Re: Okay seriously now (AAT again)

Pat Dooley (
16 Dec 1994 23:25:34 -0500

In article <3cq7re$>, (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
The AAH coveniently pushes the aquatic period back past Lucy to
somewhere in the range 9mya to 4mya. If the aquatic phase ended
4 mya then some of the adapations would have been lost (e.g. webbing
between figures and toes is not universal but still survives), some would
no longer be effective, some would still be with us, and some would
still be proving troublesome (e.g. fat). If we look at human aquatic
we find they are quite remarkable. Reasonable swimming ability. A
quite startling ability in very young children. Good diiving ability - the
unassisted record is way past 100' - and those Korean and Japanese
Pearl divers do remarkable things daily in very cold water.
As I understand the scenario, the AAH was a shore dweller that collected
some of its food by foraging in shallow water, some by diving for it in
water, and some on land. Its primary defense against land based
predators would be to enter the water and dive (lions can swim but not
dive). Conversely, it could escape water based predators by heading for

> 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.

I didn't like my waterbed when it got too cold. but I could spend hours
swimming in 85 degree water. Actually, 85 is getting too warm. 72 was
the best for serious swimming.

More comment on this issue:

Adults can swim long distances, even in cool water. For example,
in 1987, Lynne Cox swam across the Bering Strait without wet-suit
or layer of lanolin in 4 hours in water ranging from 3 to 7 degrees
Celsius. In 1993, a South Australian helicopter crash survivor swam
10-15km to shore after spending two hours supporting the injured
pilot. He claimed his extra weight helped him survive in the cool

Remember, extreme human aquatic performance is based on capabilities
that have had no survival value for 4 million years. Of course, if you
dismiss the AAH, you have rather more difficulty explaining such feats.

Pat Dooley