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Thread: Aquatic Ape Theory

  1. #1 Aquatic Ape Theory 
    Forum Sophomore BioHazard's Avatar
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    This Theory States that our Ancestors depended mostly on Nearby Water (Sea,Lake &/or River) for survival. That means that the Ape, whch was once our ancestor was Amphibious or atleast Semi-Aquatic.

    When I first Heard of this theory it actually made a lot of sense because First, Humans, as compared to other apes have a strong connection to water in all it's forms, we psychologically feel more comfortable when we shower, take a bath or even rinse our face with a splash of cold water.

    And Second, The Evidence for the AAT (Aquatic Ape Theory) are there Including:
    1.Our fingers are a webbed a little especially between the index and Thumb and 9% of school children have webbed feet or partially webbed feet, that is perhaps our left heritage of what was before.
    2. Children become adept swimmers and divers at a young age
    3. Less Hair, which means Faster Swimming and the Pattern of Hair Growth show streamlining
    4. We Have a breathing Control Mechanisim that no other ape has, but most semi-aquatic animals do
    5. AAT could provide an explanation for the Nose, making the breathing openings right-angled rather than flat on the face would decrease the amount of water going in. Plus several cases of Humans show that they can lift their upper lip to shut the breathing openings while swimming, which explains the downward scoop in the upperlip which meets perfectly with the skin barrier between the two breathing openings.

    There are many more Evidence to suggest the AAT from Fat Storage to Mating Positions Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_ape_theory

    What are your Thoughts?


    "When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot - the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of the immortal soul" Desmond Morris
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i must admit to having some sympathy for this theory, but on reflection i must also admit that many of the arguments are either rather woolly or very hard to prove one way or another

    it is interesting though that Australopithecus afarensis was found not far from the Danakil depression, which featuers in some of the versions of the aquatic ape hyptohesis


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    First, Humans, as compared to other apes have a strong connection to water in all it's forms, we psychologically feel more comfortable when we shower, take a bath or even rinse our face with a splash of cold water.
    Actually, human use of water for cleaning the body is largely a result of societal developments, and pretty recent ones at that. That form of hygiene is not as old as you may think.

    Likewise, the swimming skills of adults are quite modern techniqual advances, not to be compared with the rudimentary doggy-style paddling of new-born children. Nevertheless, even the best human swimmers look clumsy in the water when compared to animals that are adapted to aquatic life. No question, though, that besides humans, many other non-aquatic animals also enjoy water, e.g. certain cats, dogs, and even monkeys. That's nothing extraordinary.

    To have a nose adapted to aquatic life it would be closable, like that of any aquatic mammal I can think of (whale, seal, sea otter).

    Nevertheless, there is no question that humans, as all other animals, depend on water, and are descendants of some aquatic life form if you look back far enough.
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    Those other animals who have Closable Breathing Openings are Aquatic Animals, Where as the Ape was a Semi-Aquatic. Also Those other Animals Had considerable Time to Adapt and ultimatly Evolve them Being Fully Aquatic.

    Also comes this Question that why are many of our features differ SO much than other apes, Our Kidney's Morphology for Example and the Orthodox Breathing system that only existed and still exist in Aquatic Forms. We Still may not know fully how evolution specifically went on and under which circumstances those features came into existance, but collectively this theory explains all the features with one nice package that logically makes sense during the Heat-wave in the Pilocene-Pleistocene period.

    But I agree that the current argument is futile and may even seem childish, but there is something strangely appealing in the image of our ancestors swimming Elegantly in a lake rather than sitting in dark caves fighting over females and Food. I know I Know as scientists we don't have the Privilege of believing things with no conclusive evidence. But wait, skeptics , evidence will surface and then you will kiss my ring (INSERT: Diabolical Laughter)
    "When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot - the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of the immortal soul" Desmond Morris
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    I've heard of this theory a long time ago already but never studied it in detail. In addition to the "evidence" you're mentioning I also remember something about the structure of the knee that would fit in with having developed in an aquatic environment.

    All in all I guess I'm a half hearted supporter of the theory, but I'm very unclear about how the use of tools and even fire etc would have developed in an aquatic environment, as compared to a grassy plains environment.
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    The use of tools and the discovery of fire would most probably have taken place after we became more adapted to the land.
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    Yeah, you're probably right.

    So what do you think of the theory then?
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    From the firstfruits of my thoughts after dwelving into the theory of evolution, I believed that most, if not all creatures have ancestors who were aquatic. That including humans. Why else would we need water? According to this website our muscle, fat and bones are each made up of 50% or more water. Water was most definitely a large part of our ancestor's lifes. Water is also a good soup, somewhat like a primoridial soup, except without the intense heat. A good gathering pot for chemicals to float around.

