Notices
Results 1 to 51 of 51

Thread: Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

  1. #1 Aquatic Ape Hypothesis 
    Forum Freshman Lothar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    22
    I recently watched a TED talk in which Elaine Morgan claimed that Dan Dennet and David Attenborough have embrace or endorsed the aquatic ape hypothesis of human origins. The impression I have from the reading I've done over the years is that the aquatic ape hypothesis has been blown out of the water. Anyone have insight and/or opinion on this?

    Thanks.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Elaine's something of a nut. A very educated nut, but a nut.

    I don't think Attenborough or Dennett has favored her aquatic ape theory, which has been pretty thoroughly criticized, enough that it has very little parsimony. It's still a possibility, but one that isn't supported by evidence and Occam's Razor, whereas other hypotheses are.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Elaine's something of a nut. A very educated nut, but a nut.

    I don't think Attenborough or Dennett has favored her aquatic ape theory, which has been pretty thoroughly criticized, enough that it has very little parsimony. It's still a possibility, but one that isn't supported by evidence and Occam's Razor, whereas other hypotheses are.
    Attenborough talked about it in glowing terms on a radio broadcast devoted to the theory on BBC radio about four years ago.

    I find shades of Alfred Wegner int eh affair, rather than shades of Velikovsky.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    this topic seems to crop up from time to time, and i thought a good summary can be found in this thread of 2007
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman Lothar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    22
    marnixR, interesting thread. Thanks.

    Ophiolite, thanks for the info.

    SkinWalker, yeah, I was surprised too but I can't imagine she'd have the nerve to assert it in a TED talk if it didn't have some basis in reality.

    Unless there is some new evidence that supports the hypothesis I guess it doesn't matter too much that she's found two celebrity scientists who are willing to speak approvingly of her work.

    As far as Dennett goes I've found this statement in Darwin's Dangerous Idea:

    "When I have found myself in the company of distinguished biologists, evolutionary theorists, paleoanthropologists... I have often asked them just to tell me, please, exactly why Elaine Morgan must be wrong... I haven't yet had a reply worth mentioning, aside from those who admit, with a twinkle in their eyes, that they have often wondered the same thing."

    According to Bjorn Ostman (http://pleion.blogspot.com/2009/03/d...sappoints.html) Tim White schooled Dennett on the subject in 2009 so perhaps he would no longer stand behind the above statement. But yeah, the above statement is hardly impressive support for the hypothesis. lol.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    55° N, 3° W
    Posts
    1,085
    I found that TED talk quite disturbing. I never like to see a researcher play the victim; being bullied by the establishment is obviously the ultimate evidence that you are on the right track. It was equally sad to see that this approach pulled all the right strings for the audience - emotion convinces folks more than evidence. Reminded of the TED talk by Kary Mullis that veered off in to the twilight zone about half way through.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    I think a more moving and inspiring TED talk on the topic of paleoanthropology is that given by Louise Leakey... Last year, I think.

    Sorry I kept my comments so brief this morning, I was a bit pressed for time (headed out the door for work) and noticed this topic.

    I remember shortly after that TED by Morgan was released, several anthro-bloggers had a bit to say about it. They did a far better job than I (my interests are on paleoanthropology, but not my expertise. My focus is on cognitive archaeology and ancient cult worship), so I'll try to dig up a couple of links and perhaps post a couple of excerpts in the next 24 hours or so.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Sophomore anthrosciguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    154
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    I think a more moving and inspiring TED talk on the topic of paleoanthropology is that given by Louise Leakey... Last year, I think.

    Sorry I kept my comments so brief this morning, I was a bit pressed for time (headed out the door for work) and noticed this topic.

    I remember shortly after that TED by Morgan was released, several anthro-bloggers had a bit to say about it. They did a far better job than I (my interests are on paleoanthropology, but not my expertise. My focus is on cognitive archaeology and ancient cult worship), so I'll try to dig up a couple of links and perhaps post a couple of excerpts in the next 24 hours or so.
    My site (referenced in the link to the other thread on this subject) now has a page on the TED talk, on the Attenborough BBC radio show, and although I don't have much about Dennett's comment from Darwin's Dangerous Idea, note that he said "My point in raising the aquatic-ape theory is not to defend it against the establishment view, but to use it as an illustration of a deeper worry" and that this worry was "indulging in adaptationist Just So stories". See also Larry Moran's blog post which takes off on another aspect of this quote.

    A couple blog posts specifically on the Morgan TED talk that I know of are Greg Laden's and Ciarán Brewster at adhominin.

    You might also be interested in a Reality Check podcast interview I did with Ottawa Skeptics as a result of the Morgan TED talk.

    Also, Brian Switek of Laelapsdid a post on the overall theory, as did John Hawks.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Freshman Lothar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    22
    Zwirko,

    "I found that TED talk quite disturbing. I never like to see a researcher play the victim; being bullied by the establishment is obviously the ultimate evidence that you are on the right track."

    I have to say, I pretty much felt the same way. I read "The First Human" by Ann Gibbons not too long ago which left me with the impression that human origins research is pretty cutthroat and with competing concentrations of power. I suppose the taste that this work left in my mouth had me somewhat disposed to entertain the victim, bullied researcher bit. But surely an aquatic ape theory is something quite different than, say, Pickford and Senut's discovery and analysis of Orrorin tugenensis. Anyway, yes, that TED talk is unsettling, probably why it has stuck with me. I watched the video some months ago.

    SkinWalker,

    "I think a more moving and inspiring TED talk on the topic of paleoanthropology is that given by Louise Leakey"

    I remember that one as well. Agreed.

    "My focus is on cognitive archaeology and ancient cult worship"

    That sounds pretty fascinating!

    "I'll try to dig up a couple of links and perhaps post a couple of excerpts in the next 24 hours or so."

    Thank you!

    anthrosciguy,

    Wow, great information! If it wasn't so late (or early) I'd comb through all those resources. I much look forward to the time when I can do justice to those links.


    I'm a total noob on this site and I must say that so far the threads have surpassed my expectations. So cool...

    Peace.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,847
    Morgan's presentation seems to overreach - by trying to explain everything from the one cause, it ends up casting doubt on itself.

    Hairlessness, for one thing, just doesn't make any sense as an early stage aquatic adaptation.

    And calling it a "wading ape" hypothesis strikes me as more reasonable.

