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June 26, 2004

Comments

Dave

I always liked the hypothesis, and it does explain a lot. I wonder, however, if you might not have proposed an alternative yourself. Specifically, you pointed out that neoteny might only require a few genetic changes, compared to a large number for individual changes from ape to human.

By the same argument, if other non-aquatic evolutionary pressures were being exerted on proto-humans, it would be much easier to "discover" a mutation in the maturation gene(s) that "solved" the problem than to evolve a set of unrelated, specific adaptations. In other words, if neoteny is "easy" in an evolutionary sense, then it could be a response to any one of a large number of potentially quite different types of evolutionary pressure.

Then again, I'm not sure if neoteny alone can explain some of the adaptations you describe concerning the respiratory system.

Mick H

Dave - no, I don't think neoteny could explain the changes to the respiratory system. Also, as you say, neoteny could be a response to any of a number of different types of evolutionary pressure, if we assume it's an easy evolutionary move. Still, the alternative theories are so weak....

anthrosciguy

"So why isn't the aquatic ape hypothesis better known?"

I've been looking at the evidence used by "aquatic ape" supporters, including Elaine Morgan, for about 10 years now, and the reason it isn't better known is not because Morgan is not a professional. It is because she uses bogus "facts" as evidence, alters quotes and conclusions from good scientists to make them say the opposite of what they actually said, and generally does a bad job of it. And she's the best of the proponents of the idea.

As one example only on something you've brought up -- our fat patterns. For this to be due to an aquatic past, you have to assume that babies were aquatic, then as kids (when we go through a very lean phase) were not aquatic, then as adolescents they became aquatic again, with the females far more aquatic than the males. Very weird. The alternate idea is that our fat patterns are due to sexual selection, which fits exactly with the way our fat is distributed and the differences between the sexes and during our lifespans.

There are lots of other problems with the "aquatic ape" theory, and I have a site with many examples. Did you know, for instance, that the so-called "aquatic characteristics" touted by AAT proponents are not found in aquatic mammals except for whales, sirenia (and a few in seals)? Did you know that there are characteristics that are in fact indicators of an aquatic lifestyle and that humans have none of them? You won't hear those things from AAT proponents, although any honest scientist won't bury the evidence there is against their idea, as the proponents have done. My site is Aquatic Ape Theory: Sink or Swim? at www.aquaticape.org.

Jim Moore

Marc Verhaegen

Nice to see AAT discussed. Please forget the outdated gossip & misrepresentations of Jim Moore: the man apparently doesn't know what AAT is about. For recent views & discussions of AAT (sea/lake/riverside adaptations of human ancestors after the human/chimp divergence c.5 Ma- please see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AAT http://users.ugent.be/~mvaneech/outthere.htm or google "aquarboreal".

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