' because dolphins are also hairless/fur less kind of goes right out the window. And I will touch back on the unrealistic argument about furlessness in one second..

    There is also the fact that had we evolved from aquatic apes, then there would be fossils to support this. There is none. Absolutely none. Our lungs are not adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, nor are our bodies. We have to exert an extreme amount of energy to swim with speed and we cannot hold our breath underwater for more than a few minutes at a time without drowning. And that's just for starters. Even our hearing and eyesight suffer when under water. Our digits show now form of webbing to indicate that we descended from the so called aquatic apes. The furlessness comment often relied upon by proponents of the aquatic ape hypothesis is wrong.

    If we look around us, we know that not all humans have extremely long head hair, even when it is allowed to grow without being cut, and not all humans have little or no body hair. Yet both these characteristics are said to be explained by an aquatic period in our ancient past, long before the species Homo sapiens sapiens arose. Here again is the problem with that view:

    1. We know that humans today are one single species.
    2. We know that humans today vary in body hairiness, and in length of head hair.
    3. We know that these characteristics vary regionally.

    Consequently, we know that this variation post-dates the transition to our species, so we know this sort of variation can and did arise within a few tens of thousands of years.

    Therefore, since we see that either of these characteristics can come and/or go that quickly (a few 10s of thousands of years or less), any theory claiming it happened during the transition from common ancestor to hominid can only be an unwarranted assumption. Yet this is what the AAT/H states, and this unwarranted assumption is what AAT/H proponents consider a key piece of evidence for their view.

    The change from the ancestral characteristics of body and head hair -- whatever those characteristics might have been -- may have happened first during the timespan of Homo sapiens sapiens, or it is possible that it changed and rechanged many times before that. But we do know that it can, and did, change quickly, and that it has changed during the timespan of our species.

    So besides the intractable problem that changes in body hair would be insignificant in terms of swimming speed, the speculation in the AAT/H about how these hair characteristics changed has three basic problems:

    1. In both cases, the AAT/H speculates a change into a characteristic which is not a characteristic of our species, just of some members of our species; and
    2. since we know these characteristics changed during the span of our species, the AAT/H explanation that it happened millions of years before that must be incorrect; unless
    3. it's treated as a sort of nonsense speculation, like speculating that we may have had stripes for a few million years but they disappeared without a trace.

    There is a plethora of factual inaccuracies with the AAH (aquatic ape hypothesis) and frankly, most of it sounds like it's from a fairytale (refer to any comments or arguments made about mermaids in that regard)..

    The changes the supporters of the AAH claim happened millions of years ago actually happened in the last few hundred thousand years. Losing the fur/hair for one. There is also the fact that we are adapted to life in the savannah and above water and wholly unadapted to life in water.

    What you claim are traits that set us apart from other apes, we actually share with apes and with many other mammals (land locked at that).

    It is a gross insult to science and evolutionary science to demand that a hypothesis with no evidence aside from the imaginings of Max Westenhöfer, who was also into pushing pure German racial hygiene prior to WWII, right before he came up with the aquatic ape theory.

    That is because you not only have no evidence, but the very claims of AAH are bunk in that it fails spectacularly in many ways, timeline of human evolution being a primary one at that and also because it should be blatantly obvious that we evolved on land, not in water. You are certainly free to your opinion about this hypothesis. But it is not scientific and has no basis in science due to the absolute lack of evidence to support it. Instead, evidence of human evolution contradicts AAH.
  11. CEngelbrecht Registered Senior Member

    Furlessness or no furlessness in aquatic mammals depends on two factors: Size of the mammal, and the climate belt it inhabits. A large tropical aquatic like the hippo is furless, while a small temperate aquatic like the sea otter is furry. Humans are mid sized tropical mammmals, so if they were semiaquatic during their evolution, what would they be expected to be, furless or furry? And what are they observably?

    And you can't claim, that there is no fossil evidence for waterside ideas, when all early hominin fossils are found from then shoreline sediments. Even preservation bias notwithstanding, it still would explain why we don't found chimp and gorilla ancestors to speak of, if they lived in woodland, and humans lived at watersides. 'Cause hominins would be much more likely to fossilize simply because of a semiaquatic lifestyle.

