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Talk:Aquatic ape hypothesis

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This evolution related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


Psychic tears?[edit]

??? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 22:39, 6 June 2008 (EDT) Lyra § talk 22:42, 6 June 2008 (EDT)
Ah. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 22:48, 6 June 2008 (EDT)

Quote section[edit]

You guys have pages of talk on this site mocking the likes of Conservative on CP who supports his theories by random quotes from unremarkable people. You have a whole article entitled quote mining. Thats what is wrong with that section. 00:02, 8 June 2008 (EDT)— Unsigned, by: BTM / talk / contribs

Surely there's quoting & there's Quote mining. Nothing wrong with a good quote, from a valid source in context. SusanG  ContribsTalk 00:06, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
(Edit conflict!) How is it quote mining? Those quotes seem to represent their opinions quite accurately, from what I can tell. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 00:07, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Quotes do not support arguments, also the context of these quotes is not given, all the tell tale signs of quote mining is in place such as ellipses and incomplete sentences. But even if it is not quote mining it is not how scientific principles are advanced or argued for. It should be about evidence not who can collect the most quotations from random people. BTM 00:08, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Agreed, but we're not a scientific journal & the whole article's only a few hours old. leave it to settle for a while, then come back. SusanG  ContribsTalk 00:11, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Oh, and before deleting large chunks, why not bring it up on the talk page first? SusanG  ContribsTalk 00:13, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
At the very least the original full context of the quotes and where they appeared should be required before being entered. The very least if you wont allow their removal. BTM 00:17, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
I agree. None of the quotes are sourced. This article smells of Pacific Arboreal Octopussy. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:20, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
What do you mean by "full context"? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 00:21, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
It's all here if anyone wants to go plundering. SusanG  ContribsTalk 00:26, 8 June 2008 (EDT)


I'd just like to say that this is a very published, intellectual theory, not some crank idea. By treating it as such is anti-intellectualism and anti-science. Elaine Morgan is one of the chief proponents of this theory. It is not in conflict with any evolutionary models, it just presents a different interpretation of the already existing models. An aquatic common ancestor as opposed to a savannic one is not crank, pseudoscience or anything of that kind. Lyra § talk 00:28, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

No, of course not. We appear to be experiencing random turbulence. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 00:29, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Yes, but this article is garbage. An intro that is a paraphrase of WP; tables and quotes lifted from some "Morgan" person's webshite.... we can do better. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:30, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Obviously, but perhaps we could do it politely? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 00:34, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Yes, original articles are meant to be improved by the mob. Lyra § talk 00:35, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Also, "The hypothesis and its variations have been largely ignored by mainstream paleoanthropology, although some papers have criticised aspects of it" was lifted straight from WP, although the next sentence, "It has been suggested, for example, that a broad enough terrestrial diet would ensure sufficient access to docosahexaenoic acid that there is no requirement for high consumption of seafood and accordingly no reason to posit an aquatic phase in human evolution." was "left behind". Sorry for the rudeness, but this "article" looks like little more than wiki-spam to me. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:35, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
"An aquatic common ancestor as opposed to a savannic one is not crank, pseudoscience or anything of that kind." So what is this article for? ħumanUser talk:Human 00:37, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
It's science. We do science. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Fish can wish 00:38, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
We also do footnotes. I removed all the unsourced "information" from the article, which essentially served as a paean to some Ms. Morgan and her website. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:41, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Does Elaine Morgan have creds we don't know about (yet)? IE, is she an evolutionary biologist or something like that? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:02, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

Regarding various things, such as the decapitation of this article[edit]

I recall that at least one section of the article was sourced to science journals and the likes. Anyone mind putting it back?

