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Author Topic:   Aquatic Ape theory?
SweeneyTodd
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 138 (98316)
04-07-2004 1:58 AM


Just curious as to what some serious students of evolution think of the aquatic ape theories put forth by Elaine Morgan? I must say that it makes a lot of logical sense.

Sorry if this is a repost, I'm New.


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Adminnemooseus
Director
Posts: 3827
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 2 of 138 (98317)
04-07-2004 2:06 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by SweeneyTodd
04-07-2004 1:58 AM


You need to add some content, about the "aquatic ape theories put forth by Elaine Morgan", before anyone should be expected to reply to your topic.

Adminnemooseus


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This message is a reply to:
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SweeneyTodd
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 138 (98325)
04-07-2004 2:45 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by SweeneyTodd
04-07-2004 1:58 AM


All righty then...the Aquatic Ape theory, from what I understand, basically states that early humans evolved aqautic envioronments instead of a more widely accetped savannah approach.

AA theory claims that relatively hairless bodies (like aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals such as walruses, hippos, dolphins, etc) are evidence for life in water.

Body fat composition in infants, as compared to other primates, seem quite suited to give that extra bouyancy that would be needed for wet environments.

Gives an explanantion as for a reason to stand up on hind legs...to keep that head above water, as opposed to stand an look out for predators. Today animals from prairie dogs and meer cats to baboons all stand on two legs to scout for predators, but all run away on four legs, which is much faster.

These are some of the ideas that Elaine Morgan came up with in here series of books on the subject. I don't beleive she had any real training in science, but alot of what she says is interesting.

Just curious about what other people think.


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Mike Holland
Member (Idle past 577 days)
Posts: 163
From: Sydney, NSW,Auistralia
Joined: 08-30-2002


Message 4 of 138 (98339)
04-07-2004 3:39 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by SweeneyTodd
04-07-2004 2:45 AM


Hi SweeneyTodd,

I am hardly an expert in evolutionary theory, although I have read very extensively on the subject, but I am rather partial to the Aquatic Ape theory. It does offer explanations for many things that the 'standard' theories cannot explain yet, such as our hairlessness and hair flow patterns, types of body fats in infants, etc (watch a bunch of other evolutionists shoot me down in flames for that lot), but I have seen nothing to validate or invalidate the theory yet, so I guess we can 'accept' it for the present. It is certainly fascinating.

Relevant books in my collection are
The Aquatic Ape - Elaine Morgan
The Scars of Evolution - Elain Morgan
The Monkey Puzzle - Gribbin and Cherfas
The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction - various authors

The last one has many good articles both pro and anti.

Hope we get some good discussion on this topic, but it is difficult to get it going without quoting large sections of the books. Does anyone out there know of a good web site that discusses this theory? I will do some searching.

Mike.

[This message has been edited by Mike Holland, 04-07-2004]


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Cynic1
Member (Idle past 3632 days)
Posts: 78
Joined: 03-29-2004


Message 5 of 138 (98341)
04-07-2004 4:24 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Mike Holland
04-07-2004 3:39 AM


I have to agree that the Aquatic Ape theory seems to make more sense than the savannah theory. You forgot the breathing aspect of the theory, in that we are the only land mammal with breath control and a descended larynx, which are telling indications of a possible aquatic ancestor.

Also, the only other animal with a perpendicular gait is aquatic (the penguin).

We waste a great deal of salt to sweat, which would seem detrimental in the savannah.

No other land animal cries, but the walrus, otter, and various marine birds and reptiles do.

Our glands which secrete oil are huge compared to chimps, and these oil glands are often used for waterproofing.

The list of answers that the aquatic ape theory gives us is long indeed.


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Sylas
Member (Idle past 2818 days)
Posts: 766
From: Newcastle, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2002


Message 6 of 138 (98355)
04-07-2004 5:18 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by SweeneyTodd
04-07-2004 2:45 AM


SweeneyTodd writes:


All righty then...the Aquatic Ape theory, from what I understand, basically states that early humans evolved aqautic envioronments instead of a more widely accetped savannah approach.

The "savannah" approach is not really the "other" approach.

This invocation of "savannah" is a kind of strawman commonly invoked by Morgan; it is often given in terms suggestive of an arid and treeless plain.

Morgan's model has no legs, scientifically speaking. There are excellent reasons why it has been mostly ignored by serious anthropologists, except a few people who enjoy refuting bad science.

A good site which debunks the aquatic ape in some detail is Jim Moore's Aquatic Ape Theory: Sink or Swim.

The major problem is unconstrained invocation of adaptionism to explain just about everything, with little attempt to test the hypothesis, and with poor research in developing the facts that are used in the explanation.

Cheers -- Sylas


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Denesha
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 138 (98360)
04-07-2004 5:47 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Sylas
04-07-2004 5:18 AM


Dear Sylas,

The "savannah" approach is not really the "other" approach.

I'm unfortunately not knowledgable in primates ethology but I can't believe that aquatic was a safe place to live in the context of he is exposed. The Savannah was also under the rule of large predators but the space was wide open.
You can't reach the same conclusion near or in a pool. Never heard about crocodiles, thirsty felidae?

