Re: AAT Theory

David L Burkhead (
31 Aug 1995 01:50:13 GMT

In article <4213r6$> (David Howard) writes:
>In article <41t25i$>,
>David L Burkhead <> wrote:
>>In article <41st3s$> Mike Reid <> writes:
>>>Why is there such vehemence against the Aquatic Ape Theory?
>> Also, unlike the proponents of plate tectonics, who _dealt with_

>>and _resolved_ the complaints about continental drift as a theory, the
>>AAH people have shown a remarkable lack of willingness to respond
>>meaningfully to criticisms of AAH. We see the same straw men about
>>"mainstream" theories again and again. We see tactics like
>>complaining about hominids being "odd man out" as a savannah creature,
>>but criticism about hominids being "odd man out" as an _aquatic_
>>creature is ignored. When aquatic development is noted as a way for
>>small, defensless proto-hominids to escape land predators, questions
>>about how they dealt with _aquatic_ predators are ignored.
>Forgive me for jumping into a conversation if i have insufficient
>background, but since when is the theory the responsibility of the
>founders? There has been a thread in the (i think)
>forum regarding Darwin's deathbed rejection about Evolution. One of
>points of that thread is that the theory does not depend upon the
>founder. I do not know the details of the discussion with regard to the
>points that you have made above, nor am I implying that the proponents of
>the AAT are not doing a sufficient job of defending their theory; but,
>"So what?" Would it matter if Newton had a change of heart about gravity?

I didn't say "founders." I said _proponents_. They are not the
same thing. Whatever Darwin may, or may not, have said on his
deathbed, it is the responsobility of those supporting various
evolutionary theories and hypothesese to provide evidence for, and
counter objections to, their claims. It is _not_ the responsibility
of creationists (for instance) to make the evolutionary case for them.
_Wegner_ did not have to make the case for plate tectonics, but the
proponents of the theory did--and it was up to the proponents of the
theory to answer the objections to the earlier, incorrect, theory of
continental drift.

It is the responsibility of those making the _claim_, to make the
_case_. Insisting that others make the case for them, or ignoring
well-thought-out objections to the claims (or even
no-so-well-thought-out objections), or continually repeating
long-since refuted claims, are all the marks of pseudo-science and

>> As a theory it makes no predictions, answers no questions (net
>>anyway--at least as many questions are "raised" as "answered"), and
>>is built on ad hoc assumptions--hardly the earmarks of a scientific
>The question has oft been raised if AAT would have greater adhearants if
>hominid fossils were found in the Dinali (sp?) Alps or in an obvious
>marine environment. I have heard no acceptance of this proposal. My
>opinion is that the Savannah crowd has a distate for the flavour of their
>own words. No, this would not prove anything conclusively, but it would

Incorrect. If no fossils are found in the postulated region it
would mean nothing. It wouldn't even mean that no fossils had
survived. It would just mean that none had been found. Contrariwise,
if fossils _were_ found, it would only mean that some hominids lived
there or passed through there. It would say nothing about whether
they were "aquatic" as defined in the AAH (and a very slippery
definition that is too--one of the problems with the hypothesis).

As for the discovery of fossils in marine environments that would
be no surprise. Marine sediments are one of the best fossilizers
around. If even a tiny percentage of the time is spent in marine
environments, or in alluvial environments that empty into marine
environments, then whatever small proportion of corpses that ends up
in the marine sediments will be disproportionately represented.

>Additionally, what predictions have been made during the course of the
>development of the mainstream Savannah theory? This is not a rheotorical
>question, but stems from being a novice in the field. If this is a FAQ or
>remedial statement, please point me in the appropriate direction and
>address the previous statements without dwelling on this paragraph.

Well, first off, we _know_ that hominids lived on the savannah.
The question is whether that's where they developed critical traits
(such as bipedalism) to set them on the path that eventually led to
us. Wheeler (I think it was, I'm remembering someone's post here)
postulated that bipedalism may have stemmed in part from a need to
increase heat rejection. From this a number of predictions were made
which were experimentally tested and verified.

In actuallity, though it's simpler than that. Since our
ancestors were primates, at some point in time they lived in the
forest. At some later point they lived in the Savannah, least
hypothesis, then is they they moved from one directly into the other
(or through intermediate steps that were intermediate between forest
and savannah). A million+ year trip to the beach, however, requires

David L. Burkhead

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