    But I agree with Dennett, as an outsider just evaluating arguments, that none of the critics of the hypothesis have come up with much of anything convincing , better explanations of their own, or even a reasonable alternative possibility for some of humanity's significant and unique features, when push comes to shove.

    Say what you will of Morgan's loose approach, but quite a few of the so-called respectable alternatives are borderline ridiculous ("see over tall grass" to explain the bipedal transition? C'mon).

    And there is the intriguing circumstance that a lot of the new stuff that's come out after Morgan published (in a book length popularization, rather than some more rigorous format) has lined up with her guesswork: the South African evidence of very early and apparently directly ancestral hominids adopting tideflat and shellfish foraging, an amphibious niche exposing them to mental and social and technological selection pressures; the recent evidence that hominids were bipedal before they hit the grasslands, while they were still in the trees; and so forth.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    sometimes we're looking too much for a master hypothesis to explain why things happened - why for instance does Ambam walk habitually on his hind legs ? because he feels like it ? because he can do it and likes showing off ?

    fact is that if a habit like this spreads through a population for the most fascetious of reasons,no amount of analysis millions of years later would be able to find proof for why or how it happened

    imo bipedalism started when our ancestors still lived in a wooded environment, and that adaptation proved to be a handy one when the woods turned to savannah
    at no point is there any need for an aquatic phase to explain that part of human behaviour
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    imo bipedalism started when our ancestors still lived in a wooded environment, and that adaptation proved to be a handy one when the woods turned to savannah
    at no point is there any need for an aquatic phase to explain that part of human behaviour
    It is my understanding that the savannah hypothesis has been pretty much abandoned, since the timing of bipedalism and the onset of savannah consitions don't match.

    Even if they do there are still a number of human characteristics which are answered by the aquatic ape hypothesis.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,847
    Quote Originally Posted by marnix
    imo bipedalism started when our ancestors still lived in a wooded environment,
    OK, maybe, but how?

    That's a major structural change. The modifications necessary are fundamental and dramatic, and the transitional forms in need of serious explanation and support.
    Quote Originally Posted by marnix
    at no point is there any need for an aquatic phase to explain that part of human behaviour
    If you don't need explanations for major evolutionary transformations in physical form, OK. There's no argument with lack of interest.

    But so far there appears to be no plausible explanation for the transition to bipedalism (and not much more explanation of several other human features) except - possibly - the wading ape hypothesis. We are in an arena in which this kind of stuff
    fact is that if a habit like this spreads through a population for the most fascetious of reasons
    is being offered as serious explanation, in a vacuum.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    all i'm saying is that you might be looking for a black cat in a dark room that happens not to be there
    for the moment the evidence is far from compelling for any of the explanations
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    for the moment the evidence is far from compelling for any of the explanations
    That sound a tad like George W. Bush stating that the jury is still out on evolution.

    Sometimes a theory or hypothesis explain millions of observed phenomena with one sweep. It doesn't make it wrong by default. If that was the case, we'd need to scrap the collective works of Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein and Wegener.

    Those theories are of course very rare, and any sound mind needs to be wary of lust for sensation. Even though the AAH is a no brainer at this point.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    granted that natural selection and plate tectonics are amongst a select few scientific theories that have thrown plenty of light on the topics they aimed to explain

    however, the AAH can't be ranked amongst this illustrious lot
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    granted that natural selection and plate tectonics are amongst a select few scientific theories that have thrown plenty of light on the topics they aimed to explain
    however, the AAH can't be ranked amongst this illustrious lot
    It would be, if it has merit. Then it would be the greatest discovery for science since Einstein and Wegener, correct? A much better understanding into who we are ourselves and why.
    Which I guess is the reason why anthropology shun the bloody thing like the plague.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Which I guess is the reason why anthropology shun the bloody thing like the plague.
    not really - the example of Wegener and plate tectonics does not imply that every shunned theory MUST of necessity have merit
    most of the time scientists are right to shun scientific theories that have been found wanting - once a theory has been falsified, it becomes an outdated theory
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,150
    1- What is the aquatic ape theory? (in a nutshell)
    2- Which observations has lead to this idea?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    1- What is the aquatic ape theory? (in a nutshell)
    2- Which observations has lead to this idea?
    The aquatic ape hypothesis (some have pointed out that the term 'hypothesis' is more correct to use rather than 'theory' at the concept's current stage) theorizes that the common ancestors of modern humans spent a period of time adapting to life in a semi-aquatic environment.
    It is largely based on studies of human physiognomy, focusing on differences between humans and other great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans), and apparent similarities between humans and some aquatic and/or semi-aquatic mammals (cetaceans, seals, hippos, elephants).
    Human physiognomy traits allegdedly bearing witness of a past semi-aquatic existence includes human lack of body hair coupled with a layer of subcutaneous insular fat; habitual bipedalism; a hooded nose; sweating; tears; voluntary breath control, the use of speech and the diving reflex; swimming ability with the extra fat human infant and certain benefits of water birth; certain traits of the kidney and requirement of the human brain for certain nutrients which are mostly found in seafood.
    It also suggests that some traits of behavior with modern homo sapiens can be coupled to a biological water-stage, eg. preference of habitat along bodies of water and habitual bathing.
    Very little is based on fossil record, largely because the available fossils are inconclusive, given that most elements of the hypothesis relates to soft tissue, which doesn't survive fossilization. Those elements relating to hard tissue, eg. bipedalism, can be interpreted both for and against the aquatic ape hypothesis.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Elaine's something of a nut. A very educated nut, but a nut.
    Morgan is no more a nut for her time, than Galileo was for his. Or Darwin. Or Anaxagoras. Or Gandhi.
    Granted, it is a problem, that Morgan originally took on this splash-splash notion in the wake of a feminist political agenda, but once she sieved that out and focused on the neutral details, she has taken giant leaps forward with this suggestion, now that the established clergy lacked the will.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    It's still a possibility, but one that isn't supported by evidence and Occam's Razor, whereas other hypotheses are.
    How in the devil can so many people get themselves to write that???
    The AAH is indeed supported by Occam's Razor, so much more than other suggestions.

    Take this one observation:
    Among all the mammalian species in the animal kingdom, there are only two groups of species that shed their fur; aquatics/semi-aquatics and underground dwellers. Among all the mammalian species, there is only one group that shed their fur and produce a subcutanous layer of insular fat, and that is the aquatics.