Also, I'd appreciate Human not calling me a wiki-spammer. Even though the part that I wrote is still there. Lyra § talk 00:45, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

I didn't know it was you. Could have been anyone. I called what I saw for what I saw it as. An article assembled out of bits from elsewhere, with no further elaboration or commentary, mostly supported by one link to "some web site".
Anyway, what is this article supposed to be? A refutation? An example of evolutionary science abandoning a well-reasoned but empty dead-end? An example of open-ended evolutionary science in action? Just curious... ħumanUser talk:Human 01:00, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Er, the "history" tab kind of undermines that argument. :P
As to the purpose, I'm not defending the original article, so that's behind us now. Lyra § talk 01:05, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
What argument? I didn't check the history, I don't care who built something, just what I see when I come to read it. So... let's figure out where we are going with this. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:05, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

Elaine Morgan[edit]

Has an article at WP: wp:Elaine Morgan (writer)

"Morgan has been accused of using sloppy and unscientific methods in her scientific writing - for instance, systematically distorting quotes to support her position. [1]"

I recommend reading the ref given there. Surely there is an interesting article to be salvaged here, although I suspect it won't be a craven homage to Ms. Morgan. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:07, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

I disagree-- Without context, that quote above is quote mining. Shifty.gif
Seriously, I think the scientific content should stay as is. Lyra § talk 01:13, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
I have no problem with the inclusion of sourced information and evidence about the hypothesis. But quotes really don't belong. BTM 01:48, 8 June 2008 (EDT)
Christ on an Easter stick, Lyra, how can it be quote mining when I link to the frigging source? If you were trying to make a point, I would try to follow your logic. But now that I know you were the one who assembled the article as I saw it earlier today, your critiques of others' methods fall on deaf ears. What "scientific content" are you referring to? Items sourced indirectly, via, the one person who seems to really want to promote the topic? Let's not take her word, and find the actual sources behind this stuff. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:09, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

This article's links seem to mainly dwell on Morgan on a personal basis. She was not the originator of this theory, for a start, and we should not confuse people with an idea.-Albannach (talk) 14:00, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Savannah vs Forest[edit]

So far as I know, the scientific consensus leans towards forest rather than savannah environments for the earliest stages of human evolution, including the development of bipedalism, since at the time that the earliest bipedal hominids were appearing, forests were far more common and there was no reason for apes to adapt to grasslands. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 02:39, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

That is not my understanding at all, there seems to be very strong evidence for expansion of grasslands corresponding with hominid evolution. Perhaps the earliest divergence of the homo clade might have taken place in wooded regions but for at least the last 2-3 million years of evolution it has been predominantly grassland environs. [2][3]
Which is of course meaningless to this discussion since we are talking about evolutionary forces operating in the 5 mya-2.5mya. Your right that Homo habilis, Homo erectus and descendant species likely evolved on the grasslands but the divergence from chimp like ancestors took place 3 million years before that. So really the question of savanna/forest/aquatic is for the 5 mya mark. Your sources do not support savanna expansion during this time frame. Fifth Horseman 13:25, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

Breath holding instinct[edit]

Do we know that baby chimps for example do not do this? BTM 03:50, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

My understanding is they drown - but I've got no source.--Bobbing up 14:45, 8 June 2008 (EDT)

Cause of Hairlessness[edit]

I've always found this theory interesting on a "huh, that does make sense for that *one* thing" aspect,and the "i love reading my horoscope" part of me, and given that I'm a Mythology scholar. Also, it's just fun to think of us as water lovers, since I'm a cancer-crab, and love the water. That bias admitted, I have to ask about the counter examples to the Hairless area. I don't know if the "elephant, rhino, etc are good examples -- except that they are thought to have some aquatic ancestry so are not the best examples" is supposed to be facetious or not. If it's serious, they it's lacking in anything that actually counters this point, and comes off as a rather weak and creation scientist like response. What are the other examples of hairless animals that do not have "possible aquatic ancestry" other than the ones mentioned then self-denied?--WaitingforGodot 15:24, 4 July 2008 (EDT)

The term 'structure' not well defined in the objections section[edit]

I've read that first paragraph in the objections section several times and I can't figure out what it means and it is down to the word 'structure' not being well defined or elaborated on. Does anyone know how to word this paragraph so that it can be better understood? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Looks clear to me, especially since examples are given. Function = what an organ does; structure = how it achieves it, basically. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:42, 3 February 2009 (EST)

A bad argument[edit]

Swimming: humans really aren't that good at swimming. Dogs and cats do about as well.

