"Aquatic eccrine sweating"

J. Moore (j#d#.moore@canrem.com)
Mon, 27 Nov 95 11:01:00 -0500

This post looks at another of Morgan's oft-repeated claims, and
examines whether it has any basis in reality.

>From Elaine Morgan 1990:94, *The Scars of Evolution* Souvenir
Press: London:
"There is even one clear aquatic instance of eccrine
sweat-cooling. When the fur seal goes ashore to breed it suffers
from the heat because of its double insulation of fat and fur. It
is believed to be descended from a possibly dog-like land-dwelling
ancestor with foot-pads of the standard mammalian type: the
flippers are covered with eccrine glands which sweat profusely as
it waves them in the air to cool itself."

>From Elaine Morgan post 10 Nov 95:
EM> James Borrett asked me for a reference to the statement I gave that
EM> harp seals use eccrine glands for thermoregulation. I was quoting from
EM> memory, and I'm sorry I got the wrong seal. It is the fur seals that do
EM> this. When they haul out and are overheated on land they sweat through
EM> eccrine glands on their naked flippers.
EM> The reference is: G. A. Bartholomew, in "Vertebrate Life", McFarland et
EM> al, London: Collier MacMillan, l979, p.773"


First off we find that Morgan has provided not an actual reference
but instead a "find a reference" kit (assembly required). The book
is made harder to find because she only listed the last author,
ignoring the first two. Once you find the book, you can look in it
for the actual Bartholomew ref, for which she has only left off one
author (but then there were only two to start with). So now you
find that what you're actually looking for is Bartholomew and
Wilkie's 1956 article in *Journal of Mammalogy* 27:327-337.
Now you can embark on looking up the ref.

Now when we look at the reference Morgan has given, we find an
interesting thing: there is no mention whatsoever of eccrine sweat
glands. This is not especially surprising if you realize that
seals have no eccrine sweat glands at all. Why does Morgan
assume, contrary to fact, that seals have eccrine sweat glands?
The answer probably lies in her belief that apocrine glands
disappear in aquatic species. Seals, however, are well supplied
with apocrine sweat glands (Scheffer 1962; Ling 1974; Sokolov
1982; King 1983). Note that reference "Sokolov 1982" is a book
which Morgan uses extensively -- when it suits her purposes.

In fact, in the Bartholomew and Wilkie article, as in the book
*Vertebrate Life*, the authors don't even actually notice sweat on
these seal flippers (which Morgan claims "sweat profusely"). They
actually mention that the seals wave the flippers about, and that
the flippers are "abundantly supplied with sweat glands" (which
we've already seen are apocrine rather than eccrine sweat glands).
Is there actual evidence that these seals' flippers produce sweat?

In a 1965 article in Nature (which Morgan cites in *Scars...*),
John Ling mentions the evidence for actual production of sweat due
to heat in these seals: "the appearance of liquid droplets on the
glabrous palmar surface of the northern fur seal, *Callorhinus
ursinus (L.), after exposure to radiant heat was assumed to
indicate that sweating had been induced" (Ling 1965:561). His
reference is the 1962 work of Victor Scheffer, in which Scheffer
describes the experiment that led to this conclusion:

"When a heat lamp is focused on the naked flipper of a freshly
killed seal, the black epidermis soon begins to blister. Before
it does so, droplets appear on the surface of the skin in a fairly
regular pattern. These are assumed to be secretions of the sweat
glands." (Scheffer 1962:7)

So the evidence shows that if you fry a seal flipper until it
blisters, the apocrine glands exude fluid. This is what Morgan
claims is "one clear aquatic instance of eccrine sweat-cooling".

************************ Discussion ************************************

Judging from past instances when Morgan has been shown to be
altering quotes, fudging facts, making up stuff, or just indulging
in incredibly poor research, there will likely be several predictable
reactions to this post. One will be the spin-doctoring approach,
often used by Morgan, wherein it's claimed that so what, it isn't
important. Another will be the suggestion that Jim is once again
merely engaged in bashing a poor old granny who posts to Usenet with
her ancient manual typewriter, and besides, grandmothers don't need
refs when they produce new theories. Another approach will of
course be simple and purposeless invective.

But I am doing what Morgan has repeatedly claimed she wants done:
treating the AAT as a serious scientific theory.

Accepting any new theory uncritically is foolish. I'm sure even
Morgan would *say* this is so. But when doing a critique of any
theory of human evolution, you check the facts the author uses
to support the theory.

The AAT is built on many supposed facts which, when examined, do not
turn out to be true.

In this post we see that Morgan's claims are based on, at best,
really poor research. This is not an isolated example; we've seen
this in her claims about sodium, emotional tears, and salt glands.
In all these instances she has made claims that are contrary to
the facts, and indeed has done so even when the facts are
contained in the very source she inaccurately cites. She also
persists in making phony claims even after facts (with references)
are pointed out to her (for instance regarding salt glands being
present in terrestrial birds and reptiles as well as in marine
forms). This is either the mark of a dishonest researcher or an
incredibly poor researcher. Yet it is this standard of research
and evidence Morgan offers as a reason to throw out the of the
last quarter-century of paleoanthropology.

For anyone familiar with Morgan's published and online writing, it
is also evident from this particular reference that her standard of
evidence for her own theory is far less stringent than what she
expects from all others.

Jim Moore (j#d#.moore@canrem.com)

************************ References ************************************

1956 "Body Temperature in Northern Fur Seals" by Bartholomew and
Wilkie. *Journal of Mammalogy* 37:327-337.

1962 *Pelage and Surface Topography of the Northern Fur Seal*, by
Victor B. Scheffer. North American Fauna, Number 64, U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service.

1965 "Functional significance of sweat glands and sebaceous glands
in seals", by John K. Ling (Antarctic Division, Department of
External Affairs, Melbourne, Australia). *Nature* November 6,
1965, 208(5010):560-562.

1974 "The Integument of Marine Mammals", by John K. Ling.
In *Function Anatomy of Marine Mammals*, Volume 2, edited by
R.J. Harrison. Academic Press: London, New York, San Francisco.

1979 *Vertebrate Life* (3rd edition 1989), by Pough, Heiser, and
McFarland Macmillan Publishing Company: New York and Collier
MacMillan Publishers: London.

1982 *Mammal Skin*, by V.E. Sokolov. University of California
Press: Berkeley.

1983 *Seals of the World* (2nd edition), by Judith E. King.
British Museum of Natural History, Oxford University Press.

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