AAH Evidence?

Bryce Harrington (bharring@aludra.usc.edu)
18 Dec 1994 17:34:05 -0800

n8010095@henson.cc.wwu.edu (Phillip Bigelow) writes:

> A succession of fossil types _might_ work, _provided_:
>1) That you could find _structural_ evidence in the skeleton for aquatic
>2) That you know what structural evidence of aquatic-ness in the skeleton
> would look like if you found it.
>All of the aquatic ape supporters on this dissussion group have consistently
>stated that there may be no structural changes in the hominid skeleton due
>to aquatic lifestyle. If so, no conclusion can be reached.

Phil, you and others (but mainly you) have harped on and on and on about
"AAH people say there may be no structural changes at all," that is, no
changes which can be found in the fossil record. I just want to set
things straight.

First and most importantly, it is not true that all AAH people say this.
In fact, only one person has been saying this if I remember correctly.
How can I be so sure? Because *I* am that person. I know I've said
this about five or six times, but I don't think I've seen anyone else
say it. So it's fine if you throw this back in *my* face, but don't
use it as counter evidence against others. BTW, I still say this:
There may be no skeletal changes which can unquestionably be linked
to aquaticism. But consider that *I* am saying this as a *personal*
opinion. I've never seen this in writing. But I've never seen anything
to the contrary, that there *must* be some specific evidence or else
the theory is incorrect.

Now that this has been cleared up, let me address the question that you
and many, many other AAH opponents have brought up: Is there anything
that could prove the aquatic ape theory, preferrably something that
could be found in the fossil record?

In _The Journal of Laryngtology and Otology_, March 1992 Peter Rhys
Evans wrote that auditory canal exostoses, a bony swelling of the
external ear canal, might prove the theory. These exostoses have been
demonstrated to occur in humans and guina pigs that are repeatedly
exposed to cold water. "The relationship between swimming and
exostoses is a phenomenon well known to otolaryngologists, but the
relevance of their pathogenesis has been largely overlooked by
physical anthropologists and archeologists..."

The presence of exostoses in fossil remains would be unquestionable
evidence for the aquatic theory, but I hesitate to say that they
*must* be found in the remains for the theory to be true for several
reasons. First, as Evans points out, the eroded state of remains of
typical fossils might make identification of such abnormalities
difficult. Second, this effect is not genetic but something which
occurs to an individual during its lifetime, so a creature lacking
exostoses may have come from a post-aquatic stage. Third, and most
importantly, it has been observed that, "In warmer climates they are
found less frequently." Since the postulated ape lived in a tropical
condition the presence of such abnormalities should not be expected to
be too high.