    The differences in dates between various traits developing during human evolution has already been explained, e.g. in terms of emergence of bipedalism versus the growth of the Homo brain. In short, bipedalism emerged in hinterland freshwater habitats as a wading adaptation (e.g. Lake Megachad with Sahelanthropus 7mya), while the growth of the brain needs a saline environment to gain access to the brain selective nutrients, which biochemists observes, that the extant human brain needs today. Basically, we couldn't have evolved the big brain, for instance with Homo erectus 2.5mya being a big jump up towards a liter of brain, without access to a series of nutrients, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Iodine, which are available in marine foods (DHA is created by various algae species in marine foodchains), but not from freshwater or indeed any terrestrial foods. That we couldn't have gotten a big brain without consistent consumption of seafood for hundreds of thousands of years, e.g. clams and oysters being likely sources, that alone is enough to stop calling this idea pseudoscience and similar nonsense. It is a helluva lot more parsimonous proposition than positing that we somehow evolved our unique traits in either woodland or grassland.

    But aparently, you still can't discuss these interesting angles on the human past without being labeled pseudoscience or the like. It is nothing of the sort, it is sound science, and has always been, for half a century now. What it is, is plagued by sneering prejudice from history and habit. I doubt what ever moderator even read past the headline of this thread, before derailing it. And that is so excruciatingly frustrating, when one is properly informed about the posits. That makes a sound person conclude, that we haven't moved a single step since Copernicus. So I'm not gonna waste any more time here. Y'all keep on wondering in the dark.
  12. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    The 'Aquatic Ape hypothesis' was presented, examined and found to be wanting in many areas. The more time that goes by the less plausible it seems.

    Not moved a step since Copernicus? The computer you are tip-tacking on leads me to believe that you are prone to hyperbole.

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  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    It seems that most who would dismiss the The aquatic ape hypothesis( (AAH), often also referred to as aquatic ape theory (AAT) is a proposal that the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans spent a period of time adapting to a semiaquatic existence,)
    are shooting down straw men without commenting on "adapting to a semiaquatic existence."

    The oldest shell middens in the world(that we have studied) are about 140,000 years old. Considering the fluctuations in sea level, that's pretty good.
    That is pretty convincing archaeological evidence for adapting to a semi aquatic existence at least 104kybp.

    As re fossil evidence:
    semi aquatic----not aquatic

    what fossil evidence could disavow a semi aquatic existence?
    what fossil evidence could disavow the savanna hypothesis?

    Do not confuse absence of evidence with evidence of absence.

    The only truly scientific response would be: We simply do not know one way or another from the extant evidence.
    All else is bias and opinion.

    The Archaeology of Human Origins: Papers by Glynn Isaac describes a shell midden associated with mousterian tools which most likely pushes taking advantage of that resource back to neanderthalensis at least.

    In the last few years, studies into shell middens have blossomed from studies into paleo diets into studies of paleoclimates and environment.

    really great stuff
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
  14. Bells Staff Member

    Which is why I said earlier that if evidence comes to light to support the AAH, then it will gladly find its way within to the science forums of this and other sites. Until then, it is an alternative theory as opposed to the more established, researched and evidence supported 'theory of evolution', for lack of a better term.

    Fossil records point towards a savannah existence and evolution. The AAH states that it was a coastal existence (refer to the arguments made about seafood, etc, that proponents of the hypothesis tend to refer to). There is no evidence that we lived in the sea or spent that much time in the sea or any large periods of time living in large bodies of water. Far from it, our current state clearly shows that no such thing happened as if we had evolved from an aquatic or semi-aquatic ancestors, we would have much more to show for it than just having little hair on our bodies, although having said that, the AAH also discounts people who are hairy all over.

    There is no fossil record or fossil evidence of even a semi-aquatic existence.

    When you consider that the water and bodies of water were teeming with dangerous aquatic wildlife and our inability to swim fast, there is no evidence that we evolved in such an environment.

    While I understand our neighbour's frustration and anger that his hypothesis has been placed in an alternative theory, at present it is just that, an alternative theory.


    But we aren't 'furless'. Many many people are distinctly hairy and we also have a lot of hair and hairy bits.

    The loss of our body hair or fur, if you will, is in no way indicative of an aquatic or semi-aquatic existence. We are not streamlined or built for an aquatic existence. Far from it, we are slow and awkward in the water compared to aquatic mammals. Even the furry ones. And the loss of body fur or hair is a much more recent event, not at all indicative of the semi-aquatic or aquatic ape that was the so called missing link which the AAH argues for from millions of years ago.