    We are like a whale. It can survive outside of it's habitat for an elongated period of time. This is as long as it is continualy soaked with water. However, we are able to go much longer without water going into our body. But, we can die if we do not allow our body the amount of water necessary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanobrain
    From the firstfruits of my thoughts after dwelving into the theory of evolution, I believed that most, if not all creatures have ancestors who were aquatic. That including humans. Why else would we need water? According to this website our muscle, fat and bones are each made up of 50% or more water. Water was most definitely a large part of our ancestor's lifes. Water is also a good soup, somewhat like a primoridial soup, except without the intense heat. A good gathering pot for chemicals to float around.

    We are like a whale. It can survive outside of it's habitat for an elongated period of time. This is as long as it is continualy soaked with water. However, we are able to go much longer without water going into our body. But, we can die if we do not allow our body the amount of water necessary.
    2 thoughts on the subject :

    1. you seem to refer to a watery ancestor well before the 5-10 mya window of the aquatic hypothesis
    2. our so-called adaptations for water are not of the same order as a whale's
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    NanoBrain your talking about the need for water consumption, most living cells are composed of 70% Water or H2O to be more precise.

    AAT states that we actually lived Near a Lake or Beach and consumed its resources.

    Meaning that the ProtoHuman still lived on Land and slept on land, but depended heavely on the Lake or Sea as a safe Haven and a food Resource.

    Again I Realise that the Theory isnt Proven, But Technically Even Evolution isnt FULLY proven Yet. Don't get me wrong and start calling me a creationist, I'm stating a point here.

    BUT...

    WHY WOULD WE HAVE A KIDNEY AND A BREATHING CONTROL SYSTEM THAT ONLY AQUATIC ANIMALS POSSESS, PLEASE DONT TELL ME AGAIN THAT WE NEED WATER CONSUMPTION, MOST LIVING THINGS DO. I'M TALKING ABOUT A MORPHOLOGY THAT FULLY SUPPORTS SEMI-AQUATIC STATUS.
    "When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot - the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of the immortal soul" Desmond Morris
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    Still, our cells are bathed in ICF which is of a similar concentration to the sea.
    This isnt evidence that we (humans) came from the sea, this is evidence that ALL organisms came from the sea, or indeed still reside there! Life originated in the sea, then there were mosses and eventually animals and humans (although evolution hasnt been proven!)[/i]
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    I agree that we came from the sea, but lets go into specifics, there was one Ape Population, then it split into four Groups; Gorillas, Two Chimps and Humans. Why Dont the other three have Kidney structure and breathing control systems similar to aquatic animals. Plus we have this oily substance that we produce all over our body to protect us a bit from long term water contact, and guess what, the other three apes dont have it.
    "When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot - the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of the immortal soul" Desmond Morris
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    an interesting item from Elaine Morgan's The scars of evolution :

    it seems that all african monkeys and apes contain the leftovers from a type C retroviral attack in their genome, whilst asian monkeys and apes don't - it would appear that this infection comes from a virus that is endogenous to baboons and is no longer infectious in its current form

    now the interesting bit is that the human genome appears not to contain this type C viral leftover, and hence it would appear that during the time the baboon virus was infectious humans did not live in areas inhabited by baboons, i.e. the african mainland

    Elaine Morgan's theory is that the human ancestor was marooned in the Danakil Alps through flooding of the Danakil Depression by the Red Sea and hence isolated from the area where the infection was spreading amongst other african apes and monkeys

    does anyone know whether there's any truth in the baboon virus C story ? if it is then it definitely raises an issue worth investigating
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    now the interesting bit is that the human genome appears not to contain this type C viral leftover, and hence it would appear that during the time the baboon virus was infectious humans did not live in areas inhabited by baboons, i.e. the african mainland
    Or they did but didnt survive.
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    the point being that the ones that did survive were never infected, even though all other african monkeys or apes were
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    What are your Thoughts?
    For the past ten years, I've been looking at the evidence given for the aquatic ape theory to determine whether it's accurate, honest, and makes sense in terms of evolutionary theory. Sadly, it fails badly.

    I've been doing this checking for 10 years now and have had a version of my site up since 1996. My site has been used as a reference by The Straight Dope (22 Jan 2002) and The Fortean Times (Oct 2003), as well as the Talk Origins Archive and several college courses; I've also recently written an entry on it for the Sage Encyclopedia of Anthropology. The site is www.aquaticape.org.

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    And Second, The Evidence for the AAT (Aquatic Ape Theory) are there Including:
    1.Our fingers are a webbed a little especially between the index and Thumb and 9% of school children have webbed feet or partially webbed feet, that is perhaps our left heritage of what was before.
    Seen in other primates, such as siamangs and gorillas.

