Aquatic Ape Theory

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by LIGHTBEING, Aug 22, 2002.

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  1. SciAuthor Banned Banned

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    I've said it once already but I'll repeat it again. Q misquoted me. I never said anything about bipedalism.

    birds went bipedal because of an adaptation to flight.

    Not so but an easy assumption to make. Birds are descended from small bipedal donosaurs. They evolved bipedalism to increase running speed. Clearly this is not the reason we developed it. We are the slowest of the great Apes.


    We are more than just bipedal. Birds have a forward stooping gait balanced by a tail. Except for the penguin ofcourse. It's back is straight and its head connected centrally atop the spinal collumn rather than slightly forward. Just like us. Would you argue that Penguins aren't semi-aquatic? What would happen to them if they were suddenly forced to live in savannah? They would likely seek out rivers and lakes if they survived(dubious). We went from a semi-aquatic existance to savannah but had hands with which to use tools. We had learned to use rocks on shells and spears on fish over a million years or so and took these skills with us. We took shelter where possible in rivers where big cats did not like to follow but this shelter was not always available. The weapons kept us alive on the open Savannah. We were forced to become more proficient with them or else face extinction from big cats. In time we went from defending to attacking. During dry spells there would have been insufficient food in rivers. So we went after other game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2003
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Why is bipedalism a speed advantage?

    Why does bipedalism improve running speed? I'd think the higher center of gravity on fewer supports would divert energy from locomotion into balancing. And a vertical stance would create more wind resistance. Bears seem well adapted to both postures but they drop to all fours when they want to run.

    Just curious, you seem to know this stuff.
     
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  5. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

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    as i seem to remember cheetahs are the fastest land animals (a bit of your own reasoning)..i forgot if they were bipedal..

    and please could you give us the explanation why bipedalism came about on the savannah and what the evidence is?
     
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  7. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    I haven't read the thread so sorry if someones already thought of this but:
    I'm starting to think we might be aquatic apes, here is how it could have happened, the original primate ancestor would have split up and gone its seperate ways, some of them may have ventured into shallow water and started eating mollouscs and crabs or whatever. I'm assuming it would have become a hassle bent over in the water all the time and an obvious beneficial stance for wading would be upright. On the flipside there is NO natural benefit in standing upright on land. I can't see why we would have evolved like that unless we were wading.
    I'm sure its our skin that started this so I won't even mention it.
    But all the other primates of today are uncomfortable swimming (except for the macaques who only get in hot springs because of how cold it is outside them) but we not only feel comfortable in water we love it.
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Maybe once or twice or...

    Six pages of postings, I think everything's already been said at least thrice. You should check it out, it's a fascinating subject, all the more so since it's unlikely ever to be resolved.
     
  9. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    oops my bad

    aaahhh good work fellas!!!

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  10. SciAuthor Banned Banned

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    Spot on Dr Lou. That is the most popular aquatic ape theory. In fact two species of monkey living in the Amazon have been observed to wade in that exact fashion. The proboscis monkey has even been sighted several kilometres out to sea. Although the river apes hypothesis is gaining ground. Only isolation causes divergence so I'm more inclined to go with Danakil Island as the cradle of humanity. When sea levels dropped and humans were forced to live in open savannah they no doubt sought out new water sources immediately. A river ape scenario might then have played itself out. In fact some people might argue it is still being played out. Most major cities are situated on rivers and coastlines. Fishing is probably the oldest recorded form of work.

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    Longest nose in the Primate Kingdom. Humans only have the longest nose in the Ape kingdom. Proboscis monkeys are expert swimmers and the whole troop will jump into the water if startled. They have webbed toes. Monkeys are a lot smaller than the great apes and smaller animals who spend a great deal of time in water retain their fur. Small body mass means rapid loss of heat. Thats why creatures like Otters, Beavers and Coypu's maintain a coat while larger animals usually don't. Exceptions to the rule are animals living in extremely cold climates where even the trapped heat within specialised fur is worth keeping. Fur seals for example.

    A long nose might be designed to keep water out. All apes except humans have two holes as a nose. Further adaptation might lead to a trunk as seen on the Elephant. Another animal thought to have once been semi-aquatic. Just like the Hippo still is today. Difficult to tell since animals of that size don't need a fur coat in warm climates.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2003
  11. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    Oh yeah, I forgot about those dudes, they swim alot also. I remember seeing a documentary that showed them jumping out of high trees and splashing into the water in slow motion, they looked funny as hell with their big noses flopping around. They made hilarious facial expressions to.
    Actually they'd have to be the most humanesque of the monkeys, they look and act like alchoholics with their potbellies and red faces.

    It would be funny if people did evolve trunks

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    That would piss us off immensely considering our vain nature.
    I hope I'm the first to have a trunked baby

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    I better start nearly drowning on a regular basis.
     
