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Thread: Semi-Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?

  1. #1 Semi-Aquatic Ape Hypothesis? 
    Time Lord
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    There have been a few AAH threads, about Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. I'll admit the way the theory is most often put forward is horribly un-scientific. Every little trait we humans have is suhepposedly "proof" that there "must have" been an aquatic stage.

    However, there are just a few traits that really stand out for me, which are hard to explain. Mostly it's just humanity's excessive reliance on eye sight. Not many mammals lack a sense of smell as badly as we do, nor have eyesight to compare with ours. Birds do, however.

    I'm imagining humans fishing by way of standing outside the water, looking down into it, and catching the fish or whatever else.... unaware. It would be quite similar to the situation a bird of prey encounters. The eagle sees a little rabbit on the ground. He's up in the air really high and probably the rabbit isn't looking for danger from that direction, so when the eagle catches him in its talons, the poor rabbit never even knew what had hit him.

    For a fish swimming in the water, an attack from outside the water is probably similarly unexpected. I'm just thinking if that's how proto-humans hunted for a while, then it would have caused our eyesight to have improved a lot (just like how eagles have great eyesight - and for the same reason.) And perhaps an indirect result of becoming more visual would be to improve our intelligence.


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  3. #2  
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    There's no need for an aquatic ape for the kind of thing you're talking about.

    I remember my kids fascination with an exhibit at our museum on the lifestyle of the Ngarrindjeri people of the Coorong and Murraylands. (Fascination means watching the 15 minute film every. single. time. we went there. Despite having seen it 10 or 15 times before, probably last week and the week or so before that. And then going, item by item, through the display and read aloud every. single. notice. explaining the exhibits.)

    But the important thing was how clearly it demonstrated the theory that prehistoric peoples often put in less time and effort into feeding themselves than we do. About four hours a day for most. In this particular case, people spent an hour or two in the morning standing at the edge of the beach wriggling their toes in the wet sand and gathering the shellfish. Easy to 'gather' lunch for twenty or more while standing and chatting in the sun with the waves washing your feet. Standing a couple of metres further out others could spear enough fish for a good barbecue for the evening meal.

    When the cold weather approached they'd just move twenty or fifty miles upriver, build some shelter to protect from wind and rain and live off freshwater fish and yabbies, as well as a few roots and other vegetables. Goannas or other reptiles, plenty of eggs, always birds or a wombat or small kangaroo for meat. Very much an ideal lifestyle. Not too hard. Always enough food, plenty of protein. No crop failures leading to famines.

    No need for an "aquatic" body. I see no reason why the human body as we know it - and recognise its similarities in our remoter chimp cousins, none of whom have ever shown an aquatic inclination - should not have allowed our ancestors of 400000 years ago or more to live much the same way as those in Australia did 40000 years ago.


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I hope this thread does not turn into another AAH thread. I want to address only the eyesight angle Kojax has introduced. Is our eyesight all that good compared with other mammals? I'm not conviced of your basic premise Kojax. Do you have any links to support that assertion. For once I'm insufficiently interested to go looking for them myself, but the point is fundamental to your speculation.
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    I forgot that bit.

    Off the top of my head, I'd say that everything I've read indicates that our eyesight is fair average quality for primates. No exceptional abilities, no noteworthy deficiencies.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Forum Sophomore anthrosciguy's Avatar
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    This is basically suggesting we should be shocked and amazed that we resemble our closest relatives in this feature, then saying that we require a strikingly different set of habits from them to explain this non-difference.
    "Jim Moore's Aquatic Ape page is the definitive web resource for dissecting this fringe theory" - P.Z. Myers (Pharyngula), U of Minnesota biologist

    "Jim Moore has already done a fantastic job dismantling the various problems with the AAH" -- Brian Switek (science writer and author of the science blog "Laelaps")

    "http://www.aquaticape.org It’s the equivalent of the talk.origins FAQ for AAT." John Hawks, U of Wisconsin—Madison anthropologist
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    I hope this thread does not turn into another AAH thread. I want to address only the eyesight angle Kojax has introduced. Is our eyesight all that good compared with other mammals? I'm not conviced of your basic premise Kojax. Do you have any links to support that assertion. For once I'm insufficiently interested to go looking for them myself, but the point is fundamental to your speculation.
    Well, so far what I can find is this paper discussing how it is that primates are exceptional for their color vision. But that's nearly all old world primates. The reason/hypothesis posited is that it allowed them to more easily pick out red, yellow... etc fruits from the green background of foliage.

