Re: YET another aquatic ape post

Rod Hagen (
Wed, 08 Feb 1995 11:59:17 +1000

In article <3h3t4e$>, (Pat
Dooley) wrote:

> >It's interesting this "ability to swim" stuff. It strikes me that it
> could
> >open up a whole string of "aquatic" possibilities. Our Airedale Terrier
> >could swim from a very early age. She didn't need any lessons.(She didn't
> >"lose" the ability either). So can our border Collie.
> Most mammals can swim. However, primates are not very good at it and the
> great apes (except Homo) can't swim. Unlike your dogs, Homo also has
> good diving ability. You will find, if you hold you dogs underwater, that
> they
> don't hold their breath. They don't learn to dive either; weigh their food
> down
> and throw it into six feet of water. Even if they see you do it, they
> still
> won't be able to retrieve it.
> Pat D

Yes, but neither can infants.

After the initial "breath suppression" stage, children have to learn how
to hold their breath. Babies in the water don't seem to move with any
purpose. They simply stop breathing and sometimes waggle their limbs!
Moreover they don't start breathing again until you lift them out (hence
the need to keep an eye on the baby in the bath tub). This doesn't seem to
be a particularly useful survival strategy for an "aquatic" animal. Surely
it is more likely that the ability to suppress breathing in human neonates
is a function of human neoteny. We are all, in a sense, "plucked untimely
from the womb."

The whole "aquatic ape" business I'm afraid continues to remind me of the
old creationist argument about fossils of animals with their noses in the
air being scientific evidence of the flood!

Its easy to throw up all sorts of ideas with a superficial plausibility
for those who wish to believe, but without hard evidence to support them
(as the creationists did for the flood and as Von Danicken did for space

The "throw the baby in swimming pool" evidence seems to me to be the sort
of exercise in tendentiousness that characterised the aforementioned

Rod Hagen