Desmond Morris, author of "The Naked Ape" on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (7:18 Minutes)
"Perhaps it all started here on the open savanna, the traditional view, and it's only a guess, is that our
ancient ancestors left the cover of the forest and moved out onto the open plains in pursuit of large prey animals.
Once in open country they had to face a hot dry exposed environment. How did they adapt to it? Other animals that
have evolved in hot dry environments have evolved special survival mechanisms to reduce their water loss, surprisingly
we have none of these. We have to drink more then any other land mammal, we sweat more then any other mammal and
we die quickly if we overheat. We have dilute urine and moist dung. There five qualities contrast strongly with the
water economy of the typical savanna living animals. Truth is that we are not well adapted to savanna living..."
"It's thought that there might have been a vital intermediate stage, instead of coming out of the forest and straight
onto the open grasslands, the idea is that our remote ancestors went instead to the waters edge. There they went more
and more into the water, becoming what you might call an aquatic ape. New born babies, under careful supervision, can
swim without any training. Placed in a prone position in warm water, they show no signs of panic.
They keep their eyes wide open and automatically hold their breath."
"There are a number of other aquatic features of our species. We have an usually strong diving reflex that slows down
our heart beat when we put our face under water. Like other aquatic mammals but not like any other primate, we have a
layer of blubber beneath our skin. We have lost the long shaggy coat of other primates making us more streamlined in
the water. We have a unique nose shape that shields our nostrils when we dive below the surface. We have more flexible
spines then other apes, enabling us to swim more rapidly. We have partial webbing between our fingers and toes, again
unlike any other primate. And most people are surprised to learn that anatomical records reveal, even today, 7% of the
worlds population of Humans still have webbed toes, where a small piece of tissue connects the toes along their full length..."
Informative Overview of the Aquatic Ape Theory (5:10 Minutes)
"The hairs on humans, unlike other primates, all point down. They appear to follow the direction of water flowing
over the body... Another question that the Aquatic Ape Theory answers is why are we so fat? Of all the primates
we are certainly the fattest. Our babies are born chubby, unlike other primates, which are generally skinny.
Humans contain ten times as many fat cells that would be expected in an average mammal of the similar size.
Because we did not inherit these traits from primates, the only other alternative would be from hibernating
animals and aquatic animals. It is interesting that terrestrial animals tend to store their fat around their
organs, where as aquatic animals store their fat on the outside near their skin.
One of our best traits as humans is our ability to communicate verbally to each other. The reason we are able to
do this is because or larynx descended pass our esophagus and we can control our breathing... Chimpanzees are
mentally capable of speech, however they can not do this because of their inability to consciously control their
breath. Breathing in thru your mouth is more effective then breathing thru your nose. So by being able to come up
for a big gulp of air would be more efficient then trying to do this thru your nose. The conscious control of
breathing would have come from this behavior, then millions of years later enabled us to speak on land... 90% of
all life on earth evolved in the water. Our ancestors started walking upright on our hind legs becoming bipedal,
the hair on their bodies changed direction and they became naked. The larynx descended, they become fatter, they
forgot how to pant, their nostril started to point downward and they learned to speak. The Aquatic Ape Theory
explains how all these things could have happened." Bryan Vartanian
Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic ancestors
Elaine Morgan is a tenacious proponent of the Aquatic Ape Theory:
the idea that humans evolved from primate ancestors who dwelt in watery habitats.
Hear her spirited defense of the idea at Darwin's 200th birthday celebration, July 2009 at TED.COM (17:17 Minutes)
Why are we so different from the Chimpanzee? The geneticists keep on telling us how extraordinary
closely we are, hardly any genes of difference, very very closely related and yet when you look at the
Phenotype, there is a chimp, there is a man, there are astounding different, no resemblance at all...
I'm talking about ground based, nitty gritty, measurable physical differences. There, that one, is hairy
and walking on a four legs, that one is a naked biped. Why? If I'm a good Darwinist I got to believe that
there is a reason for that. If we changed so much, something must have happened. What happened? Now fifty
years ago that was a laughably simple question, everybody knew the answer, they knew what happened. The
ancestor of the apes stayed in the trees and our ancestors when out on to the plain, that explained
everything. We had to get up on out legs to peer over the tall grass or to chase after animals or to free
our hands for weapons and we got so overheated in the chase that we had to take off that fur coat and throw
it away. Everybody knew that, for generations, but in the nineties something began to unravel. The
paleontologist themselves looked more closely at the accompanying micro fauna that lived in the same time
and place has the Hominid did and they were not savanna species. And they looked at the herbivores and they
were not savanna herbivores. And then they were so clever, they found a way to analyze fossilized pollen.
Shock Horror, the fossilized pollen was not of savanna vegetation...
We are the only animal that walks on two legs, but you can say this, all the apes and all the monkeys are capable
of walking on two legs, if they want to, for a short time. There is only one circumstance in which they always,
all of them, walk on two legs and that is when they are wading thru water. Do you think that is significant?
Look at the fat layer, we have got, under our skin, a layer of fat, all over. Nothing in the least like that in
any other primate. Why should it be there? Well they do know that if you look at other aquatic mammals, the fat
that is in normal land animals is deposited inside the body wall, around the kidneys, and the intestines and so on,
has started to migrate to the outside and spread out in a layer inside the skin. In the whale it is complete, no fat
inside at all, all in blubber on the outside. We can not avoid the suspicion that, in our case, it started to happen.
We have got skin lined with these layer.
The question of why we can speak. We can speak and the Gorilla can not speak. Why? Nothing to do with his teeth,
or his tongue, or his lungs, or anything like that, purely to do with having conscious control of our breath.
You can not train a Gorilla to say "AH". The only critters that have conscious control of their breath are the
diving animals and the diving birds. It was absolutely a preconditioning for us being able to speak.
Discovery Channel Aquatic Ape Documentary - BBC 1998