    Based on that one detail, what would Occam's Razor suggest that humans are, now that modern humans are lacking body hair and have an insular fat layer?

    Or maybe rather the question is: Do humans follow the same pattern as the rest of the animal kingdom, or do they exist by their very own rules and start creating peacock's tales left and right? What would Occam's Razor have to say about that?
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    not really - the example of Wegener and plate tectonics does not imply that every shunned theory MUST of necessity have merit.
    I absolutely agree. As said, Galileos and Darwins are extremely rare, and Erich von Dänikens and Dan Browns are in abundance. But on the flipside, some revolutionizing theories with merit get shunned for the wrong reasons; political, social, arrogance. And I see clear indications of this in this the ballad of the aquatic ape.

    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    once a theory has been falsified, it becomes an outdated theory
    You mean like plate tectonics?
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,564
    I absolutely agree. As said, Galileos and Darwins are extremely rare, and Erich von Dänikens and Dan Browns are in abundance. But on the flipside, some revolutionizing theories with merit get shunned for the wrong reasons; political, social, arrogance. And I see clear indications of this in this the ballad of the aquatic ape.
    Out of interest, which other theories do you feel were unduly shunned for the wrong reasons?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    once a theory has been falsified, it becomes an outdated theory
    You mean like plate tectonics?
    no, like the AAT - for starters, most of the evidence is circumstantial, and very little of it makes testable predictions
    the one clearly testable prediction, the one of the type C retroviral attack marker, has been disproven

    so on balance and on current evidence i'd say the AAT is more likely to be wrong than right
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Out of interest, which other theories do you feel were unduly shunned for the wrong reasons?
    Well, for starters, heliocentrism and plate tectonics. And a lot of valid ideas in between. To a far extent even theory of evolution.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    no, like the AAT - for starters, most of the evidence is circumstantial, and very little of it makes testable predictions
    Exactly the same as Wegener's early version of plate tectonics. Most of what he had were the coast lines of Africa and South America, looking like pieces of a giant puzzle, along with fallible reports of a Greenlandic landscape. Beyond that, he only had a hunch. What a pathetic childish basis for suggesting that all these giant continents move, he must've been crazy. He couldn't even explain what the mechanism behind it was, his best shot was just 'tidal waves?' Aparently, it is not worth wasting valuable geology career time on a pathetic suggestion like that from some meteorologist.

    The problem is that evidence doesn't pop up untill the coppers get off their arse and go look for it. All someone had to say about plate tectonics was 'radioactivity?' and suddenly the evidence popped up everywhere. And all someone has to say about AAH is 'Ardipithecus?', 'Oreopithecus?' and 'big toes?', and then you even have fossil evidence for AAH popping up. Evidence that is screaming from the drawers of the faculties to be pulled out and re-examined. But our current academic establishment is not gonna waste valuable anthropological career time on some zoologist's pathetic splash-splash hunch, which was only followed up upon by some nutty hag of a Tv screenplay writer.

    I hate winding up being so bloody confrontational in this, but try to understand my frustration. With the AAH, I have the distinct sensation of looking through Galileo's telescope and having Creation explode in my head. And at the same time, Pope Gregory is sitting right next to us, and he refuses to even look into that bloody telescope. I'm left feeling deeply depressed as to the scientific potential of the human animal.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    no need to get on your high horse - remember that my final statement was that "on balance and on current evidence i'd say the AAT is more likely to be wrong than right"

    as in all good science, the door remains open to new evidence coming in, but as things stand my verdict must remain that the evidence so far is not compelling

    i have looked at the AAT, and about 10years ago i thought it was a neat little theory, somewhat woolly but not without promise - however as far as i'm aware no new evidence has come in support and some key pieces of evidence have shown to be flawed
    unfortunately in science beautiful theories get sunk by one ugly fact - that, imo, has happened to the AAT
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,564
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Out of interest, which other theories do you feel were unduly shunned for the wrong reasons?
    Well, for starters, heliocentrism and plate tectonics. And a lot of valid ideas in between. To a far extent even theory of evolution.
    By 'other' I meant aside from plate tectonics. Evolution was quite rapidly accepted by the scientific community of the time. So that just leaves heliocentrism, which was primarily opposed on religious grounds by a pre-enlightenment scientific/religious community.

    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    All right, then let me kill my paranoia about the 'establishment' for a second, and present the following testable prediction:

    There's a reasonable chance to find more proto-human fossils similar to Sahelanthropus (7mya, the 'Toumai' fossil) in the Sahara. This based on a potential link between Ardipithecus (4.4mya, considered a human ancestor) and the primate Oreopithecus (9-7mya). Thus making the latter a potential human ancestor, and perhaps the first (or one of the first) divergent proto-human species not of the same lineage as the chimpanzee. A potential link between Oreopithecus and Ardipithecus is only based on a peculiar similarity between these two species' big toes, looking somewhat similar to that of a modern human thumb (a 'thumb-toe which exist on all great apes today apart from modern humans').
    The focus of Oreopithecus as an aquatic ape link is based on the definition of Oreopithecus as a semi-aquatic primate, as based on the geological layers which the species has been found in on Sardinia and in Northern Italy, layers which bear witness of wetlands. These Mediterranean areas were in late Miocene an archipelago with tropical temperatures, quite possibly the 'beach' habitat suggested by AAH. Also, studies of Oreopithecus' pelvis strongly indicates that it was bipedal as with Ardipithecus, Australopitehcus and Homo. With geological change, this Mediterranean archipelago found contact with continental Europe, and Oreopithecus went extinct from incoming land predators.
    (An attempted map of around the suggested time frame can be seen here http://cpgeosystems.com/13_Mid_Mio_Eurmap_sm.jpg - 13mya)
    This opens the possibility that Sahelanthropus may represent a geographical migration of early proto-humans (represented by Oreopithecus) from this Mediterranean archipelago down through Sahara along a river system, which geological mechanism has since dried away, and which Sahelanthropus has been found alongside. At a later stage proto-humans then settled around the Afar Depression as suggested by Morgan, where the human family continued its development across Ardipithecus, Australopithecus and Homo, more or less to modern times with Homo Sapiens (~150-75k).
    This 'migration' notion is largely based on one fossil only (Sahelanthropus) from the suggested migration time (~7mya, simultaneously with the extinction of Oreopithecus). More proto-human fossils, provided that they exist, should be uncovered in this Sahara region, if to support it.