    Trichromatic Color Vision in Primates

    This article goes into primates having 3d/Stereoscopic vision, but again, it appears all primates share in having it.

    Snake-Spotting Theory Brings Primate Vision into Focus | Surprising Science


    It might be better if I posed the question as one of how much we humans rely on eyesight. Clearly our brain's ability to process images after the eyes have received them, and then imagine images as yet unseen is better because we're the only ones that evolved the ability to create artistic representations of things we had seen. Our sense of the 3D has to be better. Whether that's due to the quality of the image itself, or to what the brain does with it afterward is an interesting question.
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    For a fish swimming in the water, an attack from outside the water is probably similarly unexpected.
    Actually in clear waters, fish are quite sensative to attacks from above because of bird predation (stocks, osprey, kingfishers etc.). One of the first lessons in flyfishing was staying out of a trout's field of vision--which often means crouching along a bank edges and learning to site fish by their secondary signs (e.g a flash, or subtle rise of a pressure wave off the back of a swiming fish near the surface, or the patterned jumps of smaller fish escaping from something below etc). While I used to occasionally catch a fish in my hands while wading--it demands nearly perfect stillness and waiting for the right opportunities. There were exceptions. I used spear flounder for example while walking slow on the Texas mud flats; they were easy targets who wouldn't flee until I was right on top of them.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; October 13th, 2012 at 06:08 PM.
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    Forum Bachelors Degree CEngelbrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    There have been a few AAH threads, about Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. I'lladmit the way the theory is most often put forward is horribly un-scientific. Every little trait we humans have is suhepposedly "proof" that there "must have" been an aquatic stage.
    I'm sorry, have to rant.

    I think that's mainly because most people putting the idea forward are grossly distorting it. Either in one direction or the other. On one side of the fence you got infantiles fondling themselves with cheap laughs about sea apes and Aquaman, and on the other side people babble about AAH being evidence for the existence of mermaids and how humans descend from dolphins. Recently, I saw some moron actually claiming a connection between AAH and Sasquatch (I swear), mainly because the critter had a bossom and was always seen along creeks (I swear!)!

    I've been on and off the debate about splash-splash apes in human evolution (or often lack of one) for some fifteeen years now. And I have to say I feel quite frankly betrayed by my own species. I'm not talking about sound skepticism or thinking outside the box, but every time somebody stumples onto something serious that may or may not redefine our understanding about ourselves and drag us a tiny step further out of Plato's cave, we stampede straight into collective hysteria.

    To the best of my knowledge, the semi-aquatic version of AAH has always been it since both Alister Hardy and Elaine Morgan, and certainly with Marc Verhaegen and Algis Kuliukas. Hell, maybe Hardy and Morgan has ventured into speculations about how aquatic we have been, but most sound proponents talking about the concept's current stance (including Morgan) takes it no further than the beach. Even Hardy used the term 'coastal' in his 1960 article.

    But do people hear that? Do people hear the rational version? No, most people much rather just jam the entire thing up against a brick wall, to either mock it or take a pipe into outer space.

    I'm still angry at this site, that not long ago reacted to a thread that went out of control, because Kuliukas popped by to post on it, and because Kuliukas is currently the favorite target of the Internet hecklers, a lot of them migrated with him to TSF and continued their "fun" here. For some bizarre reason, the TSF moderators chose to move the entire thread from the subforum 'Biology' to one with the disparaging title 'Pseudoscience'. No consideration what so ever that when looking at the thread in question, all the negative posting came from aquatic oponents, and all the reasonable ones came from aquatic proponents. In short, they caved in to mob rule. Because the whole idea of water and human evolution is just pseudoscience for all eternity, basta!

    Don't expect anything better this time around. That level of human stupidity can't be fought. Even with the best of intentions, those are the kind of trends in human psychology which would've kept contemporary science still saying stuff like 'we were created in the image of God', instead of 'we are the peak of evolution', which they more or less say now. Which is probably just as wrong.
    Last edited by CEngelbrecht; October 30th, 2012 at 04:39 AM.
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