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    2. Children become adept swimmers and divers at a young age
    If taught, yes, they can. That most children don't swim naturally can be seen in drownings. This statement is usually at its source something that grew out of a very biased reading of a 1939 research paper on the infant "swimming" reaction, which was found in every mammal tested at that time (opossum, rat, kitten, rabbit, guinea pig, and rhesus monkey). And from my site: AAT/H proponents consistently report only the info about human infants, and state that they react in a unique manner, ignoring the contrary facts the study reports regarding non-human infants, even though the info about both human and non-human infants is reported on the same page. Coincidence?

    Note that an older chimpanzee was also tested and, just like older human infants, was inactive when placed in the water. Note too that this study found that "at no time did any baby show himself capable of raising his head above the water level for the purpose of breathing".

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    3. Less Hair, which means Faster Swimming and the Pattern of Hair Growth show streamlining
    There are a number of things wrong with this claim. One is that hair patterns vary a lot between people (and in fact show unmistakable signs of classic sexual selection, like fat and sebaceous glands, two other obviously sexually selected traits which AAT/H proponents claim are due to environment instead). For one, if the hair patterns we have were due to hydrodynamics, we would have to be swimming, fast, with the crown of the head facing forward (not looking where we're going), and the arms held motionless by our sides. This is far from an effective swimming position, to say the least. In addition, you have to ignore the fact that many humans have curly, decidely non-hydrodynamic body hair. You have to ignore that even the fastest human swimmers, Olympic swimmers in sprint events, are horrifically slow swimmers compared to any aquatic animals, which is a problem when you get to predators (land-based predators were handled, no doubt, just as chimps do, through intimidation rather than fleeing most of the time). And in fact when swimmers do compete, they do one of two things regarding our hair patterns -- they shave off what they have or they cover it with body suits that mimic dermal ridges or furry aquatic forms; the one thing they don't do is go with what we have. Why would that be, if what we have is due to streamlining, honed by millions of years of evolution.

    So if you are willing to ignore an uncortably large number of facts, make that statement; otherwise, it simply doesn't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    4. We Have a breathing Control Mechanisim that no other ape has, but most semi-aquatic animals do
    This is referring to conscious control of breathing, and is partially true. That is, we do have a great degree of conscious control over our breathing as a side benefit of bipedalism, which took away the need for our forelimbs to be used for locomotion and therefore freed up the muscles of the diaphram. However, it isn't clear just how much more conscious breathing control aquatic mammals have compared to terrestrial mammals, and it's made less clear by facts such as that marine mammals such as whales and seals actually expel the air from their lungs for most dives and store oxygen in their specialised blood instead -- this keeps them from getting the bends and is a system which is radically different from terrestrial mammals. Another uncomfortable fact regarding breath control is that not only can terrestrial mammals such as dogs hold their breath, untrained dogs can do so longer, on average, than untrained humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    5. AAT could provide an explanation for the Nose, making the breathing openings right-angled rather than flat on the face would decrease the amount of water going in. Plus several cases of Humans show that they can lift their upper lip to shut the breathing openings while swimming, which explains the downward scoop in the upperlip which meets perfectly with the skin barrier between the two breathing openings.
    The upper lip thing has been rightly laughed out of the park -- a rare condition presented as a general adaptation. The shape of the nose argument might make some sense if it mattered, but since we see that other primates, such as macaques, swim and dive perfectly well without such an adaptation, and since we know that the present human nose is due to the change in the face about 1.5-2 mya (it can be seen in growth patterns in the skulls) it seems unlikely, plus that period is after the so-called "aqautic" period generally used in the AAT/H. (Some AAT/H proponents claim the aquatic period was the entire span of human evolution, ignoring the many hominids found outside potential "AAT/H" environs.)

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    There are many more Evidence to suggest the AAT from Fat Storage to Mating Positions Check
    The mating positions argument is bogus as well -- face to face matting is done by a variety of mammals, including, at times, primates such as orangs, black-handed spider monkeys, and occasionally in woolly spider monkeys and gorillas. It seems to be done by aquatic mammals only when other positions are physically impossible.

    On human fat, we see clearly that it's radically different from aquatic mammals -- in those animals we see their fat characteristics don't vary much between the sexes and are set very early, as soon as the animal starts swimming, while in humans we see classic sexual selection, with radical differences between the sexes which change right at puberty. We also see re amount of fat that humans fit the well-supported hypothesis that predation pressure keeps fat levels low in animals. This is because fat is great for extra food supply in lean times but limits mobility, so animals which have more predation pressure can't get too fat unless the need for fat is paramount (like in hiberbators). Animals which live in relatively predator-free areas typically get fatter than their relatives, and humans have, at least since the development of fire control and "advanced" weapons like spears (about 1 million years ago) have had relatively little predation pressure.