    If true, the above would come into conflict with the molecular clock technique, where mitochondrial DNA analysis since around 1990 has suggested that the last common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees existed as late as 6mya, this date making the above impossible. However, in later years the precision of the molecular clock technique has been drawn into question, and one re-evaluation (White et al, 2000) suggests that the values used to predict the date is difficult to predict precisely, which can vastly alter the age of this last common ancestor; their conclusion sets the value to anything from 5mya and as much as 13mya, leaving an option open for the above Oreopithecus link.

    (Anyway, that's one more suggestion for the pile. I needed to get it off, before my head explodes.)

    marnix, you indicate that you consider the AAH a 'beautiful' theory. Why does that subjective term pop up in your head, when thinking about this hypothesis? Is it possible that in your biological subconsciusness, you recognize the suggested scenario, where your own species originated from? (The 'beach')
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Forum Senior
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    mumbai
    Posts
    378
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    All right, then let me kill my paranoia about the 'establishment' for a second, and present the following testable prediction:
    Have you come across this site? http://www.aquaticape.org/aatclaims.html .It wrongs AAT/H all the way. I am anxious to read your response to it.
    I am not a biologist but I am much much interested in my ancestry.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    8,795
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    All right, then let me kill my paranoia about the 'establishment' for a second, and present the following testable prediction:

    There's a reasonable chance to find more proto-human fossils similar to Sahelanthropus (7mya, the 'Toumai' fossil) in the Sahara. This based on a potential link between Ardipithecus (4.4mya, considered a human ancestor) and the primate Oreopithecus (9-7mya). Thus making the latter a potential human ancestor, and perhaps the first (or one of the first) divergent proto-human species not of the same lineage as the chimpanzee. A potential link between Oreopithecus and Ardipithecus is only based on a peculiar similarity between these two species' big toes, looking somewhat similar to that of a modern human thumb (a 'thumb-toe which exist on all great apes today apart from modern humans').
    The focus of Oreopithecus as an aquatic ape link is based on the definition of Oreopithecus as a semi-aquatic primate, as based on the geological layers which the species has been found in on Sardinia and in Northern Italy, layers which bear witness of wetlands. These Mediterranean areas were in late Miocene an archipelago with tropical temperatures, quite possibly the 'beach' habitat suggested by AAH. Also, studies of Oreopithecus' pelvis strongly indicates that it was bipedal as with Ardipithecus, Australopitehcus and Homo. With geological change, this Mediterranean archipelago found contact with continental Europe, and Oreopithecus went extinct from incoming land predators.
    (An attempted map of around the suggested time frame can be seen here http://cpgeosystems.com/13_Mid_Mio_Eurmap_sm.jpg - 13mya)
    This opens the possibility that Sahelanthropus may represent a geographical migration of early proto-humans (represented by Oreopithecus) from this Mediterranean archipelago down through Sahara along a river system, which geological mechanism has since dried away, and which Sahelanthropus has been found alongside. At a later stage proto-humans then settled around the Afar Depression as suggested by Morgan, where the human family continued its development across Ardipithecus, Australopithecus and Homo, more or less to modern times with Homo Sapiens (~150-75k).
    This 'migration' notion is largely based on one fossil only (Sahelanthropus) from the suggested migration time (~7mya, simultaneously with the extinction of Oreopithecus). More proto-human fossils, provided that they exist, should be uncovered in this Sahara region, if to support it.

    If true, the above would come into conflict with the molecular clock technique, where mitochondrial DNA analysis since around 1990 has suggested that the last common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees existed as late as 6mya, this date making the above impossible. However, in later years the precision of the molecular clock technique has been drawn into question, and one re-evaluation (White et al, 2000) suggests that the values used to predict the date is difficult to predict precisely, which can vastly alter the age of this last common ancestor; their conclusion sets the value to anything from 5mya and as much as 13mya, leaving an option open for the above Oreopithecus link.

    (Anyway, that's one more suggestion for the pile. I needed to get it off, before my head explodes.)

    marnix, you indicate that you consider the AAH a 'beautiful' theory. Why does that subjective term pop up in your head, when thinking about this hypothesis? Is it possible that in your biological subconsciusness, you recognize the suggested scenario, where your own species originated from? (The 'beach')
    I don't find these arguments convincing at all.

    Aside from living in a swamp, the Oreopithecus does not seem to have many of the features that the AAH is supposed to explain.
    According to the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oreopithecus it had short legs, ate plants, and was adapted to swinging from trees. According to the AAH, the relatively long legs of humans developed in the aquatic stage for wading, and we developed a taste for seafood (not plants) to feed our big brains.

    The Sahelanthropus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahelanthropus is thought by some to be a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. So it must not have very many of those human-like traits that were supposedly developed in the aquatic stage. No big brain to feed here - it's the size of a chimp's.

    Nothing really fits.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Aside from living in a swamp, the Oreopithecus does not seem to have many of the features that the AAH is supposed to explain.
    According to the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oreopithecus it had short legs, ate plants, and was adapted to swinging from trees. According to the AAH, the relatively long legs of humans developed in the aquatic stage for wading, and we developed a taste for seafood (not plants) to feed our big brains.
    There's a variation of AAH which suggests a flooded woodland as the 'first habitat', where a semi-aquatic ape both waded and climbed. But I have not been able to read up on what that is based on; I'm guessing studies of limb joints, but that's just off the top of my head, I don't know much about that detail. But it does leave the option open for an aquatic stage to have begun when a common ancestor to both humans and chimps had to adapt to flooded jungle, and migrated away from a chimp lineage. Which could sound like the Oreopithecus you describe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    The Sahelanthropus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahelanthropus is thought by some to be a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. So it must not have very many of those human-like traits that were supposedly developed in the aquatic stage. No big brain to feed here - it's the size of a chimp's.
    The brain of Ardipithecus and Australopithecus was also of that size. The question is what drove the human brain to increase exponentially from the 300cc of Ardipithecus and 400 of Australopithecus, and to the peak 1500 of the Neanderthal, when chimpanzees stagnated in that field (350cc). Which type of habitat forced proto-humans to take that evolutionary route? And considering a 'sea-food' mechanism would make sense, when comparing with the large brains of other aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals, eg. cetaceans. In this context, Oreopithecus had 200cc, so there's a possibility for a continous growth towards modern man since that species.
    http://www.isita-org.com/jass/Conten...10_05_Alba.pdf (page 25)