I am aware of that. But why then are all the other great apes unable to swim? They share most other primitive reflexes with humans with the exception of the ability to swim. Allegedly humans as newborn babies are able to swim and dive, but then lose this ability and have to learn it anew.-- (talk) 21:18, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

I can't remember where I read it, but I recently read that the "apes can't swim" meme - although widespread - is incorrect.BobSpring is sprung! 22:19, 8 November 2010 (UTC)
Yup, I think it was more "don't like getting wet". Of course there's numerous counterexamples - how many times have you seen the Japanese monkes frolicking in warm springs? 22:25, 8 November 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast
see here Gorillas are apparently too dense (heavy). 22:29, 8 November 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast
"Allegedly humans as newborn babies are able to swim and dive, but then lose this ability and have to learn it anew" Also, allegedly, human babies know all the answers to the Universe and everything in it, but have it beaten out of them. Oh, if only we had the magick of the newborn babies to guide us! Are you fricking nuts? Try throwing a newborn baby in a lake and see how fast you get arrested for murder... Dogs, on the other hand, don;t have to be taught how to swim. Cats, swim, wha???? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:03, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
Dogs and cats don't have to wait years to be able to run or communicate with their parents either, that's because they are different animals with different evolutionary histories, and they develop differently as they grow. Human babies show more understanding of how to move in water than they do on land, this alone makes the theory worthy of further investigation.

Why are you all making fun of me? My question was serious. I know that several sorts of monkeys - but definitely not apes - are able to swim.

Most cats don't like swimming - but some breeds do.

Does the theory float/rock anybody's boat? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

BoN comment[edit]

Unfortunately, this is a very biased view IMO. Of course the term "aquatic ape" is an unfortunate misnomer, it's not about apes or australopiths (only about Homo), and it's not about having been aquatic (a better term is "littoral"), but – however one wants to name it – the Hardy–Morgan theory is beyond doubt: it's obvious that Pleistocene Homo populations dispersed along coasts & rivers: how else could they have reached Flores? and why else are all archaic Homo fossils found next to edible shellfish (work of J.Joordens, of S.Munro, and others), from the Cape to Eritrea to Boxgrove to Dmanisi to Mojokerto, from at least 1.8 Ma until 125 ka? The only "problem" IMO is that anti-AAT people attack their own idea of what they believe AAT is (eg, dolphin-like ancestors). Their "critiques" are nearly invariably irrelevant, misunderstanding, misrepresenting, always obsolete, not essential (attacking a possible sub-hypotheses), irrealistic and/or illogical ("crocodiles killed aquatic apes"). IMO we have to discern 2 theories: - the littoral theory of Homo (AAT s.s.): Pleistocene diaspora of human ancestors along coasts & rivers, beach-combing, wading & diving for waterside & aquatic foods, - the aquarboreal theory of apes: Mio-Pliocene hominoid adaptations (eg, vertical branch-hanging & wading) in flooded forests (mangrove, gallery, swamp forests). For up-to-date insights, - google "econiche Homo", - google "aquarboreal", - read the forthcoming ebook "Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? Fifty Years after Alister Hardy: Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution" M.Vaneechoutte, A.Kuliukas & M.Verhaegen eds 2011 Bentham Sci.Publ., with contributions of Elaine Morgan, Phillip Tobias, Michel Odent, Anna Gislén & others, - or see our recent paper "Pachyosteosclerosis suggests archaic Homo frequently collected sessile littoral foods" in HOMO J.compar.hum.Biol.62:237-247, 2011. Marc Verhaegen — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