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    Those other animals who have Closable Breathing Openings are Aquatic Animals, Where as the Ape was a Semi-Aquatic. Also Those other Animals Had considerable Time to Adapt and ultimatly Evolve them Being Fully Aquatic.

    Also comes this Question that why are many of our features differ SO much than other apes, Our Kidney's Morphology for Example and the Orthodox Breathing system that only existed and still exist in Aquatic Forms. We Still may not know fully how evolution specifically went on and under which circumstances those features came into existance, but collectively this theory explains all the features with one nice package that logically makes sense during the Heat-wave in the Pilocene-Pleistocene period.
    Our kidneys are not like those of aquatic mammals. Compare our kidneys lobes and number of glomeruli per kidney (which determine how concentrated a mix mammalian kidneys can put out) -- there are 5-6 times (or more) lobes in whale's kidneys versus terrestrial, non-desert, mammals such as humans, and many times more number of glomeruli per kidney. The claim that human kidneys are like those of aqautic mammals is often made by AAT/H proponents but is simply false (it should be noted that those some at least of those proponents continue to make the claim even though its falseness has been pointed out to them, which should make you leery of accepting their claims).

    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    I agree that we came from the sea, but lets go into specifics, there was one Ape Population, then it split into four Groups; Gorillas, Two Chimps and Humans. Why Dont the other three have Kidney structure and breathing control systems similar to aquatic animals. Plus we have this oily substance that we produce all over our body to protect us a bit from long term water contact, and guess what, the other three apes dont have it.
    Again, simply false. This (the kidney and breathing claims have been taken care of already) is referring to sebaceous glands, which are found, of course, in all apes, all primates, humans, and of course almost all mammals. The primary purpose of sebaceous glands is producing scent, and in humans as in most mammals shows classic signs of a sexually selected feature: more in males than females, females having better scent receptors, evidence that humans actually do react emotionally to these scents, and the scent glands starting up in earnest exactly at puberty. In contrast, sebaceous glands are not found over most of the body of whales -- seals have them and here they can help with waterproofing since seals have a skin surface which is radically different from human skin.

    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    an interesting item from Elaine Morgan's The scars of evolution :

    it seems that all african monkeys and apes contain the leftovers from a type C retroviral attack in their genome, whilst asian monkeys and apes don't - it would appear that this infection comes from a virus that is endogenous to baboons and is no longer infectious in its current form

    now the interesting bit is that the human genome appears not to contain this type C viral leftover, and hence it would appear that during the time the baboon virus was infectious humans did not live in areas inhabited by baboons, i.e. the african mainland

    Elaine Morgan's theory is that the human ancestor was marooned in the Danakil Alps through flooding of the Danakil Depression by the Red Sea and hence isolated from the area where the infection was spreading amongst other african apes and monkeys

    does anyone know whether there's any truth in the baboon virus C story ? if it is then it definitely raises an issue worth investigating
    I haven't written up the Type C retrovirus business since Morgan and her followers don't bring it up any more, but it's one of those zombie "facts" that just won't die no matter how often it's shown to be false. So let me post what I've written up so far on the subject:

    This was tied to Morgan's use of Danakil Island; she was looking for something that said our ancestors were not in Africa when all the known fossils were, and the "baboon marker gene" came along just at the right time.

    What this marker supposedly showed was that all African primates had a marker gene showing they'd been exposed to a virus that had coursed through the African baboon population millions of years ago. All but humans. This meant (again, supposedly) that humans' ancestors had not been in Africa at that crucial period of their evolution. The original authors of the study said that meant humans' ancestors had actually come from Asia, while Morgan seized on this to say they'd been trapped on that off-shore island -- swimming, diving, evolving features like seals, otters, and whales; but somehow unable to swim to the mainland miles away.

    The mid 1970s had been the time of molecular data's rise as evidence in evolution. The baboon marker gene idea first came out in 1974 conflicted with all known fossil data, comparative anatomy data, and virtually all other molecular data, blood data, etc. At the time this created a lot of debate over this idea. Now there isn't any. Why? Perhaps that Great Paleoanthropological Conspiracy that keeps out heretic ideas from the pristine Ivory Tower?

    Well, no. Since the baboon marker idea did conflict with all known fossil, comparative anatomy, and virtually all other molecular and blood data, that should make you wonder what's up, and it did for paleoanthropologists at the time. Fortunately, you don't have to wonder too long to see what the problem was.