    And Sahelanthropus (7mya) was for a long time contested to be an ancestor to humans only, a step before Australopithecus (3.2mya) and Ardipithecus (4.4mya). The primary reason why it's currently considered a common ancestor to humans and chimps, perhaps the last one, is because of the molecular clock technique, which sets the last common ancestor to 6mya. But this technique's accuracy is now being drawn into question, leaving the option open for Sahelanthropus being a sole human ancestor, and possibly a mid stage from Oreopithecus to Ardipithecus /Australopithecus.
    Unfortunately, Sahelanthropus was not found with bones from below the scull, so no conclusions can be made about potential bipedality, as could with Ardipithecus and Australopithecus (and Oreopithecus), which could have made a stronger case in suggesting that Sahelanthropus is not a common ancestor for humans/chimps, but a sole human ancestor.

    Somebody needs to get back digging in the Sahara.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by uday yadav
    Have you come across this site? http://www.aquaticape.org/aatclaims.html .It wrongs AAT/H all the way. I am anxious to read your response to it.
    Ever seen this one?
    http://www.creationism.org/

    No comparison intended, I read through the entire aquaticape.org about once a year. But much of it is still misrepresentation.
    Just the suggestion as to why AAH is so 'popular' among the uninitiated ('the peasantry', if you will); that it's because people don't know what they're talking about, because they just like a good story and because the AAH is such a wonderful 'simple' explanation to 20 million phenomena in humans.
    First of all, the AAH is not simple, you'd have to know at least a little bit about comparative fysiognomy and etology of primates and aquatic/semi-aquatic mammals (and even birds), along with geological ages, to glance just a little bit into Galileo's telescope. So it's not because it's simple, that the 'rabble' take AAH to heart so quickly, when having been introduced to it to some degree. I imagine that most's reason is simply this: They recognize the suggested habitat within themselves. The beach.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Out of interest, which other theories do you feel were unduly shunned for the wrong reasons?
    Well, for starters, heliocentrism and plate tectonics. And a lot of valid ideas in between. To a far extent even theory of evolution.
    By 'other' I meant aside from plate tectonics. Evolution was quite rapidly accepted by the scientific community of the time. So that just leaves heliocentrism, which was primarily opposed on religious grounds by a pre-enlightenment scientific/religious community.

    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    I was going to chime in on that one. Heliocentrism was rejected because it couldn't generate testable predictions. In its original form, it had the planets following circular orbits around the Sun, which conflicted with observation. The Ptolemaic system, on the other hand, actually gave accurate predictions. They just had very bizarre reasoning behind them.

    It wasn't until Johannes Kepler came up with a theory of elliptical orbits and his three laws that it became possible to compare heliocentrism with astronomical observations well enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was true.

    It's interesting to bring up these kinds of comparisons because maybe AAH will turn out the same way: it simply needs a key modification.

    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    sometimes we're looking too much for a master hypothesis to explain why things happened - why for instance does Ambam walk habitually on his hind legs ? because he feels like it ? because he can do it and likes showing off ?

    fact is that if a habit like this spreads through a population for the most fascetious of reasons,no amount of analysis millions of years later would be able to find proof for why or how it happened

    imo bipedalism started when our ancestors still lived in a wooded environment, and that adaptation proved to be a handy one when the woods turned to savannah
    at no point is there any need for an aquatic phase to explain that part of human behaviour
    Yeah. It could be partially motivated by pure psychology. Maybe predators who saw a human standing upright mistook that to mean they were a bigger animal and chose instead to attack the nearby smaller/weaker looking humans on all fours instead. There are lots of predatory animals that are fooled by illusory differences in size, such as opening an umbrella when facing one, or raising your arms high above your head to increase your apparent height.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  36. #35  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,564
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Out of interest, which other theories do you feel were unduly shunned for the wrong reasons?
    Well, for starters, heliocentrism and plate tectonics. And a lot of valid ideas in between. To a far extent even theory of evolution.
    By 'other' I meant aside from plate tectonics. Evolution was quite rapidly accepted by the scientific community of the time. So that just leaves heliocentrism, which was primarily opposed on religious grounds by a pre-enlightenment scientific/religious community.

    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    I was going to chime in on that one. Heliocentrism was rejected because it couldn't generate testable predictions. In its original form, it had the planets following circular orbits around the Sun, which conflicted with observation. The Ptolemaic system, on the other hand, actually gave accurate predictions. They just had very bizarre reasoning behind them.

    It wasn't until Johannes Kepler came up with a theory of elliptical orbits and his three laws that it became possible to compare heliocentrism with astronomical observations well enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was true.
    A fair point, but not a counter to the point I was making (though perhaps you were not attempting to counter it). It was claimed that many putative scientific theories are opposed unjustly. I am wondering which theories. Heliocentrism was offered up as an example. I dismissed it for one reason, and you have given a better reason to dismiss the example. My point stands.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's interesting to bring up these kinds of comparisons because maybe AAH will turn out the same way: it simply needs a key modification.
    But, as with the first iteration of heliocentrism, until such a modification has been made, opposition is the correct stance. It is not practical to nurture broken hypotheses on the off chance they'll mature into a functional model. The vast majority of hypotheses never do. The figure for falsified hypotheses is lower still.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  37. #36  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    There's a good list here:
    http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  38. #37  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Out of interest, which other theories do you feel were unduly shunned for the wrong reasons?
    Well, for starters, heliocentrism and plate tectonics. And a lot of valid ideas in between. To a far extent even theory of evolution.
    By 'other' I meant aside from plate tectonics. Evolution was quite rapidly accepted by the scientific community of the time. So that just leaves heliocentrism, which was primarily opposed on religious grounds by a pre-enlightenment scientific/religious community.

    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    I was going to chime in on that one. Heliocentrism was rejected because it couldn't generate testable predictions. In its original form, it had the planets following circular orbits around the Sun, which conflicted with observation. The Ptolemaic system, on the other hand, actually gave accurate predictions. They just had very bizarre reasoning behind them.

