Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
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30-05-2012, 04:19 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
I haven't looked into aquatic ape theory much and it is interesting. I felt they did really oversimplify both theories in the first artile (the one I looked at to get where the conversation was coming from). The most glaring issue I saw was during the omegas and iodine focus they discussed people in Korea and Indonesia. Places where fish have been a huge part of the local diet for 1000s of years. Yes the Inuit get pretty malnourished without whale blubber, but I don't know any Aboriginals who die due to the fact that there aren't enough whales in Australia. Not all humans live in areas where a high fish diet is doable, and many have little need for fish. These sorts of arguments where they discuss a need and mention a specific area. Even if you don't know that much about Korea and Indonesia you can at least hopefully realise they're both south asian countries. Why not discuss the Egyptian's horrible plagues due to the distance between them and salt water?

Beardy gave you a good abridgement of how yes being near the water was a big deal for humans, but no bi-pedalism is not something aquatic mammals tend towards. It's not a currently held belief that humans started in the sand, but they started near enough to the sand that group competitions obviously eventually lead portions that way.

The biggest alarm that sounded while I read the article was the discussion of how the aquatic ape theory is not about an agressive cruel humanity but a loving group that worked together in an equal fashion. Humans still show a tendency towards the same pack mentality that wolves have (the same pack mentality that exists in most every pack animal). To suggest that they started ut without this competitive aggressive nature raises huge questions to why it is the human norm. Competition has always been paramount for humanity. Not all humans enjoy competition but they all think in competitive terms. Without serious attempts to prevent it competition is just natural for humanity. Which is the main issue as far as our continual battle for equality. If ancient humans had a similar mentality to emperor penguins what made it change? Why did we later adapt the more agressive competitive individual based natures? (emperor penguins are pretty competitive but more of a group than many other examples also they fit the suggestion of diet and location outside of temperature. Oh and they have another cute feature humans admire monogamous tendencies =p)

I am interested in looking into it a bit, but the first link for me was the type of article that you just have to go I can't make an opinion off of this. Sorry I didn't read the second, but I'm a bit busy. The lack of satisfaction the first article gave made me a bit weary of the second, and Beardy made it sound better but not really convincing. I call it interesting but not monumentally important to focus on. Remains of humans are continuously found and the dates go back often enough. We change our views often due to the evidence that comes up. This is a nice theory to think about, but I don't currently know of a genus homo that fits this description and as Beardy pointed out the comon ancestor which was traced between the apes definitely wasn't. Nice to think about, but not yet overly compelling. Plenty of species have interesting features that you just don't see in other similar species, but that's just what makes them succesful.

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03-08-2012, 08:41 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
If human bipedalism was some semi-aquatic adaptation, it would be a result of humans adapting from tree-dwelling apes to wading apes. The interesting thing is that a lot of ape/monkey taxa make use of vertical bipedalism, when they move through water.

Wading gorilla:
[Image: Young-western-lowland-gorilla-wading-bip...stream.jpg]

Also: Wading bonobos

Vertical bipedalism in water is not the norm in aquatic mammals, but it seems to be the trend for at least some primate taxa when in water, and therefore it could be the origin for human bipedalism also on land. The reason for this could be that the original tree apes of human past (10-20 million years ago, eg. Proconsul and Dryopithecus) adapted their fore limbs to interact with the surroundings (grabbing, carrying, etc., somewhat like the trunk of the elephant), and then when adapting to a wet environment, this trait led these apes to employ a vertical stance on the hind limbs, because the preference of the fore limbs was to grab and carry.

So that something like this from before the split between eg. humans and chimps ...:
[Image: G3466_photo25.jpg]
... turned into something like this:
[Image: sashao.jpg]
Put very simplistic. I'm personally very enthusiastic about the aquatic notion, but it is only one suggestion on the origin of eg. human bipedalism or human loss of fur.
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03-08-2012, 09:01 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(03-08-2012 08:41 PM)CEngelbrecht Wrote:  If human bipedalism was some semi-aquatic adaptation, it would be a result of humans adapting from tree-dwelling apes to wading apes. The interesting thing is that a lot of ape/monkey taxa make use of vertical bipedalism, when they move through water.

Wading gorilla:
[Image: Young-western-lowland-gorilla-wading-bip...stream.jpg]

Also: Wading bonobos

Vertical bipedalism in water is not the norm in aquatic mammals, but it seems to be the trend for at least some primate taxa when in water, and therefore it could be the origin for human bipedalism also on land. The reason for this could be that the original tree apes of human past (10-20 million years ago, eg. Proconsul and Dryopithecus) adapted their fore limbs to interact with the surroundings (grabbing, carrying, etc., somewhat like the trunk of the elephant), and then when adapting to a wet environment, this trait led these apes to employ a vertical stance on the hind limbs, because the preference of the fore limbs was to grab and carry.

