Re: Aquatic Apes?
Sat, 28 Sep 1996 20:42:07 -0400

John Denning wrote:
> (Richard Foy) wrote:
> >In article <4a4n9q$>,
> >Tom Clarke <> wrote:
> >> (Phil Nicholls) writes:
> >>
> >>> (Sulla) raged:
> >>
> >>>>Has there been any evidence discovered recently to explain the peculiar
> >>>>aquatic features of Homo Sapiens? This was a popular theory about 15
> >>>>years ago, but I have not been aware of any research at all.
> >>>>Thanks.
> >>
> >>>The so-called "aquatic features" of Homo sapiens are not aquatic
> >>>features and there is no evidence (and no research) supporting it.
> >>>It was popular only among those who can't evaluate evidence.
> >>
> >>>Phil Nicholls
> >>
> >>Aw Phil, that's no way to treat a new entry to the forum.
> >>
> >>The statements in your first sentence are true, if stated a bit
> >>harshly. However, the second sentence is blatantly hostile.
> >>
> >>Now if Sulla found something of interest in wherever he had
> >>encountered the idea that Homo sapiens peculiar features were of
> >>aquatic origin, your hostility is likely to be counterproductive.
> >>You might make him conclude that you are a crackpot and that there
> >>is some seductive forbidden allure to the idea that H.s's peculiar
> >>features are aquatic.
> >>
> >>I would suggest the following response:
> >>
> >>The idea that the peculiar features of Homo sapiens are aquatic
> >>is mostly popular among non-professional-anthropologists. No
> >>fossil evidence has been found to support this idea.
> >Your suggestion is certainly much better than the prior poster's.
> >However, wouldn't it be even better to post just a bit less biased
> >message.
> >>I would suggest the following response:
> >be modified to be somthing like
> >
> >>
> >>The idea that the peculiar features of Homo sapiens are aquati
> >>is mostly popular among non-professional-anthropologists. No
> >>fossil evidence has been found to support this idea.
> >However, many of the AAT features are not such as to be able to leave
> >fossil evidence. To get a good udnerstanding fo the pro and con
> >arguments just read this ng for awhile, perhaps focusing your
> >attention on Elaine Morgan and Phil Nicholls.
> >--
> >"We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything."
> > --Thomas Edison
> Hey, didn't you see Waterworld? Geez, the guy had GILLS!!!
> Have Fun,
> -John
> P.S. And yes, I'm kidding.
> John Denning
> New College
> Sarasota, Florida

Sir Alister Hardy published a book in 1956 and an article in The
New Scientist in 1960 in which he suggested an aquatic period during the
evolution of H sapiens from H afarensis and other African primates.
At first the idea seems far fetched, but it provides a plausible
explanation for the biggest difference between humans and apes: hair.
We are the only hairless primates, and one of only a very few
hairless mammals. The only common land mammals that are as hairless as
us are elephants, hippopotami and rhinos (I know there is a sort of
hairless subterranean rodent, but it seems to have evolved that way
underground). The rhino may be a swimmer, I simply don't know, but the
hippopotamus is obviously aquatic, while elephants are well known to be
excellent swimmers, in both salt and fresh water.
The marine mammals are almost completely hairless: those that
still retain the ability to leave the water also retain the same pattern
of body hair that we have: some on the head, but mostly under the arms
(front flippers) and the pubic area.
While this is possibly only mildly suggestive, there is also the
reaction of human babies to being immersed in water: they don't mind
it, swim by reflex and exhibit the same 'dive reflex' on having their
heads help under water as seals, walruses, dophins and whales. In
contrast, the young of most primates hate water, fight being put
into it and will not let their faces be put under water without
fighting so hard that no researchers have forced them to do it. For
adult primates to enter water is rare, for them to swim is even more so.

In the light of this, it might seem a good thing for someone to
do a little 'real' (i.e. funded and then published in a peer review
journal) research, instead of just shrugging it off as the raving of a
non-professional-anthropologist, with undertones of such n-p-a's being
cranks, crackpots and obvious candidates for the padded room at the
local home for the reality impaired. If the idea is then disproved,
everyone can then really dump on aquatic human propenents with a feeling
og real supremacy. Until then, they have a right to weave theories as
wierd as they like, tying in yetis and susquatch, or even the Loch Ness