    Yes, of rivers and streams. This is still not indicative of an aquatic existence. Far from it. Any tools found around the fossils point directly to a land based existence.

    In fact all hominid sites earlier than around 3 million years appear to represent woodland of an open or closed nature. It appears quite evident now that our "descent from the trees" didn't take us out of the woods. As the present evidence continues to develop, the Aquatic Ape debate gets farther and farther from relevance.

    The fact that we are not great swimmers and have to learn to swim and we are slow and would be easy pickings for aquatic predators, we can't hold our breath, we have to expend vast amounts of energy to swim with any speed, our vision and hearing is terrible under water.... I mean really, that alone should put the argument to bed.


    This is related to the fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and LNA (linolenic acid), often referred to as Omega-3 fatty acids. They are indeed needed for brain growth, but there are a couple of major fallacies promoted in saying that this requirement is evidence for an aquatic past. In regard to these fatty acids, Crawford and Cunnane are trying to do something good, but are apparently seriously ignorant of evolutionary theory. The good thing they want to do is push the addition of DHA into foods, such as milk and eggs, much as we have long added vitamin D to milk. This is useful because many people don't eat the kind of diet that would give them a proper dose of DHA or LNA, as our ancestors' diets would. The push for additional DHA in modern diets is overall a good one, in my opinion, but in trying to tie this laudable goal in with a dubious theory, they do themselves no favors.

    The argument, in short, is as follows (and contains a classic logical flaw):

    DHA is a requirement for normal human brain development
    DHA is abundant in fish
    hominids needed to eat fish for normal brain development

    The first two statements are true -- definitely true, absolutely no question about it. But the third statement is false. The reason the third statement can be false even though the first two statements are true is that the argument is missing information (Fallacy of Exclusion) which makes it seem as though the only place where enough DHA is present is at the shore. And in fact Crawford at least has explicitly (and quite falsely) claimed that "the only place you can do that is at the seashore". This claim just isn't true.

    First, we don't really need loads of DHA, and humans (except for infants) can synthesize the necessary DHA from LNA, which is available in vegetable oils as well as meat sources such as wild game (infants get it from breast milk). The Mayo Clinic, which has always had a strong nutritional slant to their medical practice, says "One tablespoon of vegetable oil easily meets your daily requirements." And people who've calculated the amounts of energy and DHA and/or LNA fatty acids needed to develop normal brains note it's available even in savanna conditions. They also note that these non-seashore environs offer foods which are richer in other required substances, so the notion that the seashore environment was so much easier to collect food at is only true if you concentrate only on a small portion of the dietary needs. Naturally, you shouldn't do that, but AAT/H proponents who use the Crawford and Cunnane argument do just that, and so instead of looking at dietary factors in terms of whether there's enough of all required parts of the diet in a given environment, they look at where there's lots of only one part of the diet.

    Data gathered shows, for instance, that the required DHA is available in savanna and other terrestrial environments as well as that the purportedly required shore-based diet is far lower in energy (also required of course) than the terrestrial diet (Loren Cordain, Janette Brand Miller, S Boyd Eaton, and Neil Mann, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 72, No. 6, 1585-1586, December 2000). The problem for a shore or fish-based diet is made worse by the fact that the especially rich sources of DHA in fish are cold water marine fish which are certainly not the type of fish available -- by any reasonably conceivable scenario -- to our ancestors at the time we see increased encephalization (1-2 mya). They were simply not within a thousand miles of them. The fish that were available were -- so to speak -- a different kettle of fish.

    They have DHA, certainly, but actual measurements show they are a no better source than such terrestrial sources as brains, which were highly likely to have been scavenged by hominids (along with marrow) by the time we see the first great brain expansion in our ancestors. They, and other shoreside foods, are also very considerably lower in energy than savanna and other terrestrial foods, making the claim that the shore was a much easier place to get the required diet even more unlikely.

