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Aquatic Ape Theory

Chris Patil cpatil at itsa.ucsf.edu
Sat Mar 9 16:18:26 EST 1996

In article <4hhpfs$n34 at decaxp.harvard.edu> robison at nucleus.harvard.edu (Keith Robison) writes:
>Scott D. Kocher (skocher at itsmail1.hamilton.edu) wrote:
>:   Does anyone know about the Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT), which postulates
>: that man descended from the apes only after undergoing a period of marine
>: habitation?  The theory attempts to explain why humans have oily skin and
>: very few hairs, are bipedal, produce tears, breath through the nose, and
>: some other strange adaptations which are unusual for terrestrial mammals.
>:   I came across the AAT home page on the Web, and was curious to know how
>: legitimate this theory is for the rest of the scientific community.

One of the other selling points of AAT is that many pre-human fossils are 
found in areas that used to be swamps, favoring adaptations that 
facilitate short-distance swimming. Additionally, many pre-human forearms 
(radius and ulna) show evidence that the forearm musculature of our 
putative forebears (or close cousins) was truly formidable -- on a par 
with early twentieth-century males who slung coke in foundries for forty 
years of their lives. Since there are many reasons to believe that these 
hominids were not brachiators, the musculature might be explained by 
frequent swimming.

>I think the summary is that most professionals don't have a very positive
>opinion of AAT.

This seems to be the case. A human-origins paleontologist (whose name I 
forget) have a talk at UCSF recently, and although he talked at length 
about curiously muscled hominids dug up in an ancient swamp, he never 
once mentioned the possibility that our ancestors were semiaquatic.

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