Re: Okay seriously now (AAT again)

Bryce Harrington (
15 Dec 1994 18:12:18 -0800 (Robert J. Cokel) writes:
>Pat, I've been following this discussion for a bit now, and I'm not a
>anthropologist, but an interested observer. The problem that I have
>understanding is that I don;t fully understand what is meant by an
>aquatic or semi-aquatic. What extent of usage of a water environment
>are you emplying? Is this a hunter/gatherer that exploits beach-side
>food stuffs? If you are discussing a homonid that merely wades along
>the shore, I don't see how that can qualify as an aquatic or semiaquatic

A number of AAH deriders have jumped on this saying that there is
inconsistancy in just how aquatic the ape was, according to AAH.
There is an understandable difference of opinion of people here
on the net about this, but in spite of this, if you refer to the
literature you will see that things are pretty consistant. In truth,
though, we really can't say for sure _exactly_ how aquatic the ape
is, any more than savannah theorists can say _exactly_ for sure how
much time was spent out in the noontime sun, or any more than the
tarzan theorists can say exactly how much development occurred in the
forests before leaving it. AAH allows just as much speculation
as the other theories, but neither can it make solid claims.

But with that disclaimer in place, let me try to answer the question.
Our ancestors were not fixed in their degree of hydroness; at first
they simply waded into the water. Later they went further into
water deeper than they were high. They used diving at this point.
They were never fully aquatic, I mean, not like a seal. They probably
spent most of the day in the water but then slept onshore. Then
something changed and the apes began spending more time on shore
and eventually left the sea altogether.

Perhaps the confusion arises because some AAH people concentrate on
the first half, the wading part, and only imply the latter deep
water part. I think everyone who really understands the aquatic
ape hypothesis is aware of this gradual movement into the sea.

> Such a disticntion would seem to require a significant amount
>of time spent in the water environment, not a casual scavenger. IF a
>significant part of the homonid's time was spent in the water, and
>adaptions were made for that lifestyle, why can't I stand my water bed
>when the temperature of the water is below 85 degrees? I don't think
>that I am particularly well adapted to surviving in the water, even as
>an over wieght homonid.

And if we were adapted for the savannah, why do I get such bad
sunburns when I'm out without a shirt on for so long, and why can't I
stand sitting in the nude in my house unless the temperature is above
75 degrees? :-)

Sorry for the sarcasm, please ignore it. This is the hypothermia
argument, but phrased a little differently. The counter argument is
that you are assuming that water temperatures at that time are similar
to water temperatures today. Yet it has been very well documented that
the oceans at that time, especially in that region, were much warmer
than they are today, perhaps even "waterbed temperature."

Is this hard to believe? In late summer I spent hours in the ocean
out by Catalina Island. I was very surprised because 1) the water was
_so_ much warmer than I had anticipated (in fact, it was warmer than
the outside air, especially at night), and 2) it was so much easier to
float than in fresh water.

Finally, if none of the above has made the point, haven't you ever
spent hours and hours in a swimming pool (typically around 65-75 deg)?
You may get tired and worn out, but cold? In fact, I've found that
sitting in a sauna (~100 degrees) can be extremely tiring if you're
in it too long, but of course that's IMHO.

Anyway, to sum up, the water that the AA's were in was not as cold
as the casual observer might think, and even if it was a bit nippy,
from our experiences today we all know that we can survive well in
water temperatures of about 75+ degrees.