    Dietary determinism

    Another serious problem here is the dietary determinism inherent in this idea. I've described before how environmental determinism, as practiced in the AAT/H, makes the foolish assumption that environment trumps all when it comes to evolution. Dietary determinism does the same, only with diet as the primary selective force. The theory, as promoted, essentially makes the claim that a DHA-rich food source would somehow give a kickstart to our brain growth, and that just doesn't square with the way nutrition works. The fallacy in the idea of the supposed need for an aquatic diet to get larger brains is the same fallacy that people use when they take megadoses of vitamins -- too little isn't good, enough is good, so lots more is better. Being trained in the science of nutrition, both Crawford and Cunnane should know better, even if they don't understand evolutionary forces very well, but they seem not to understand this, since they do make the mistake.

    In dietary issues, you essentially always see the same thing: more is not necessarily better. Often it's far worse -- many dietary necessities, such as vitamin A (and phosphorus for that matter) are toxic in too large a dose. Generally you find that deficiencies hinder growth or health, but larger than needed amounts (within a range which varies between individuals) don't create more growth, development, or health, and they often have the opposite effect. This is a common problem, especially perhaps in North America, where we tend to often think that if a little is good, more and more is always better. With most things there's a level that's needed and more does nothing, or nothing good. This is a problem with dietary supplements which always needs to be kept in mind, and is why most dietitians suggest a varied and balanced diet as the best way to obtain good nutrition.

    One of their critics sums up the core problem with the Crawford and Cunnane idea: "In this Lamarckian scenario, the quiescent brain appears to be waiting patiently for humans to discover aquatic foods and then, eureka, the brain is free to enlarge and modern humans result. Not only are the selective pressures involved in this scenario unspecified, no information is provided as to how these large-brained humans were then able to provide DHA and other brain-specific nutrients for themselves or their developing offspring once they moved away from lacustrine or shore-based environments." Katharine Milton, pg. 1587 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 72, No. 6, 1586-1588, December 2000

    In other words, if you want super-smart monkeys, you're not going to get them by stuffing fish down their throats.

    Emphasis mine..

    Your timeline is also way off. If it was so recent, then it stands to reason that we would still show the lingering effects of such an aquatic evolution. Far from it, we are terrible in the water.

    As for bipedalism..

    The argument that our ancestors needed water to sustain the weight and to prevent blood pressure loss and the argument that water (the sea) was used to escape from land based predators is also bunk:

    "Standing up in water does not trigger secretion of aldosterone, salt retention or higher blood pressure. The reverse is the case: head-out immersion causes a prompt and marked fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, plus increased excretion of salt in the urine." ​

    With these statements, Morgan completes her argument that our hominid ancestors would be able to stand up in water without the temporary effects of blood pressure drop and rise in aldosterone. Of course the effects of these changes when standing up are actually pretty minor, as even Morgan admits ("It is a system which works smoothly and is in general benign." Ibid. pg. 33), but perhaps a case could be made that things might have been easier for our ancestors without it. Morgan tries to make that case, as seen above, and it would make a lot of sense... if it were true.

    You see, these changes during water immersion don't happen in time to prevent these very temporary effects of standing up, as Morgan suggests. Her source, Murray Epstein (who actually is an experienced researcher on this subject) points out that the aldosterone drop during immersion Morgan is so happy to see isn't a quick one, as it would have to be for it to be a benefit in the aquatic ape scenario; instead it begins "as early as 60 min of immersion" (Epstein 1984. pg. 181). The increased excretion of salt Morgan mentions takes even longer to come about, several hours after the increased excretion of urine (which is why you can get dehydrated in water unless you can drink it; of course in the commonly postulated AAT/H saltwater environment you can't drink it). The increase in urine excretion itself doesn't happen for an hour or so after immersion either. Epstein also notes the blood pressure decrease isn't quite so dramatic as Morgan seems to imply ("water immersion is associated with a significant, albeit slight, decrease in mean arterial blood pressure", Epstein et al. 1978, pg. 495 [italics in original]).

    These changes do not happen quickly, as Morgan suggests and as her scenario requires. They also don't happen unless you're in water up to your neck (or higher), which is also a problem for the wading aquatic ape. For the changes to have a helpful effect when we stand up, these bipedal hominids would have to always enter the water by crawling (or maybe scooting in on their rear ends) and then stand up only after an hour or so. Hard to see where that helps you in the common AAT/H scenario of running into the water to escape predators. Maybe they could scoot really fast.

    And apes currently walk and even run upright. Without water. Best tell them it's not possible as our ancestors needed water to do it.