  12. SciAuthor Banned Banned

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    A big nose probably does help to some extent in water. Two holes in your face doesn't keep water out much. Remember that most wild animals die before reaching adulthood so any advantage whatsoever can influence your chances of survival. Over millions of years you can expect to see desirable traits emphasised. Ofcourse, evolution is influenced by many things and a big nose among proboscis monkeys has probably become a sexually desirable trait. Like peacock feathers. I wouldn't be surprised if the direction of fur growth has become more streamlined. That is growing in the same direction as the water would go past the body when swimming. This is an early adaptation to water before fur is lost completely. Human babies in the womb have a fine down all over their body which is lost before birth. A leftover ancestral trait. It grows in just such a fashion. Other apes do not share peculiar swimming adaptation. The fur on the proboscis monkey seems quite short I notice.
     
  13. Buckaroo Banzai Mentat Registered Senior Member

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    Don't know if it was cited, since I was looking for something else in the search, and I didn't read all the discussion. Anyway, here's a good site on the subject: http://www.aquaticape.org/
     
  14. c'est moi all is energy and entropy Registered Senior Member

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    Isn't that an argument you can hold up to EVERY supposed 'benefit' that enabled some kind of change? Supposedly, (cooked) meat enabled homo to develop larger brains... at least, that's what I learnd in my courses. The question is: will it make your dog smarter? Now I read in 'An introduction to brain and behavior' (Kolb, B. en Whishaw, I . Q. (2000) An introduction to brain and behavior, New York) that it is possibly a diet mainly consisting out of fruit that helped our brains to become larger. Supposedly, fruit poses lots of challenges which needs to be faced (different seasons, knowing the right trees, etc.):

    So, hunting is less complex than this? ... Requires less social skills? Demands no good spatial skills? ... I'm not convinced.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I think you get the site record for reviving a long-dead thread.

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    Q is wrong and Cthulhu is only partly right. Protein only works in conjunction with other metabolic advantages, like being warm-blooded. Warm-blooded animals--mammals and birds--absolutely rule the water when they get serious about adapting to aquatic life. Whales, penguins, polar bears, seals, ducks, otters, gulls...

    Reptiles can't evolve big brains because their slow cold-blooded metabolism can't provide enough nutrients, no matter how much protein they eat.

    Hunting promotes a certain kind of intelligence, but speed and strength are more dominant attributes. Scavengers and omnivores generally are at the top of the IQ pyramid within their genetic group. Bears, raccoons, rats, parrots, crows.
     
  16. verhaegen Registered Member

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    Most discussions on the so-called "aquatic ape theory" (AAT) I've seen are irrelevant & outdated, not considering the recent literature on the subject.
    Humans didn't descend from "aquatic apes", of course, but our Pleistocene ancestors were too slow & heavy (physiologically & anatomically) for regular running over open plains as some anthropologists still believe.
    Instead, Homo populations during the Ice Ages (with sea-levels often 100 m lower than today) simply followed the coasts & rivers in Africa & Eurasia (800,000 years ago, they even reached Flores more than 18 km overseas).
    Some recent info on AAT:
    - google "econiche Homo"
    - eBook Mario Vaneechoutte ed. "Was Man more aquatic in the past? Fifty years after Alister Hardy - Waterside hypotheses of human evolution" introduction Phillip Tobias
    - guest post on AAT at Greg Laden's blog
    - Peter Rhys Evans "Human Evolution" conference London 8–10 May 2013 with David Attenborough, Don Johanson etc.
    - M Verhaegen & S Munro 2011 "Pachyosteosclerosis suggests archaic Homo frequently collected sessile littoral foods" HOMO – J compar hum Biol 62:237-247
    - M Vaneechoutte, S Munro & M Verhaegen 2012 "Reply to John Langdon's review of the eBook: Was Man more aquatic in the past?" HOMO – J compar hum Biol 63:496-503
    - for ape & australopith evolution, google "aquarboreal"
    marc verhaegen
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    You just committed thread necromancy on a discussion whose final post was seven years ago, which itself was a necromancer after a previous two-year hiatus. Clearly no one cares about the AAT anymore. So to your remark about "irrelevant and outdated," the only logical response seems to be, "Duh?"

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    Just as the "aquatic ape hypothesis" has been discarded, so has the "savannah hypothesis," and quite recently. The discovery of Ardipithecus, dated around 4MYA, filled in the "missing link" between our chimpanzee-like ancestors and our more recognizably humanesque ancestors.

    Ardi was found in a forest habitat. She retained a prehensile hallux (big toe), allowing her to nimbly escape into the trees when predators approached. She was most definitely a forest-dweller, not a savannah dweller.

