The Aquatic Ape Theory Returns

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.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “The Aquatic Ape Theory Returns

  1. Homo Sapiens totally is an aquatic ape.

  2. The Daily Express runs stories like, “Queen Unmasked as High Priestess of Satanic Cult.”

    This article only shows that the author has water on the brain!

  3. Wait. She ISN’T a high priestess?

  4. SC, you said ostrich and penguin as two examples but really, that takes in a lot of avian species almost depending on your definition of “upright”. My parakeet has a straight spine that is pretty much vertical as he sits on his perch and walks back and forth.

  5. Ross Cameron

    Lots of empty spaces in creos heads.

  6. The Express has form. I mentioned here earlier that it had a headline about the Creation Museum that read something like “Is this proof that humans and dinosaurs lived together?”

    More seriously, in the run-up to the Brexit referendum they are headline claim was that Turkey was about to join the European Union and that when it did twelve million Turks were ready to immigrate into the UK.

    The Express was recently taken over by the Mirror group, but perhaps this hasn’t made much difference to its distinctive attitude towards the truth

  7. ”…distinctive attitude towards the truth”
    I like that description.

  8. Lots of reasons to be suspicious of the Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT) in general, and of these arguments in particular. For example, the claim that humans don’t have hair is {ahem} all wet: we do have hair, in fact an average human has as many hair follicles as an average chimpanzee. Our hair just grows a lot differently than a chimp’s.

    Also, there are several facts about human anatomy that simply kill the AAT like Raid on a roach. My favorite is the position of the foramen magnum, the opening in the braincase where the spinal cord emerges. One of the prime features of all hominins is that our foramen magnum is vertically below the braincase. This is necessary for a fully-upright posture. But the vertical foramen magnum is completely wrong for a swimming mammal. Float on your chest with your head in line with your spine, and where are you looking? Down, an almost-useless direction. You have to rotate your head backwards and place a lot of strain on the neck joint in order to look ahead, along the water’s surface. Now consider a fully aquatic-adapted mammal like a seal. Where does it look when it’s floating on its chest? Its foramen magnum is at the back of its skull, so when skull and spine are in line it’s looking straight ahead of it along the surface of the water.

    Then there’s the fact that in recent years we’ve found examples of pretty much every stage in human evolution, and every one is a land ape. There’s nowhere in the timeline to fit an aquatic-ape stage.

  9. wolfwalker says: “There’s nowhere in the timeline to fit an aquatic-ape stage.”

    What about the Flood? Of the billions of humans who were destroyed in the waters, a few had mutations that let them survive. And we’re their descendants. It’s a perfect example of natural selection!