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    Your responses and the lack of evidence to even support the possibility of your AAH makes me regret I did not send this to pseudoscience.

    And if you think challenging your hypothesis is derailing the thread, then perhaps locking yourself in a room with a mirror is the best way you may have to 'discuss' the hypothesis. The idea was for you to convince others of your hypothesis. Instead, you have relied on the true to form already debunked hypothesis that AAH proponents often stumble to.
  15. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Please specify exactly what fossil evidence, which you are referencing, points to a savanna existence and evolution to the exclusion of a river side, lake shore or sea shore existence and evolution.

    As long as we simply do not know for sure, all hypotheses should be treated as equals.
    This is especially true in the fields of anthropology and archaeology.

    Look at how much of the once proud dogma in those fields has been overturned in just the last decade.
    v gordon childe
    clovis first
    the ice free corridor
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
  16. Bells Staff Member

    I take it you did not read the links I provided?

    By savannah existence, I mean land areas. We have to remember that Africa today is not as it was back when our early ancestors came down from the trees. And frankly, the disingenuous nature of your argument is not lost on me. Of course there was water nearby with rivers, streams, lakes. However our ancestors did not scuttle down from the trees, immerse themselves up to their necks and live in water to figure out how to walk on two legs or stand upright, as proposed by the AAH. In fact, all evidence points away from that. And we can see that in real time by observing our closest cousins walking upright, without the need of water to support their weight, as proposed by the AAH.

    And frankly, I find it astounding that in this day and age, that people still need to ask for what fossil evidence has been found..

    There is absolutely no evidence to support the aquatic ape hypothesis. It isn't even a theory. But a hypothesis dreamed up by a Nazi in Germany after his attempts to define racial and genetic purity of the white race. There is absolutely no evidence to support it. In fact, what they claim supports it not only does not support it, but clearly indicates just how wrong it is (such as the eating fish high in omega-3 - fish that reside in colder areas where early hominids did not exist).. Unless of course you are going to argue that early hominids had traveled up and had learned to deep fish salmon and tuna with their hands and teeth in the colder waters of Earth? Well, since the aquatic ape theory proposed by the OP dictates that our ancestors scraped themselves out of the trees and scuttled into the water to figure out how to stand upright and walk and apparently spent most of their time in the water, evolving in a saline aquatic environment (remember, he's arguing that the brain food our ancestors required to figure out how to walk, etc was only available in the sea), before walking back out again, supposedly bald and walking after having evolved functioning arms and legs and a straight spine made for walking on land (yes, apparently we evolved in water to walk on land)...

    Gee, I don't know how or why this hypothesis just cannot get up off the ground....

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Better tell this fellow that he's doing it wrong,

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    And this one:

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    Not to mention this fellow that's breaking all the rules:

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    Because apparently, according to the aquatic ape hypothesis, this is theoretically impossible. According to them, for human ancestors to walk upright, they needed water to support the weight and to prevent them from fainting (since they argue that all the blood would leave the brain, causing our early ancestors to faint)... Yes, that's right, this is the argument posited by the buffoons cited by aquatic ape believers.
  17. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    The aquatic ape hypothesis (AAH), often also referred to as aquatic ape theory (AAT) is a proposal that the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans spent a period of time adapting to a semiaquatic existence.

    full stop

    I am degreed in the disciplines mentioned, and quite familiar with the fossil evidence. None of which precludes an occasional semi aquatic existence.
    If you know of something that I have missed, please direct me to the specific evidence.

    Some of the later claims beyond the stated hypothesis are rather silly and I do not endorse them.
    Are you familiar with the work of M. Alvarez or B.R. Schone whose research into shell middens have proposed dates of 200kybp. (long before many assume the development of fully modern humans.) And, then, we still have Glynn Isaac's work.

    I am not advocating in favor of the stated hypothesis, nor for the savanna hypothesis.

    I advocate only for an open mind. Far too much science has been hampered by adherence to prior speculations rather than going where the evidence takes one. We can do better. We can be better.

    A good starting point would be to look into the digestibility of various protein sources without cooking.
    Where does the evidence take us from there?

    Maybe, it would have been easier if the hypothesis were labeled "The occasional semi-aquatic ape hypothesis".