I think your points are really good, but i don't think they really address the "aquatic ape" in all it's psuedoscientific glory. I can't imagine a single scholar doubting your points, but going after shellfish, even primitive hunting would not result in the kinds of adaptations that are suggested in this more elaborate idea. As I learned the AAT (already being taught when I was in College) are things like giving birth underwater; spending most of our time in water; hair growing in spirals (which would help a whale or a seal, but not a human that sometimes goes into the water to fish). Just saying....Pink mowse.pngGodotThe Peyote God awaits 18:11, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Diving apes[edit]

Diving reflex: terrestrial mammals show this too; there has been insufficient study of other apes to use this as evidence that humans are special in this regard. - Japanese macaque in Jigokudani (famous "hot spa macaque) have been now observed to dive under water, and in the last 10 years, hold thier breath up to 30 seconds. This trait, like the trait of jumping into the spa in teh first place, is being passed down to the children, and the new generation born the last 3 years, are able to hold their breaths up to 1 minute. I don't know how it fits in, but other animals clearly dive.Pink mowse.pngGodotThe Peyote God awaits 18:15, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Predators, hippos etc[edit]

Having heard a talk on this subject recently, my first thought was about predators. Humans are useless at evading large marine predators such as sharks and crocodiles, which is a major objection. Both of these can come into fairly shallow water, i.e. what would be up to our waists. And another thing - one of the biggest killers of humans in Africa is the hippo - they kill more people than sharks and crocs combined. Not for food, but this never gets mentioned in critiques of this theory.

I don't think this hypothesis is completely invalid, but its proponents have often been the problem - lack of scientific training in this area, plus the eccentric element. I think Elaine Morgan's claim that anthropologists have been gender-biased in their ideas holds some water as well. (Sorry, bad joke)

A list of current aquatic apes would be useful. Some humans are pretty much aquatic just now of course. -Albannach (talk) 08:42, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Unarmed humans are not particularly good at fighting off land-based lions, bears or wolves either.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 11:50, 11 April

2014 (UTC)

Humans have been armed for tens of thousands of years, longer probably, so that's not the issue. However, I think we are much better able to anticipate an attack from any of those beasts than a shark, for example. While the land based predators can be deterred in some cases by rocks, large sticks, (later fire) or even withdrawing to some kind of cranny, none of these options are available to defend against marine predators.-Albannach (talk) 13:39, 13 April 2014 (UTC) ps I have probs with my editing browser btw just now.
I still don't think that the fact that "there are dangerous animals in the sea" is a particularly good argument. And where do hippos kill most people? On land or in the water? Presumably not in the sea anyway. :-) --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 14:37, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

I think it's quite plausible that our ancestors went through a stage in evolution when they fairly regularly spent an hour or a few hours a day in water. There is food in water, there are protein rich fish and shellfish, also some aquatic plants are edible. Some lowland gorillas spend a few hours a day wading looking for food. Primates are adaptable and and, if there are useful resources in water humans and other apes learn to use those resources.

I don't think it's likely that our ancestors were more aquatic than some lowland gorillas. Even in the tropics spending more than a few hours in water means hypothermia. The aquatic ape theory implies that our ancestors became more aquatic than any known primate, then lost that adaptation and became typical land based primates again. That's possible but Occam's razor favours the simpler answer and the simpler answer is that we never stopped being land based. Unless clear evidence of a thoroughly aquatic ape that looks like a human ancestor is ever found we should assume it's unlikely. Proxima Centauri (talk) 15:27, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Objections section and sarcasm[edit]

In the objections section of the page it is full of sarcastic remarks and off colour asides that have nothing to do with science. For example saying that humans fat distribution is because "we're quite well fed compared with wild dumb beasts" and saying early humans were "disgusting skanks" removes any hint of professionalism or objectivity from the article. Also it's dismissal of nose shape with "Speech was rather important in human development, oddly enough." had nothing to do with any scientific objections. This whole section comes across as completely out of context with the rest of the article. — Unsigned, by: Saexon / talk / contribs 2014-05-27T09:54:29‎