Remember the aquatic ape theory that made a big — ah — splash in the popular press back in the 1960s? Wikipedia has a good discussion of the idea and its history. This is nothing like creationism, of course, but it’s been generally ignored for lack of verifiable evidence.
Well, the aquatic ape is back. The Daily Express, a national tabloid newspaper headquartered in London (with an active comments feature), has this shocking headline: Evolution BOMBSHELL: Humans evolved from SEMI-AQUATIC apes, claim scientists. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
HUMANS evolved from semi-aquatic apes which lived in water, according to a bizarre new evolution theory which aims to explain why humans are so different from our chimpanzee cousins. Some evolutionists suggest humans evolved from apes which spent most of their time by the water, and describe our distant ancestors as ‘semi-aquatic’.
Ooooooooooooh! It’s a “new” evolution theory! The tabloid says:
For starters, we are the only animals to permanently walk upright. [Except for penguins, kangaroos, the ostrich, and maybe some others] This is apparently down to the fact that we had to develop that stance as it is easier to keep our heads above the water.
That’s the reason? Then why doesn’t the hippopotamus walk upright? Ah well, the tabloid continues:
We are also covered in a layer of fat which keeps us warm from the cold water and like every other marine animal, we do not have hair.
There are other hairless mammals, and they aren’t particularly aquatic — e.g.: pigs, elephants, rhinos, etc. But let’s not dismiss the idea too quickly. The tabloid quotes an expert:
Rhys Evans, an expert on head-neck physiology at the Royal Marsden hospital, London, said: “Humans are very different from other apes. We lack fur, walk upright, have big brains and subcutaneous fat and have a descended larynx, a feature common among aquatic animals but not apes. Humans have particularly large sinuses, spaces in the skull between our cheeks, noses and foreheads. But why do we have empty spaces in our heads? [Why?] It makes no sense until we consider the evolutionary perspective. Then it becomes clear: our sinuses acted as buoyancy aids that helped keep our heads above water.”
Very persuasive! The tabloid goes on a bit, but we’ve excerpted enough, so this is where we’ll leave them.
Well, dear reader, what do you make of it? Your Curmudgeon’s head is — ahem! — swimming with this amazing information. Perhaps it’s time for the aquatic ape theory to go mainstream (as it were). We welcome your opinions.
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