    It wasn't until Johannes Kepler came up with a theory of elliptical orbits and his three laws that it became possible to compare heliocentrism with astronomical observations well enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was true.
    A fair point, but not a counter to the point I was making (though perhaps you were not attempting to counter it). It was claimed that many putative scientific theories are opposed unjustly. I am wondering which theories. Heliocentrism was offered up as an example. I dismissed it for one reason, and you have given a better reason to dismiss the example. My point stands.
    Yeah. Actually I meant to strengthen your point by clarifying that the reason for rejecting heliocentrism wasn't purely religious. It had a valid scientific basis.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's interesting to bring up these kinds of comparisons because maybe AAH will turn out the same way: it simply needs a key modification.
    But, as with the first iteration of heliocentrism, until such a modification has been made, opposition is the correct stance. It is not practical to nurture broken hypotheses on the off chance they'll mature into a functional model. The vast majority of hypotheses never do. The figure for falsified hypotheses is lower still.
    It's essential for proponents of broken theories to admit that they're broken in their current form. However, that's no reason not to continue looking for the missing pieces. Johannes Kepler would have done us all a great disservice by surrendering to the prevailing view of the day instead of continuing his lines of inquiry to their conclusion. It wasn't exactly an easy battle on his part, getting the notes from Tycho Brahe's estate, and sponsorships he needed to continue his research, etc.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  39. #38  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,564
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's essential for proponents of broken theories to admit that they're broken in their current form. However, that's no reason not to continue looking for the missing pieces.
    There's a danger inherent there though- many proponents of a hypothesis will simply move the goalposts forever rather than scrap it and start again from first principles. It's a natural response, but we must be very wary of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    There's a good list here:
    http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html
    Thanks, that's an interesting list. I don't have time to examine it fully just now, though I do note that at least one of the entries (Watson and Crick on DNA), is certainly not an example of an unfairly suppressed hypothesis. Watson and Crick's first attempts to model DNA were ill-conceived and failed on some basic principles of chemistry. That, combined with some political (rather than scientific) barriers threatened their work. However it didn't derail it, and when they finally published, they published in Nature, probably the most-read scientific journal in the world. Hard to see how that counts as 'opposed', unjustly or otherwise.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  40. #39  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    8,795
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    There's a good list here:
    http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html
    Are all opposed theories unjustly opposed? If so, then it must be true that all theories are correct. Can you give us some criteria to distinguish unjustly opposed theories from incorrect theories? What, in your mind, puts the AAH into the unjustly opposed category? Why should we not accuse you of unjustly opposing the savannah hypothesis, or whatever is the alternative to AAH?

    You mention a telescope. What do you think is the AAH equivalent of Galileo's telescope? Is it the Oreopithecus (because it lived in a swamp so it must be the aquatic ape smoking gun)?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  41. #40  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    You mention a telescope. What do you think is the AAH equivalent of Galileo's telescope? Is it the Oreopithecus (because it lived in a swamp so it must be the aquatic ape smoking gun)?
    That would more be the naked skin and erect bipedalism of modern Homo Sapiens. We haven't (yet?) established a direct link between Oreopithecus and the Homo family, so that's like staring into a dark spot on the heavens. But that we walk erect, have shed our fur and created a layer of blubber that lasts to this day is impossible to dispute. This would be aiming the telescope towards Jupiter.
    And when you find biological presedence in countless aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures having resorted to similar solutions, and none among pure terrestrials or the other great apes, then these 'The Big 2' unique human characteristics would be the smoking aquatic ape gun. Once you've gazed on those two in the 'splash-splash' light, you cannot take your eyes off that telescope. That would be the folly.

    And then there are all the other indications towards a semi-aquatic stage. Preference of habitat, hooded nose, speech, water birth, human kidney, human spleen, diving reflex. Make some testable predictions on those, and let's see what happens. Compare scrath marks on the teeth of homo, australopithecus, ardipithecus, sahelanthropus and oreopithecus, and let's see what they ate. I dare you.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  42. #41  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    But that we walk erect, have shed our fur and created a layer of blubber that lasts to this day is impossible to dispute.
    apart from walking erect, we haven't got an inkling of WHEN we shed our fur and got our subcutaneous fat (calling it blubber may be a bit off the mark), hence we don't know whether they can be correlated with the fossils you're quoting
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  43. #42  
    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Scania, Sweden
    Posts
    428
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    But that we walk erect, have shed our fur and created a layer of blubber that lasts to this day is impossible to dispute.
    apart from walking erect, we haven't got an inkling of WHEN we shed our fur and got our subcutaneous fat (calling it blubber may be a bit off the mark), hence we don't know whether they can be correlated with the fossils you're quoting
    I agree and it's a good point. Someone pointed out that this debate is centered on soft tissue that doesn't survive fossilization. That's a minor tragedy in this topic (unless we one day find an Archeopteryx-like proto-human fossil, which is not likely). Some have suggested some dates based on DNA-analysis, but there might be severe inaccuracies in the current molecular clock technique.

    But I was referring to 'The Big 2' in modern Homo Sapiens. This undenieable observation has fueled AAH from day one. In that sense, they are a hell of a smoking gun.
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. (History) shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources."
    - Carl Sagan, 1980


    Reply With Quote  
     

  44. #43  
    Forum Freshman chakazul's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    67
    Greetings guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I was going to chime in on that one. Heliocentrism was rejected because it couldn't generate testable predictions. In its original form, it had the planets following circular orbits around the Sun, which conflicted with observation. The Ptolemaic system, on the other hand, actually gave accurate predictions. They just had very bizarre reasoning behind them.

    It wasn't until Johannes Kepler came up with a theory of elliptical orbits and his three laws that it became possible to compare heliocentrism with astronomical observations well enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was true.

    It's interesting to bring up these kinds of comparisons because maybe AAH will turn out the same way: it simply needs a key modification.
    I think the same thing is happening to AAH, and the key modification will be its time frame.

    Hardy and Morgan originally proposed a single, short period of semi-aquatic phase in the early human evolution. They speculated on the "fossil gap" between Proconsul and Australopith, when the scientists still knew very little about that period. But now we know about Ardi, who filled the fossil gap and show no sign of the intense modifications required by AAH. This effectively disproved the single semi-aquatic phase.