    There was, in the professional anthropological literature, a deal of discussion about this finding when it first came out in 1974 and subsequent years, and there's a very good reason it hasn't been taken as evidence of hominids not being on mainland Africa at the time the baboon virus arose. That is that the researchers who did the work originally did find that humans do carry a marker for the p30 protein of the virus in question, showing that they had indeed been exposed to it (this was also confirmed by other papers on the subject by various researchers). One of the researchers in particular (Todaro) drew the unwarranted conclusion that hominids had not been in Africa at that time -- by ignoring that part of his own findings, which really is rather foolish. Elaine Morgan and later other AAT/H proponents then committed the same error.

    In addition, the relative expression of this gene shows a pretty direct correlation with how closely related the various African primates are to baboons, with humans and apes having the least and humans the least of all; this strongly suggests that the expression of the gene is changed over genetic distance, which is what one might expect. There's also the issue of reexposure; humans during later evolution didn't all live in Africa (as other African primates did) and so the overall population might well be expected to show less reexposure to the virus; this would also aid in lessening the expression of the gene, and would also help produce the results we see.

    In the sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup on 15 Nov 1994 Philip Bigelow explains what this means:

    "That humans, themselves, show exposure to the baboon type-C virus, although in a very small way, and that the RELATIVE degree of expression of this genetic marker follows the evolutionary family tree of primates all the way up to humans; humans have least expression of the marker (although they have some) and chimps and gorillas have more expression of the marker, and the monkeys and baboon has the greatest expression of the marker: This is exactly what would be expected from a dimmunition of the expression of the gene as one goes up the primate family tree."

    And more directly to the point vis a vis the AAT/H (Philip Bigelow in sci.anthropology.paleo again on 15 Nov 1994):

    "All it takes to disprove Morgan's evidence in this case is AT LEAST SOME genetic marker in humans against this baboon C virus. The authors showed that some exposure MUST have occurred in humans in the distant prehistoric past."

    That humans were exposed to this virus is also shown by the fact that only some few Africa-descended cats also bear this marker, and those that do are precisely those cats which had the most contact with humans over the years (ie., the domestic cat and some of its wild relatives, the European wildcat and the small African cats found in the Mediterranean region -- cats, during domestication, had a deal of contact with their wild relatives in Europe, Africa, and far West Asia). Since these are the only cats with that marker, it is virtually certain that they got it through contact with humans, and that adds more evidence (besides the p30 protein) that hominids were exposed to the virus. The "baboon marker gene" is not an indicator of hominids not being in mainland Africa during the period the baboon virus arose.

    Since the information about the p30 gene and the cats was available in the sources Morgan used to make her case does show she did a poor job of research on this issue, apparently just grasping at the straw offered by a poorly thought out conclusion without really thinking at all about the data. Mind you, I think Todaro should've done a better job in formulating his conclusion (since it didn't actually follow from his data) but Morgan was remiss in not looking at the data before grabbing a conclusion she liked the sound of. As Philip Bigelow said, she used a conclusion as a "fact", when a conclusion is an interpretation and should not be used as if it were a fact; what she needed to use were the facts in the paper (such as the info on the p30 gene and the cats) which in fact did not support her position. We've seen this in other AAT/H mistakes, using the logical fallacy called Irrelevant Conclusion (ignoratio elenchi), which Stephen's Guide to the Logical Fallacies defines as: An argument which purports to prove one thing instead proves a different conclusion.

    Now an equally interesting question is why BioHazard randomly capitalises words as if he were writing 200 years ago? Join the 19th century already!
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthrosciguy
    I haven't written up the Type C retrovirus business since Morgan and her followers don't bring it up any more, but it's one of those zombie "facts" that just won't die no matter how often it's shown to be false.
    glad that's been sorted - i brought it up because if true this would have been one of the few verifiable facts that might be testable (most of the other evidence doesn't fossilise and hence could have happened anywhere between 10,000,000 and 100,000 years ago), but i wasn't sure whether it was fact or factoid

    the most recent reference of the virus i'm aware of came from a book "The Aquatic Ape : Fact or Fiction ?" published by Souvenir Press in 1991 on a conference held in Valkenburg, the Netherlands in 1987

    presumably it must have become apparent that the virus "fact" was hollow at some time after 1991
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    Forum Sophomore BioHazard's Avatar
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    anthrosciguy, I wave the white flag...
    You are Right. I renounce the Idea of AAT/H, I still have my doubts, now I'll think of it as a far-fletched possibility.
    "When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot - the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of the immortal soul" Desmond Morris
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    Forum Sophomore anthrosciguy's Avatar
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    [quote="marnixR"]
    Quote Originally Posted by anthrosciguy
    the most recent reference of the virus i'm aware of came from a book "The Aquatic Ape : Fact or Fiction ?" published by Souvenir Press in 1991 on a conference held in Valkenburg, the Netherlands in 1987