So that something like this from before the split between eg. humans and chimps ...:
[Image: G3466_photo25.jpg]
... turned into something like this:
[Image: sashao.jpg]
Put very simplistic. I'm personally very enthusiastic about the aquatic notion, but it is only one suggestion on the origin of eg. human bipedalism or human loss of fur.

It seems a stretch - a forced fit of circumstance and coincidence. There is only conjecture and no physical evidence; possibly untestable and unfalsifiable.

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03-08-2012, 09:06 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(03-08-2012 08:41 PM)CEngelbrecht Wrote:  [Image: Young-western-lowland-gorilla-wading-bip...stream.jpg]

How can you be sure that's not Bigfoot?

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04-08-2012, 05:06 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(03-08-2012 09:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  It seems a stretch - a forced fit of circumstance and coincidence. There is only conjecture and no physical evidence; possibly untestable and unfalsifiable.

That's traditionally considered the problem with the aquatic ape notion, that its phylogenic comparisons are seemingly untestable. One could argue that exactly the same problem applies with viewing humans solely as a terrestrial ape, but the burden of proof always lies with the idea challenging the consensus.

One testable aquatic possibility may lie with studying scratch marks on the fossilized teeth of proto-humans, eg. Australopithecines, to try to discern the general diet of these species. I know this has been done with the possible ancestors of both elephants and rhinos, which have been found to have been semi-aquatic (eg. the possible elephant ancestor Moeritherium, which is as much as 37 million years old).

I know of one study of the teeth of "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis, 3.2mya), which seems to leave some confusion as to her diet. Quoting link:
Quote:"The Lucy species is among the first hominids to show thickened enamel and flattened teeth,” an indication that hard, or abrasive foods such as nuts, seeds and tubers, might be on the menu, Ungar said. However, the microwear texture analysis indicates that tough objects, such as grass and leaves, dominated Lucy’s diet.
Now, I'm not an expert on fossilized teeth marks, but I can't help but wonder if these scientists only considered a purely terrestrial diet for Lucy, and not an aquatic one like shellfish, sedges., etc. That maybe that's the source of the confusion of enamel characteristics vs. actual marks.
But taking Lucy alone is inadequate, in her life span she could've lived on a diet different than the one she was otherwise originally adapted to, which could've left misleading dental marks. A possible general aquatic diet for past humanity would have to be considered on a wide range of early human fossils.

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04-08-2012, 05:20 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
Diet can also be addressed via stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. These methods for early hominids suggests a diet of grassland and forest components mainly. Aquatic organisms and plants will stand out.

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04-08-2012, 05:55 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(29-05-2012 07:42 AM)kingschosen Wrote:  I heard this for the first time last night when watching AP's mockumentary about mermaids.

I started looking further into it, and it seems to make a lot of sense; however, it also seems to be highly discredited and laughed at.

Thoughts?

Oh and link here and here.

It was a fun idea, until the genetic, and fossil evidence pointed else where.

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04-08-2012, 11:04 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(04-08-2012 05:20 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Diet can also be addressed via stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. These methods for early hominids suggests a diet of grassland and forest components mainly. Aquatic organisms and plants will stand out.

I don't think so, such isotopes don't survive fossilization. That method can only be used on younger specimens where actual biological material survive, eg. neanderthals. Not something the ages of Australopithecus, early Homo, etc.
But maybe I have misunderstood something, do you have specific references?

"We do not feel the heat of the stars because they are so far from the Earth. [...] The Moon has no light of its own but derives it from the sun. [...] The Moon is made of Earth and has plains and ravines on it."
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04-08-2012, 11:09 PM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(04-08-2012 05:55 PM)fstratzero Wrote:  It was a fun idea, until the genetic, and fossil evidence pointed else where.

That's a little vague, 'cause to my knowledge nothing genetic or fossilic directly contradict the possibility of humans being a coastal ape in ancient times, rather than eg. an arboreal or grassland ape. What exactly do you mean?

"We do not feel the heat of the stars because they are so far from the Earth. [...] The Moon has no light of its own but derives it from the sun. [...] The Moon is made of Earth and has plains and ravines on it."
- Anaxagoras, Athens, Greece, ca. 450 b.c.
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05-08-2012, 03:39 AM
RE: Dear sciencey people: what are your opinions on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?
(03-08-2012 09:06 PM)Erxomai Wrote:  
(03-08-2012 08:41 PM)CEngelbrecht Wrote:  [Image: Young-western-lowland-gorilla-wading-bip...stream.jpg]

How can you be sure that's not Bigfoot?

As I understand it, that picture is taken somewheres in Africa, not in the outback Rockies. Also, I don't find Bigfoot to be a parsimonous possibility.

"We do not feel the heat of the stars because they are so far from the Earth. [...] The Moon has no light of its own but derives it from the sun. [...] The Moon is made of Earth and has plains and ravines on it."
- Anaxagoras, Athens, Greece, ca. 450 b.c.
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