What the AAT isn't... was Re: AAT:A method to falsi

J. Moore (j#d#.moore@canrem.com)
Thu, 12 Oct 95 18:14:00 -0500

This is in reply to two posters, gblack@midland.co.nz (George
Black), and "Mike or Peni R. Griffin" <TheGriffins@i-link.net>,
who asked some basic questions about the AAT:

Gb> I can believe that AAT(tm) was a shore forager picking shellfish and
Gb> catching fish from tidal pools.

TL> From: "Mike or Peni R. Griffin" <TheGriffins@i-link.net>
TL> Date: 10 Oct 1995 03:49:41 GMT

TL> Excuse me for butting in -- I'm not a scientist or anything, and haven't
TL> even read all the posts -- but as I understood the original Aquatic Ape
TL> theory when I read about it in the popularization, it was never proposed
TL> that the hypothesized apes actually lived in the water. If the theory
TL> proposes only a population of apes adapting to a beachcombing existence
TL> and evolving bipedalism, subcutaneous fat, etc. in response to the
TL> exigencies of foraging in shallow water, isn't all this business about
TL> degree of body heat lost compared to water temperature etc., pointless?
TL> Or has the theory itself evolved since the book I read was written?

This is the crux of the problem -- the shallow-water-wading shore
forager you describe above is NOT the AAT.

The AAT says that the costs of standing upright when not supported by
water are so great as to outweigh the benefits to a degree that it was
virtually impossible. This support by water is the key element in
the AAT's scenario of the development of bipedalism; Morgan, for
instance, uses as an example:
"Erect posture imposes no strain on the spine under conditions of
head-out immersion in water." (Morgan, *The Scars of Evolution*,

This means that merely walking along tidal flats, or river or lake
shores, or even wading into knee-deep or even deeper water, no matter
how common, *is not* an AAT scenario. The AAT requires that a
majority of our locomotion take place in water that supports us,
which means water that is more than waist-deep, and probably
considerably deeper. Water up to your rear, for instance, does
not support you. Even water up to your waist doesn't provide this
supposedly required support.

The AAT also insists that body hair and apocrine glands were lost
as a result of immersion in water, and that our fat
characteristics stem from the same reason. This also requires
that we spent most of our time in water up to our heads.
Shallow-water wading obviously would not cover us to the extent
needed, nor for the amount of time needed.

So what the AAT requires is transitional hominids spending 4-8 hours
a day in water that is well over waist deep. What you both described
above is a terrestrial hominid that can wade, not the hominid
postulated by the AAT.

Gb> Was the AAT(tm) a user of fire? What tools were available to them?

According to some AAT proponents, such as the originator, Hardy,
both fire and sharpened stone tools arose during the purported
aquatic transitional period, along with butchery of large animals.
Morgan stated this latter claim as well in *The Aquatic Ape* (1982).
That this supposition requires that the hominids then dropped
these extremely useful skills for millions of years did not seem
to bother the AAT proponents.

Gb> Would basketmaking and therefore netmaking technology have been
Gb> known/available?

Extremely unlikely.

Gb> What tool Industries on the shore/inland were in place at the time that
Gb> AAT(tm) is said to have existed?

None of the above, and they don't appear for millions of years
afterward. This leads one to ask "Why did they drop these
immensely useful skills for millions of years after learning
them?" This question has been asked repeatedly, and it has never
been answered.

Gb> Why is the 'Savanah'tm theory rejected so out of hand by the AAT(tm)

They say it's impossible for bipedalism to have evolved on land,
in spite of the fact that it's a common part of many mammals'
locomotor and/or positional repertoire, including virtually all

They also say that if hominids had evolved on land, they would've
evolved the same manner of termoregulation as camels and asses,
and that if the hominid adaptations were actually useful on land,
we'd see many mammals doing the same things. They do not accept
that the AAT should be held to this same standard (no bipedal
aquatic mammals, you know), and it has been pointed out many many
many many times here that such a view of evolutionary processes
is at odds with evolutionary theory.

Gb> Why is the 'AAT(tm) theory rejected so out of hand by the 'Savanah'tm

The theory has a history of claims that are contradicted by the
facts known at the time (nose, swimming babies, "diving" reflex, etc.).
It requires a massive change in lifestyle, not once but twice,
producing massive changes in skeletal and physiological
structures, which nevertheless somehow doesn't leave any of the
traces one would expect from a lifestyle in that environment
(i.e., small or non-existent ears, smaller or non-existent limbs,
extremely large and heavily lobulated kidneys).
The problem of dealing with aquatic predators has been glossed
over or ignored completely by the AAT. The claims of a hominid
which creates stone tools and large animal butchery, which skill
then unaccountably disappears for several million years seems
weird at best. The idea of these highly effective aquatic hominids
being trapped on an island also seems a bit odd. The AAT requires
special pleading for features, such as tears (as only one example),
to be massively different than they are today or in our close
relatives, which requires not one but two massive physiological

Gb> The thing that I wonder at is how long would it take the individual
Gb> AAT(tm) to gather sufficient protein to support themselves and their
Gb> family group. As a diver with all the aids of technology IMHO it would
Gb> take me a certain amount of time each day in the water. But I would be
Gb> able to see what was there and make a selection. Then to gear up and
Gb> later to get dry and warm would take somewhere about an hour.

Go for "food", not "protein". Hominids (including humans today)
do not require terribly large amounts of protein. You can get
what you need the way chimps get most of theirs: by eating ants
and termites. Many peoples today do so.

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

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