    On a personal note, I am a hunter and have been so for over 50 years. I cannot outrun a deer or buffalo or even a rabbit, but I can easily find shellfish without working up a sweat. There is always a danger in extrapolating backward from current circumstance. However, I would expect that our ancestors would also find easier pickings along the shores of the aforementioned bodies of water.
    Simple stuff, really, nothing disingenuous about it

    The thing that most people seem to miss is that both aquatic and savanna hypotheses are highly speculative.
    So, when one is "chosen" over the other, that ain't science so much as bias.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
  18. Bells Staff Member

    The point is that there is no fossil evidence to support the aquatic ape hypothesis.

    Then perhaps you could explain this to the OP who seems convinced that our ancestors were swimming in the ocean and walked upright because they immersed themselves in water to allow them to do so. We know this is not the case or even necessary. We see it today with apes walking and running upright.

    Of shells along the shore line of waterways. Not of apes leaving the trees and going swimming in the ocean to fish and hunt for shellfish for brain development, which is what the AAH argue for. There is a vast difference.

    An open mind should also be mindful of ridiculous claims with absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

    Frankly, the argument put forward by the OP in this thread is about as relevant as creationism is to evolution.

    I have posted articles that deal with this quite well.

    Sure and find me evidence that our newly out of the trees ancestors were swimming the oceans to hunt for iodine rich foods because the human brain needs such foods, and you might have a point. Thus far, to demand that the the reason we lost our body hair and walked upright is because our ancestors spent so much time in water swimming is ridiculous. If that was the case, then we would have adapted for living in an aquatic environment. We have not. Far from it.

    Now, jump into deep ocean and see how well you outswim sharks and other ocean predators.

    Our early ancestors could climb and run and find shelter. Going into waters that were more than likely crocodile infested, along with other aquatic predators, without the ability to swim fast or hold breath for any length of reasonable time would prove more futile and dangerous. I would imagine that was pretty simple stuff.

    While you may not be able to outrun a deer, buffalo or even a rabbit, you will find that more people die from sharks, hippos, crocodiles and drowning (aquatic predators are particularly dangerous to us since we are incapable of swimming fast enough to get away from them) than they do by being killed by deer, buffalo, rabbits or even wild game like boars. Even with our huge protein fed brains.
  19. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The worst flaw in this nonsense is that is begins by ignoring the monumental achievements of paleontology.

    I would add to this that there is no biological evidence for it. Apes are by nature arboreal. There are some cases for them foraging near water, since that's where food is likely to be found. There is no case to be made for them subsisting on aquatic food sources. In one case I can think of, Gorillas pinned in by the Congo River remained undiscovered until recently because they will not cross the water.

    Apes obviously are capable of walking upright (I like the example of the chimp who has to because his hands are full). But it's awkward since their hips and legs aren't adapted for it. Also the position of their skull on the c-spine is adapted for looking ahead while nearly parallel to the ground. The gorilla in your picture is effectively resting his head on his chest just to look ahead while he walks upright. You'll notice a lack of curvature in his cervical spine as he does this.


    And I suppose that to be the end game here. We've had a string of creationist trolls/socks lately who pretend to be attacking science from what purports to be a secular position -- some even trying to sell themselves as atheists.

    Hah! I just Googled "Ape thyroid and iodine" and "Aquatic Ape Hypothesis" came to the top. What a hoot! This tells me it's creationist for sure. They're trying to drive a wedge into the possibility that a human who needs iodine can evolve from an animal who has no obvious need for it. However, a few links from the top, this doc popped up. I won't insist that you wade through it since you have a lot of chores on your plate as a mod, but just glancing at it I find another bit of bad news for creationists: the gene that affects human metabolism of iodine is probably linked to some of the phenotype changes in humans that allowed them to thrive in almost any niche -- such as growing a larger brain! Isn't that a hoot!

    Especially since so many aquatic animals need hair, feathers or scales, it seems ludicrous to think the absence of hair is an advantage.

    /"Jaws" riff on the cello./

    And of course there are no apples out in the water. I don't think they do sushi. But they will get their carbs.

    Dang. There goes another perfectly good (probably creationist) attack on paleontology and/or evolutionary biology.

    (Of course all they really need to do is to figure out how to deny that the humans evolved from a fusion of ape chromosomes 2a and 2b into our single chromosome 2.)
  20. verhaegen Registered Member

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