Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

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The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
By David Shiffman, on September 9th, 2010
Science can often be complicated, which makes a simple explanation extremely appealing. Sometimes, these simple explanations are correct. Sometimes they are spectacularly wrong.
One of the most complicated areas of science is evolutionary biology. Describing the origin of current species is a lot like putting together an enormous puzzle when most of the pieces are missing. A simple explanation for an evolutionary problem would be very, very appealing. Some people believe they have found one for human evolution, and they call it the “Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”.

Though the origin of this idea can be traced to 1942, it first became popularized by a 1960 speech given by British marine biologist Alistair Hardy. It has since been the subject of several books by Elaine Morgan, the hypothesis’ main promoter.
The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis basically states that there are some holes in our current understanding of human evolution (specifically, some physical traits that humans have don’t make sense according to current theory), these traits are similar to those found in marine mammals, therefore humans had a recent aquatic ancestor (known as the “aquatic ape”). It’s certainly simple, but is it correct?
Some of these aquatic-linked human physical traits include: * Relative hairless-ness compared to other apes (while elephants, who had a recent aquatic ancestor, also have relatively little hair; whales also have relatively little hair) * The ability to hold our breath consciously (marine animals have this, most land animals don’t) * Webbing between our fingers * Nutritional requirements that require a seafood-heavy diet * There are many more- a thorough list can be found here
The proponents of fringe ideas always tend to have a persecution complex (i.e. all the other scientists are mean…...

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