Denesha


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Sylas
Member (Idle past 2818 days)
Posts: 766
From: Newcastle, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2002


Message 8 of 138 (98363)
04-07-2004 6:11 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Cynic1
04-07-2004 4:24 AM


Cynic1 writes:


You forgot the breathing aspect of the theory, in that we are the only land mammal with breath control and a descended larynx, which are telling indications of a possible aquatic ancestor.

Also, the only other animal with a perpendicular gait is aquatic (the penguin).

We waste a great deal of salt to sweat, which would seem detrimental in the savannah.

No other land animal cries, but the walrus, otter, and various marine birds and reptiles do.

Our glands which secrete oil are huge compared to chimps, and these oil glands are often used for waterproofing.

The kinds of control which arise from a descended larynx have nothing to do with breathing in water; it is fairly plainly linked to vocalization. Furthermore, the larynx is not descended at birth; but comes later in childhood; but the breath control which Morgan also like to invoke is present from birth. The human larynx is nothing much like the larynx of truly aquatic animals. Fossil evidence also indicate that this arose much after the development of bipedalism.

The comparison with a penguins proposed as a line of evidence is hilarious. Have you seen a penguin walk?

The invocation of sweat is interesting; why would an aquatic animal need to sweat? The answer proposed by Morgan is that they need to get rid of salt (assuming salt water lifestyles). This is contradicted by the evidence, which shows that human sweat does not in fact have any excessive concentration of salt as is found in animals where salt secretion is an adaption.

The claim about animals crying is wrong. Most vertebrates shed tears. Morgan originally tried to distinguish "emotional" tears; but the association of this subtle distinction with acquatic adaptions is odd and ridiculous; and even the sources she was using proposed examples of other animals shedding emotional tears.

Morgan has indeed publically retracted some of her arguments about sweating and tears in response to various counter examples. See this Usenet post from May 1996. This is not, alas, prevent the recurrence of this rather dreadful argument.

I have not heard the one about oil before; but I'll bet that there is no credible basis or argument for thinking that humans ever had glands for water proofing or any need for such a thing. I'll look into it if you can give a reference.

Cheers -- Sylas


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Sylas
Member (Idle past 2818 days)
Posts: 766
From: Newcastle, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2002


Message 9 of 138 (98367)
04-07-2004 6:24 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Denesha
04-07-2004 5:47 AM


Denesha writes:

Sylas writes:

The "savannah" approach is not really the "other" approach.

I'm unfortunately not knowledgable in primates ethology but I can't believe that aquatic was a safe place to live in the context of he is exposed. The Savannah was also under the rule of large predators but the space was wide open.
You can't reach the same conclusion near or in a pool. Never heard about crocodiles, thirsty felidae?

Sorry, I don't quite understand this question. My point is that "savannah" is usually invoked by Morgan in the context of a kind of strawman of an arid treeless plain to set against her own even more absurd ideas.

There are various notions for the kind of environment in which humans developed. The notion of a treeless savannah is not a serious contender.

As for your point about predators... it is absolutely correct. Morgan has been known to invoke escape from predators as one of the reasons for an aquatic phase in human evolution. This shows a startling ignorance of how to keep away from predators, and fails to account for how ludicrously ill adapted we are for using water as an escape route.

Cheers -- Sylas


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SRO2 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 10 of 138 (98371)
04-07-2004 6:40 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Sylas
04-07-2004 6:24 AM


Savannahs?
I believe that the latest propsal for the origin of early man in Africa...is that The savannahs weren't the Savannahs at all back then...but a forest.
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Denesha
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 138 (98372)
04-07-2004 6:43 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by SRO2
04-07-2004 6:40 AM


Re: Savannahs?
Rocket,

Savannha or forest are not aquatic in Africa. Or your meaning of forest is a mangrove?


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SRO2 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 12 of 138 (98375)
04-07-2004 6:51 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Denesha
04-07-2004 6:43 AM


Re: Savannahs?
It's just a correction from my latest understanding on start of early man (Discovery channel)...they are thinking at one time the current savannahs were forests.
This message is a reply to:
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Denesha
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 138 (98376)
04-07-2004 7:05 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by SRO2
04-07-2004 6:51 AM


Re: Savannahs?
This isn't a very hard task to study. Paleosol specialists are able to tell us if there was trees or smaller vegetation on various locations.
I still can't swallow the aquatic pill. There is too much contradictions. I guess these have never paddled in a swamp with mud above the knees. Try that once and enjoy it!

Denesha


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SRO2 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 14 of 138 (98379)
04-07-2004 7:08 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Denesha
04-07-2004 7:05 AM


Re: Savannahs?
Oh, it's not an argument "for" an aquatic ape theory...the fact is I don't buy it myself...it seems to have no basis in reality from the little I've read on it.
This message is a reply to:
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Cynic1
Member (Idle past 3632 days)
Posts: 78
Joined: 03-29-2004


Message 15 of 138 (98385)
04-07-2004 8:02 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Sylas
04-07-2004 6:11 AM


I was operating off of her original book, and her theory sounded interesting. I just wanted to fill in the rest of the tenets of the theory that were missed. I apologize for posting falsified data, I haven't read it for a while.

I'll do some research on that oil thing, independent of Morgan, but I doubt I'll find anything. The penguin comparison was hers, by the way, and I almost left it out. I didn't really think the comparison between a human and a bird was relevant, but she seemed to think it was important.

[This message has been edited by Cynic1, 04-07-2004]


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