    presumably it must have become apparent that the virus "fact" was hollow at some time after 1991
    Actually this was yet another of those AAT/H claims that was obviously not correct when it was first made. The "baboon marker" stuff was knocked down and out by the late 1970s, and since the evidence that it was wrong actually appeared in the original 1974 paper this makes sense. Morgan was still trying to use the claim in 1996 in newsgroups.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i just thought of some way to estimate the timing of the loss of body hair in human beings : has anyone yet measured the genetic divergence between head lice and pubic lice ? presumably these would have been the same species until hair loss on the body separated the two populations

    if this assumption is correct then it should be possible to estimate the timing of the split (and hence of humans losing their body hair) using the molecular clock on the DNA of the lice
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i just thought of some way to estimate the timing of the loss of body hair in human beings : has anyone yet measured the genetic divergence between head lice and pubic lice ? presumably these would have been the same species until hair loss on the body separated the two populations

    if this assumption is correct then it should be possible to estimate the timing of the split (and hence of humans losing their body hair) using the molecular clock on the DNA of the lice
    This was what the work done by Stoneking et al. did a few years back, although the margin of error was pretty big, and I don't know if this has been taken further. Here's a link for a news story on that. Seems to be about 50,000-100,000 -- pretty recent.
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    i'm not too worried about the margin of error, a ballpark figure that places it fairly recent is good enough for me - if hair loss happened within the last half million year, that excludes the need to explain hair loss in terms of something that happened more than 5 million years ago

    btw you forgot to enter the url in your link ?
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    hm, not as clearcut as i had hoped for - the development of the body louse may only be related to the habit of wearing clothes, which may or may not be coincident with body hair loss
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    hm, not as clearcut as i had hoped for - the development of the body louse may only be related to the habit of wearing clothes, which may or may not be coincident with body hair loss
    I think what they're getting at is that the body hair changes were likely at the root of the divergence between body and head lice (which makes sense) and the idea that this is related to wearing clothes is a speculation. A speculation which sounds likely enough, but is still a speculation without strong evidence.

    So -- keeping in mind the margin of error of when it happened is large -- the ideas in order of evidence are:

    1. body and head lice diverge between 50,000-100,000 years ago -- pretty good evidence

    2. Number 1 due to body hair change at that time -- pretty strong speculation

    3. Number 2 due to advent of clothing (presumably more overall-covering clothing) -- much weaker but sensible sounding speculation

    A problem that crops up in news stories about science -- and often enough in the press releases and even papers that inspire those news stories -- is taking a conclusion as a fact. They aren't the same thing, although some conclusions can, with enough evidence, become accepted as facts. In this case, the story suggests too strongly that the last (and weakest) conclusion is a fact. You have to keep this in mind when you read science news.
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    i see 2 possible scenarios :

    1. body lice initially inhabited the body hair and with the disappearance of the latter found a safe haven in clothing

    2. head lice had retreated with the loss of body hair, only for a subpopulation of them to re-invade lost territory with the advent of clothing

    i have no way of deciding which of the 2 scenarios is more likely
    as you'll notice, only the first one links the DNA divergence date with the timing of lost body hair

    that's why i would have been happier if a similar comparison had been made between head lice and pubic lice, who each must have retreated to their relic areas on the loss of body hair
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    that's why i would have been happier if a similar comparison had been made between head lice and pubic lice, who each must have retreated to their relic areas on the loss of body hair
    Pubic lice (crab lice) are apparently not a variant of head lice (as body lice are); they seem to have been picked up from gorillas over 3 million years ago. There was some news about this recently ( link here for instance). Hanky-panky not likely; probably from other close encounters, like sleeping in gorilla beds.
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    thanks - i suppose that clears that one up