    The suggestion that bipedalism allowed our ancestors to walk upright and see over the top of the tall grass to watch for predators has been supplanted by a different one. Bipedalism permits a primate (with our unique shoulder joint that provides nearly unlimited range of arm motion) to hold and carry an enormous amount of food in his folded arms. This allowed the males to do the grocery shopping, while the females stayed close to the taller trees with their children, in case a predator showed up. This may have been the beginning of pair-bonding and gender roles, both of which are qualitatively stronger in humans than in all other Great Apes.

    The transition from grazer to obligate carnivore, after flint blades were invented and our brains grew to be enormous on the higher-protein diet of a scavenger (scraping the meat from bones abandoned by predators), did not obviate gender roles but merely shifted them, as males now became the hunters and females the gatherers. They eyes of modern humans retain the telltale difference in physiology: men's eyes are better at spotting motion, a vital skill for a hunter, while women's eyes are more nuanced at discerning slight differences in color, a vital skill for distinguishing ripe fruit from not-so-ripe, and poisonous herbs from nutritious ones.
     
  18. Buckaroo Banzai Mentat Registered Senior Member

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    I don't mind thread necromancy, as long as the thread was interesting and still relevant. In my opinion it's much better than just starting a new thread on the same subject just to avoid the internet forum n-word. Shows the would-be OP that bothers to search some more (rather than posting yet again a new thread, asking the same question), and potentially "forces"/helps people entering the discussion to read at least something of what have been already discussed, which often is a good thing.


    I wonder if it was ever considered if bipedism (and "terrstrialism" also) partly evolved because or at least allowed early hominids to have more spare brain for other things than keeping track of where you put your feet without looking directly at them. I thought that while noticing that cats manage to walk through messy places while avoiding misstepping or getting tangled with their feet on whatever they've avoided previously while they could see in front of their eyes, without having to look back to do that. As if their brains had a "cache" of the 3d map that was created while they could see. I think arboreal primates would perhaps be reasonably analogous. I guess that perhaps just moving to a "2d" flat/terrestrial world when previously equipped to a more 3d/complex world of the trees could provide you with some spare brain. It would be quite interesting if scientists investigated that and found that chimpanzee groups that tent do be less arboreal also seem to be smarter in some aspect, like use more tools. That's also somewhat linked to that idea that we became bipedal in order to or allowing our hands to use tools.

    But at the same time I think it's very unlikely to be able to find simple adaptive main factors for explanations, perhaps most of the time. Often could be that there was no simple singular factor, but the sum of a lot of smaller advantages, coupled with chance factors. Could even be that in the end being bipedal was the most maladapted state that was only allowed to thrive because they happened to be previously smart enough to deal with it, perhaps even triggering a selective pressure to increased intelligence and more strict bipedism.
     
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The wading ape idea has not been discarded, and has been accumulating evidence over time - the recent evidence that bipedalism evolved before the transition to savannah living, for example, was an early prediction recently borne out, as were the predictions that bipedalism came before the big brain and the tools.
    That notion was nonsense in the first place, and its prevalence is one of the oddities of modern science.
    More of the same bizarre reasoning that has plagued this topic for a generation. Carrying large things any significant distance across dangerous open ground in one's "folded arms" requires a prior development of efficient and stable bipedal locomotion. It probably also requires (preliminary to its development as a strategy) tools (digging, butchering) or even weapons, and pack structure for predator defense. The social structure that would pay off that strategy is also necessary, and likely coevolutionary with such major skeletal alterations.

    The sheer, weird, grasping at straws nature of these notions is striking, if you think about it - why is wading after the extraordinary bounty of shellfish and the like, harvesting with mobile shoulders and opposable thumbs, and carrying the booty (very nutritious, can be eaten raw, requiring no tools beyond a handy rock) back to the kids in the shoreline trees in one's "folded arms" with one's head above water

    behavior which matches the evolutionary timeline and sequence best supported by every piece of evidence we have,

    behavior which has structural and physiological grounding beginning with a quadrupedal tree dwelling primate, paying off with its lower relative costs and higher relative rewards even in the early stages of adaptation

    behavior which we observe and engage in to this day, to great benefit, all ages and both sexes, all over the planet,

    so condescendingly and abruptly dismissed, while goofiness like "watching over the grass for predators" and "walking on one's hind legs carrying piles of "food" back to the trees from its hazardous "discovery" far out on the savannah" is nodded at and welcomed into sober discussion?
     
  20. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    bravo
     
  21. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    purported to be an image of one of the 3.7 million year old footprints found in Laetoli

    do you believe that?
    (I don't)
     
  22. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Just trying to stir up trouble, huh?
     
  23. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

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    So the question is now, where does the rise of the face-kini fit into the aquatic ape hypothesis?

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    If it were so, wouldn't it have been better if our faces were covered with hair, or Lycra, perhaps?
     
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