    Some recent researchers e.g. Stephen Cunnane proposed another time frame, which is more progressive -- our early evolution (Australopiths or earlier, and early Homo) would took place in freshwater habitats, like the lakes and rivers in Africa, and subsequently (later Homo erectus, neanderthals and sapiens) invaded the saline coastlines. Thus our many features could have evolved in different times, e.g. bipedalism, smaller teeth and some increase in brain size occurred when our ancestors waded and fed in shallow freshwater; then naked skin, fat, streamlined body, diving reflex and exponential increase in brain size occured when they/we swam and dived for oysters and fish along the coastlines.

    Essentially, we were not descended from an aquatic ape that returned to land -- we are the aquatic ape, so to speak.

    I think this is more reasonable than a single burst of evolution in the distance past, as evolution usually takes time (cf. evolution of cetaceans). And this timeline is more supported by evidences.

    Chak
    Be entertained by information, and informed by entertainment.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  45. #44  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    One sort of "hard tissue" we might examine is the relationship (and possible progression) between cracking shellfish, and chipping stone. It is a very small step to go from breaking oysters, then handling its own shards to cut the meat, to fashioning a stone blade. Any ideas on what to look for?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  46. #45  
    Forum Freshman chakazul's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by CEngelbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    I'm just not sure I see where all these unjustly opposed theories are.
    There's a good list here:
    http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html
    Thanks for the nice list... I read through all of it.
    Sad is how the long strugglings were then concealed and pretended that all followed a "normal" progress of science. Only those cases against some religious establishment (but no scientific establishment) are still taught in schools.

    So, suppose 5 or 10 years later, Hardy and Morgan will be on the list?
    Be entertained by information, and informed by entertainment.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  47. #46  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    741
    Chakazal, I doubt very much that Morgan will make that list; too many of the 'facts' she relies on turn out to be dubious or wrong - anthrosciguy's references are extensive and can't be ignored to make Morgan's mistakes go away. Superficial similarities with other groups of animals are just that - superficial.

    Even the evolutionary histories of pachyderms for example are as speculative as that of homo sapiens - does anyone even know if precursor to elephants 'Moeritherium' were furless? What's obvious is that not all of the recent relatives of elephants were furless - mastodons and mammoths for example - and there is no evidence the hairlessness of modern elephants was ever an aquatic adaptation; arguing that the similarities with humans are evidence of similar adaptation to aquatic living doesn't really work.

    Subcutaneous fat is another AAH fallacy - and if it could rapidly evolve to provide insulation of the body core in an aquatic environment it could rapidly evolve in furless land based hominids to provide better insulation of the body core. There is no need for a shift to aquatic form and back to terrestrial to explain the evolution of something that, on closer examination is far more similar to other primates than to any aquatic animal.

    Take away all that Morgan got wrong and there's not much left. Which is not to say I'm impressed by scholarship generally over the evolution of human furlessness (a particular interest of mine - you can take a look at http://www.thescienceforum.com/The-e...ss.-22792t.php for some of my thinking on this) by others - the starting point has to be the way we are now in order to understand how we got to be that way and to my knowledge not one of the academics who has published on the subject noticed that hairs have a clear tactile sensory function. Critical to our evolution? Maybe not but if it's not given any consideration how would they know? Treating body hair as a functionless vestige when it has a clear and useful function doesn't impress me. Morgan AFAIK has been one more who failed to notice let alone give that function any serious consideration.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  48. #47  
    Forum Freshman chakazul's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos
    Chakazal, I doubt very much that Morgan will make that list; too many of the 'facts' she relies on turn out to be dubious or wrong - anthrosciguy's references are extensive and can't be ignored to make Morgan's mistakes go away. Superficial similarities with other groups of animals are just that - superficial.
    Hi Ken~
    I've read anthrosciguy's (aka Jim Moore's) website many times, and it's always a good read. I admire his thoughtfulness of the whole issue, and indeed exposed many of the holes in AAH. But after some research, I've to conclude that his counter-arguments, though powerful, are not sufficient to prove AAH wrong -- If Morgan's arguments are superficial, Jim's arguments are equally superficial as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos
    Even the evolutionary histories of pachyderms for example are as speculative as that of homo sapiens - does anyone even know if precursor to elephants 'Moeritherium' were furless? What's obvious is that not all of the recent relatives of elephants were furless - mastodons and mammoths for example - and there is no evidence the hairlessness of modern elephants was ever an aquatic adaptation; arguing that the similarities with humans are evidence of similar adaptation to aquatic living doesn't really work.
    I agree that the nakedness of the elephant can be adequately explained by its small surface-to-volume ratio and nothing else. The thing is that Elaine Morgan has predicted its semi-aquatic ancestry some decades ago, based on some "superficial" observations, and now proved to be true. Isn't it amazing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos
    Subcutaneous fat is another AAH fallacy - and if it could rapidly evolve to provide insulation of the body core in an aquatic environment it could rapidly evolve in furless land based hominids to provide better insulation of the body core. There is no need for a shift to aquatic form and back to terrestrial to explain the evolution of something that, on closer examination is far more similar to other primates than to any aquatic animal.
    You gotta ask why no any other mammal in the tropics had evolved a significant amount of fat, if it's that useful, for whatever reason. In fact, the arrangement of fat in human is very strange and unique among primates -- fat is concentrated at the lower part of our body (lower abdomen, buttocks, legs) and the upper part (head, neck, shoulders) is fat-free. This is what best explained by wading vertically in water. Quoting a paper by Niemitz:
    "No other functions than thermoregulation in a wading fashion are suitable to explain the craniocaudal division of subcutaneous fatty tissue of man into a thermoregulatory exchange surface in the upper half of the body on the one hand and an insulating abdomen and hind extremities on the other."

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos
    Take away all that Morgan got wrong and there's not much left. Which is not to say I'm impressed by scholarship generally over the evolution of human furlessness (a particular interest of mine - you can take a look at http://www.thescienceforum.com/The-e...ss.-22792t.php for some of my thinking on this) by others - the starting point has to be the way we are now in order to understand how we got to be that way and to my knowledge not one of the academics who has published on the subject noticed that hairs have a clear tactile sensory function. Critical to our evolution? Maybe not but if it's not given any consideration how would they know? Treating body hair as a functionless vestige when it has a clear and useful function doesn't impress me. Morgan AFAIK has been one more who failed to notice let alone give that function any serious consideration.
    Your mentioning of our tactile sense is very interesting. But consider a few things...
    - Can we be sure that the shortening of hair do increase their sensitivity? (some experiments could verify that)
    - What kind of selective pressure that selects for a better tactile sense is big enough to overcome the disadvantage of losing the protective layer?
    Be entertained by information, and informed by entertainment.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  49. #48  
    Forum Freshman chakazul's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    One sort of "hard tissue" we might examine is the relationship (and possible progression) between cracking shellfish, and chipping stone. It is a very small step to go from breaking oysters, then handling its own shards to cut the meat, to fashioning a stone blade. Any ideas on what to look for?
    But, according to the new AAH timeline (first freshwater, later seashore), the advance of stone tools predates our supposed coastal phase in that oysters were consumed. The oldest stone tools, the Oldowan industry, appeared around 2.6 Mya (million years ago), while the earliest evidence of seafood consumption -- by Homo erectus 1.8 Mya -- came much later.