    (hanky-panky with gorillas, doesn't bear thinking about !)
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    I only heared about this AAH about a week ago did a google search and found what I think is a very funny description of the aquatic ape theory
    "Just when you think Evolutionists couldn't be any more confused about the origins of Humanity, they go and prove you wrong. According to the Evolutionist's Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT,) we all came from apes that lived underwater, much like the Sea-Monkeys seen in the back of old Archie comic books. From what I can piece together from the incoherent Evolutionist literature, the Aquatic Ape story goes like this: Billions of years ago a bunch of monkeys lived under the sea. Then one day, one of them gave birth to a human baby. Soon after, all the sea-monkeys began giving birth to human babies. Eventually, there were only humans living under the sea. Then the sea-humans decided to live on the land, so they did just that. Many years latter, one of these now land-living sea-humans gave birth to a baby who was named Charles Darwin. And they lived happily ever after."
    it was from a creationist site so now we can all rest in peace there never was an Aquatic Ape its all just made up by some nutty Evolutionist
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    anthrosciguy, I wave the white flag...
    I don't (wave the white flag
    ). Once I return to shore I shall return fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jolko
    "Just when you think Evolutionists couldn't be any more confused about the origins of Humanity, they go and prove you wrong. According to the Evolutionist's Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT,) we all came from apes that lived underwater, much like the Sea-Monkeys seen in the back of old Archie comic books. ...
    just when you think creationists couldn't become more confused about what evolution really stand for, here they go again totally misrepresenting what the AAT stands for - are they really this dense, or are they by now so used to distorting evolution's tenets that it comes as 2nd nature ?
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    About Creationists, have you heard about the bunch of Creationist Mueseums and Theme Parks that have been popping up all over America, they have all those stages where Adam and Eve are in a garden with a vegetarian T-Rex in the Background (No Really!), Shame really in the 21st Century.

    Now an equally interesting question is why BioHazard randomly capitalises words as if he were writing 200 years ago? Join the 19th century already!
    are the the random capital letters that annoying...I guess It's a Bad Habit
    "When man contemplates his future death, it is as if, by thinking of it, he renders it immediate. His defence is to deny it. He cannot deny that his body will die and rot - the evidence is too strong for that; so he solves the problem by the invention of the immortal soul" Desmond Morris
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    i suppose you're referring to something like this ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by jolko
    I only heared about this AAH about a week ago did a google search and found what I think is a very funny description of the aquatic ape theory
    [snipped]
    it was from a creationist site so now we can all rest in peace there never was an Aquatic Ape its all just made up by some nutty Evolutionist
    That's actually a parody site, like Landover Baptist but more subtle. I took a while to figure that out back when I first saw it; it snares a lot of people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazard
    are the the random capital letters that annoying...I guess It's a Bad Habit
    That's why there was a smiley after my sentence. I found the random capitalization odd, and it does make thing marginally harder to read since the eye tends to try to interpret capitalization as proper names or beginnings of sentences, but it's only a tiny bit harder. Mostly just odd.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    just when you think creationists couldn't become more confused about what evolution really stand for, here they go again totally misrepresenting what the AAT stands for - are they really this dense, or are they by now so used to distorting evolution's tenets that it comes as 2nd nature ?
    My dad recently told me about an article he wrote about parthenogenesis. He's an evolutionary biologist and most of his work is about sexual or asexual reproduction. Now appearently, a creationist radiostation found this article, and they completly misinterpreted it and twisted it to make it seem as if it were evidence for the creationist vision of things. Another example of their '2nd nature'
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    it wouldn't involve something like god taking a rib from adam to create eve as an example of parthenogenesis would it ? or is that too advanced ?
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    I have actually no idea what it was about, I'll ask next time I see him
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    back to the meat of this thread : forget auqatic origins, here's a theory of bipedality that has ring of plausibility about it : Our upright walking started in the trees
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    Hello everybody. First post. Great topic. Few comments.

    The AAT is actually a very important event in paleoanthropology. Does it make it a good theory? No, but it is one of the few times the thinking on our hominid origin has been done outside of the box, creationism not included. It allow for the exploration of different facts about human evolution, which in turned strengthened the savannah model. AAT was at least objective. And let's face it, the physical history of hominid evolution is paltry at best. It's not completely inconcievable that a new evidence will be presented that will turn paleoanthropology on it's head. Will it end up being swimming monkeys? Unlikely, but who knows for sure. Paleoanthropology is a young science in it's self, and utilizes even younger sciences like microbiology and modern genetics. Once more of our sequenced genome is understood, much of what we believe about human evolution is bound to change. Exiting, no?

    As far as Creationist misunderstanding scientific propositions on said topic, that's not really the case. It's misread on purpose in order to keep other creationists happy. Ken Ham, Kent Hovan, and others aren't misunderstanding anything, they're just looking for any conceivable way to spin evolution into something that will keep creationist attending their programs.

    Arboreal Bipedalism? I'm skeptical. That behavior observed in orangs seems to situational to facilitate a morphological change to the extent of bipedalism. 'Tangs are able to display a different mode of bipedal locomotion because they still rely on three point contact while in trees to balance. Not so for chimps who need to maintain a bent knee posture to balance while moving. I just don't see tree dwelling as the mechanism for bipedalism.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i just happen to like it because it's so counter-intuitive
    (+ A.afarensis was bipedal but at the same time still at home in the trees)
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i just happen to like it because it's so counter-intuitive
    (+ A.afarensis was bipedal but at the same time still at home in the trees)
    But curved fingers means climbing trees is easier, not that Lucy was living in one. A. afarensis and africanus both lived in mixed woodland and savannah, but most evidence supports a terrestrial lifestyle w/ tree nesting involved.

