Re: Aquatic ape theory

Phillip Bigelow (
29 Sep 1995 13:50:37 -0700

I wrote:
>> 1) Sprint-mode for swimming: Humans are only average swimmers of all
>>the swimming animals. As far as a "5th gear" (a sprint-mode) is concerned,
>>humans don't have one. Dolphins and river otters and beavers have a
>>well-developed "over-drive" to avoid predators. (H.M. Hubey) responded:
>Humans are poor runners. Any predator would be able to catch
>humans without any trouble. WE probably couldn't even outrun
>housecats from a sprint.

True. But it doesn't negate my point that we are not designed for defensive
escape while in an aquatic environment. In fact, humans are poorly designed
for escape in ANY environment. Your point is well taken, but is actually
irrelevant to the AQUATIC argument. All that your and my points do is
suggest that humans are not particularly good escape artists in ANY
environment. Period.

I wrote:
>> 2) Good underwater eye-sight: Humans see much more poorly underwater
>>than they do above water.

Hubey responded:
>HUman eyes are poor in air too compared to owls, eagles, and
>maybe even some other animals.

But human eyesight is *comparatively* worse in water. Starting to see my
point, now?

I wrote:
>> 3) Good underwater hearing: Humans have lousy underwater
>>is muffled, and many frequencies are lost. Directional hearing is generally
>>very poor in submerged humans.

>OUr hearing is beaten by other animals in air too, say like dogs.
>We can't hear beyond 20KHz whereas dogs can hear up to twice as
>high. Other animals might outperform us too.

Yup, but our hearing is STILL worse in water than it is in air.

>So are we adopted for land living?

Compared to our escape speed, eyesight, hearing, and breath control in
water, the answer is clearly "yes". Remember, we are making a *comparative*
study between land and water adaptations for alluding predators...we weren't
talking about how poor our senses are compared to many other creatures.

p.s. Hubey raises an interesting point about how poor some of our senses
are compared to other creatures, land-, or water-dwelling. In fact, the
whole Order Primates is about the most generalized in terms of body plan
(plesiomorphies) that an advanced vertebrate can have. The Order Primates
also has very mediocre senses compared to most other higher vertebrates.
Our only real claim to fame is our enlarged braincases. Monkeys, lemurs,
apes and humans are quite primitive, structurally.