    I like the analogy between oyster shells and stone chips, it may have provided our ancestors a good start, but it's possible only if we can prove that some earlier hominins, say, Homo habilis, has started to exploit the coastlines.
    Be entertained by information, and informed by entertainment.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  50. #49  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by chakazul

    I like the analogy between oyster shells and stone chips, it may have provided our ancestors a good start, but it's possible only if we can prove that some earlier hominins, say, Homo habilis, has started to exploit the coastlines.
    That will be very difficult to achieve if it turns out that the ocean level was lower during the time in question.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  51. #50  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    741
    Chakazul, so much of the thinking on this is so speculative that I'm not sure anyone can provide clear and conclusive answers. It seems to me that getting from a terrestrial hominid ancestor to homo sapiens via a semi-aquatic intermediary would involve a more rapid rate of evolution with more intermediary forms than having our traits evolve more directly. I don't claim to have looked into this in the depth required as Jim Moore seems to have done - but I note that several of the proposed evolutionary pressures and pathways look capable of leading to specific traits; as I've suggested elsewhere much rests on the habits and social customs of small sub-populations as well as the specific environmental conditions they endured. These may be unknowable. I've tended to focus on body hair - just one of the traits AAH tries to explain - and can't see any reason that this would require an aquatic lifestyle to evolve. I actually wonder if this trait is the result of chance mutation rather than adaptation* within a species that is a clever tool user who could tolerate what may have been - during cold spells - more disadvantage than advantage. It can't be as simple as (for example) less body hair equals superior endurance in hot conditions given that it also takes more watery and abundant sweat and I don't believe that necessary complimentary traits will arise just because they would be appropriate; the genetics of a trait needs to come into existence via mutation and selection has to take away that part of the gene pool that doesn't have that trait. Too much of the speculation fails to really explain how traits that are not (especially if arrived at by incremental change) making a crucial life and death difference, come to dominate within a population.
    As for my own assertions re the sensory functions of hair - sure, experimental evidence comparing thick fur to sparse fine hairs with respect to sensitivity would be useful. I doubt this has a high priority and I'm in no position to do it. I only point out that, all else equal, there are logical reasons why fine sparse hairs would be more sensitive to very small movements/vibrations than densely packed and heavier hairs. Self experiment isn't proof, but I know that the almost invisibly fine hairs over my cheekbones near my eyes, over my nose and on my ears are extremely sensitive - something disturbs them and it's all I can do not to rub or scratch. The number, type and placement of nerve endings is variable by location and that would need to be considered as one of the factors involved. Improved awareness via hair sensitivity of insects or other parasites could have an evolutionary impact via reduced health impacts. If those parasites carry debilitating diseases that impact might be very pronounced; those with greater parasite loads could find their numbers decimated by something the thin furred variants are barely affected by.

    Perhaps the innate multifunctional nature of life's building blocks makes our traits seem more like adaptations than they are; whatever we end up with in evolution's card shuffling still ends up being useful for something and hair could be a case of that but we are (at least through childhood) universally furless and that means that for whatever reason the furry forms failed to cut it.

    * edited. I wrote these the wrong way about and I've done some other editing for clarity.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  52. #51  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,847
    Quote Originally Posted by fabos
    It seems to me that getting from a terrestrial hominid ancestor to homo sapiens via a semi-aquatic intermediary would involve a more rapid rate of evolution with more intermediary forms than having our traits evolve more directly.
    There's plenty of time - what is difficult to find is adequate evolutionary pressure for several major human idiosyncracies.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fabos
    I've tended to focus on body hair - just one of the traits AAH tries to explain - and can't see any reason that this would require an aquatic lifestyle to evolve.
    And many people agree, including many who find an amphibious transition stage otherwise one of the better proposed explanations of several other characteristics.

    The initial, informal and loose advancing of the Aquatic Ape speculation featured its employment in explaining dozens of human characteristics. None of them individually are necessary for establishing the likelihood overall, and hairlessness is one that many people find particularly dubious.

    Not only do many aquatic animals - including tropical amphibious ones, as these early hominids are supposed to have been - benefit from thick fur coats (on top of the fat layers), but humans never lost their hair - and maybe spent a million years out on dry land afterwards, where the evolutionary pressures toward regaining some of whatever they had lost in thickness and density would have been reasonably large. Couple that with the apparently great variability of hairiness among people, so that the trait seems to have been fairly recently acquired and not solidly established, and we have indication that human hairlessness explainers probably should look at more recent, dry land factors. Add to that the existence of such factors - the heat and long distance day travel pressures on a bipedal forager being the current front runner - and we don't need an aquatic influence of some unspecified kind for that comparatively superficial trait.

    So set that aside for the time being, and look at more fundamental and difficult traits: upright stance bipedalism, the bizarre esophageal and naso-pharyngeal setups, the structure and behavior of the circularity system, even the landscape and habitat preferences. These we do need explanations for - the ones we have otherwise, without the aquatic assumption, are not convincing at all.

    While we are considering them, we might also notice that the recent discoveries in hominid evolution - not known at the time of first AAH proposal - have tended to support its likelihood and undermine the first set of counterarguments. We now have evidence that bipedalism evolved in forest-dwelling pre-hominids, before the savannah transition, for example, which throws out most of the other explanations for that fundamental structural modification (not that they made much sense, anyway). Independently, we also have evidence for an early preference and flourishing of early hominids along shorelines and productive shallow water environments. When a fair amount of incoming and independent data, not already employed in formulation or already allowed for, unexpectedly supports a standing hypothesis, and none of it contradicts the hypothesis, we usually give more credence to that hypothesis - it starts to look interesting, even to the wary, no?
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •