Re: What does AAT mean?

Troy Kelley (
Tue, 27 Dec 1994 16:30:49 GMT

Subject: What does AAT mean?
From: Murray E. Milligan,
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 1994 18:38:36
In article <> Murray E.
Milligan, writes:
>I've been lurking in this newsgroup reading the recent threads. Please,
>someone, explain to a first year antropology student what AAT refers to.
I am
>grateful for your comments.

In a nut-shell. AAT refers to the Aquatic Ape Theory put forth by Sir
Alistar Hardy (published in New Scientist in the late 60s) that says that
man had an intervening stage during his evolution, between the
tree-dwelling and savanna stage, where he was at least a semi-aquatic
organism. This aquatic stage helps to explain some unusual physical
characteristics of man that separates him from his closest relatives like
the chimp and gorilla.

Some AAT characteristics include: (obviously some are more supported by
facts than others) Hairlessness; fat deposits similar to other aquatic
animals; unusual nose shape compared to other primates; streamlined body
structure; bipedialism; high water consumption compared to other savanna
creatures; flat, broad appendages; unusual underwater diving ability
(especially compared to other primates); ability of newborn infants to
float in water; constant internal body temperature consistent with other
aquatic animals; large brain which needs to be kept cool; Red blood cell
ratios similar to other aquatic creatures; ect. ect.

Ask your teacher about it, I would be interested to hear his/her
reaction. I think it is a real crime that the anthropological community
does not discuss this theory more. I really don't understand why the
theory is so vehemently opposed by so many anthropologists. Even Alistar
Hardy was scared to publish this theory because of the scorn he might
receive from it. He waited until late in his career before actually
coming forth with his ideas.

Also, the savanna theory was almost accepted de facto after Raymond Dart
first proposed it. It made sense, and AAT supporters do not argue that it
never happened, something I think many AAT proponents forget, but it
really was not put to the test.

Also, pick up "Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction". It is a very good book,
although it is very hard to find, but it does present both sides of this
fascinating argument, and it was published fairly recently.