AQUATIC APE THEORY
aquatic ape theory is largely the brainchild of Elaine Morgan
(see reading list below). She argued that many, if not all, of
the anatomical curiosities of the human species could be explained
if one posited a prolonged phase of evolution in an aquatic or
semi-aquatic environment, specifically the Danakil Alps on the
east coast of Ethiopia between 7 and 5 million years ago.
aquatic ape theory would explain man’s bipedalism, nakedness,
subcutaneous fat, salty sweat glands, larynx and tongue arrangement,
ear wax, and body hair pattern. It would also explain man’s
innate ability to hold breath and swim under water – an
instinctive ability in newborn babies.
would also explain the apparent missing links in the fossil record,
environments have not been targeted for
investigation by archaeo-anthropologists.
famous fan of the aquatic ape theory was the late science fiction
Adams, who commented upon it as follows:
favourite lost cause is the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis, by which
I am impressed...
or not it turns out to be a true account of what happened,
I love it for the sheer elegance
of its solution
to a set of
problems which, it appears
to me, the archeo-anthropological establishment has not properly
addressed, but merely buried under a sedimentary accretion
seemed curious to me that the two oddest features of human
beings (bipedalism and hairlessness) rated
scarcely a mention
in the magisterial ‘Cambridge
Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution’. The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
is an idea that richly deserves to be properly tested. Dismissing
it is too easy. Refuting
it will be a much more rigorous task...
aquatic ape theory proposes no major modifications to existing
Darwinian theory, but improves its explanation
of the origins
of man by positing
a long period spent evolving in an aquatic environment.
Alaister Hardy, ‘Was Man more aquatic in the past?’,
New Scientist’, 17th March 1960.
Aquatic Ape – A Theory of Human Evolution’,
Souvenir Press, London, 1982.
Scars of Evolution: What our Bodies Tell Us About
Human Origins’, Souvenir Press, London,
Roede, J. Wind, J. Patrick and V. Reynolds (eds), ‘The
Aquatic Ape: Fact Or Fiction’, Souvenir Press, London,
Russell (ed.), ‘Digging Holes
in Popular Culture: Archaeology and Science
Fiction’, Oxbow Books, 2002.
C. Knight, 'Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture',
Yale University Press, 1995.
W.H. Calvin, 'A Brain For All Seasons', http://faculty.washington.edu/wcalvin/BrainForAllSeasons/