    Not that it isn't possible, but it's a big leap from "did you see what that orangutan did," to that's how bipedal hominids developed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocktologist
    Hello everybody. First post. Great topic. Few comments.

    The AAT is actually a very important event in paleoanthropology. Does it make it a good theory? No, but it is one of the few times the thinking on our hominid origin has been done outside of the box, creationism not included. It allow for the exploration of different facts about human evolution, which in turned strengthened the savannah model. AAT was at least objective.
    I'm afraid even this isn't true. It's something that gets said often enough, and one of Morgan's major thrusts for the past 35 years has been building up this myth. But it doesn't fit the facts of what happened in the field.

    As it happens I have some knowledge of what effect the AAT/H had on paleoanthropology and the things that did, because I was married to one of the women who actually did do that "out of the box" thinking on paleoanthro at that time. First, the AAT/H had virtually no effect on the field; the pros read the book(s) (my wife had it/them), saw it was full of holes and contradicted known facts, and stuck it back on the shelf. Meanwhile, the work of various people did change things -- esp. (cut and paste from my site on the subject)
    "Thelma Rowell and Jane Lancaster (and also in a great deal of the excellent work on Japanese macaques by many, mostly Japanese, researchers), and perhaps most directly by Sally Linton in a paper ("Woman the Gatherer") which drew on the work of Richard Lee among the !Kung. Linton's work provided much of the inspiration for the later influential work of Nancy Tanner and Adrienne Zihlman."
    The notion of "the savanna model" is problematic, since the actual theories don't use the environmental determinism the AAT/H does. Again, a cut and paste from my site:
    "AAT/H proponents seem not to understand this, as can be seen in the way they refer to mainstream paleoanthropological ideas as "savanna theory" or "terrestrial theory" or "mosaic theory". Contrast those terms to the actual theories used for many decades, even the discredited "killer ape", or others like the "hunting hypothesis", the "seed-eating hypothesis", the "gathering hypothesis", the "food-sharing hypothesis", or even hypotheses that deal with individual features such as the "radiator hypothesis". Note that most of these theories deal heavily with food, food-getting and sharing, and social interaction, and only tangentially with environment. Environment is mentioned, of course, and there's a big interest in figuring out what environment(s) we evolved in, and also of course any theory concerning human evolution must look at how we, as a species, managed to deal with a wider and wider variety of environments. It's one of the key differences between us and apes -- we did so much better at it; they managed only a few different environments, and not all that different when you compare to what we managed even through the time of Homo erectus. But the basic ideas generally concern behavior rather than environmental determinism, important since rather obviously it doesn't make sense to look for an environmentally deterministic solution to how an animal became more and more unconstrained by their environment. So, whether mistakenly or deliberately, AAT/H proponents build a strawman of normal paleoanthropological theory, and whenever normal paleoanthropological theorists mention environment, as they naturally do, AAT/H proponents typically assume they're using environmental determinism just as the AAT/H proponents themselves do.
    Lastly, I don't think you can really say an idea is "objective" when it was contradicted by the facts known at the time it was proposed, and in fact was often contradicted by facts in the same sources, sometimes the same page (!) that the idea's proponents used for "support".
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    It may be of some interest to you all H floresiensis is just begging to be called semi-aquatic. H floresiensis has some really big feet. They are very long, rather wide, and do not have any arch. The toes are human like. In one science paper the writer characterized H floresiensis as having clown feet! The folks looking at the feet bones all agree she was a slow walker, like a clown.

    H floresiensis has a wrist identical with H habilis, the earliest in the Homo genus. If you look at the two skulls together, you could see the strong similarity. Both hominins were found with various chip tools. Though they had very small brains, they could think.

    What the feet of H floresiensis is good for is water propulsion. They are built in flippers. This creature could fly through the water.

    No fossil feet have been found for H habilis, so we don't know if H floresiensis had special adaptations. It is my bet H habilis would have the same foot structure, and populated rivers, lakes and the sea shore. Over the millennia, Migration along the shores would lead them eventually to Indonesia.

    H habilis lived alongside H erectus. It is my belief, H habilis spawned waves of proto humans, finally getting it right with us.

    This water travel adaptation would also support nakedness. Non specialized fur is a real drag in the water, plus it would take an inordinate time to dry between dives.
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