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Can humans' ability to dive with only breathing modifications tell us anything about our evolution?

For example, it is possible to imagine a human anatomy that would be destroyed by the pressure of a few meters of water, and yet humans can, with scuba apparatus dive to several hundred meters.

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2 Answers 2

This is not a complete answer to your question, but your question prompted me to research the Mammalian Diving Reflex, which is used, according to the article, as a survival mechanism rather than assisting us in day to day functioning.

Looking at the evolution of the diving reflex, and how it appears in varying degrees in all mammals, suggest that it has been around for a long time, this article suggests for over 125 million years.

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Actually, there was a very interesting Animal planet episode (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm3XdC-p8_I) on the recent news about the probable discovery of a mermaid body. In the show, scientists suggest that may be our evolution has had some roots under water. First, our body structure is far more plastic and ergonomic than the structure of a monkey. We are great swimmers in our movements and as you mentioned - our ability to hold our breaths under water for a very long time - the record is about 20 minutes! We can easily control our breathing which is something usually connected with marine mammals. In difference of other animals, we are almost hairless. Just like other marine mammals, we are born with insulating fat distributed throughout our bodies. This keeps us warm in water. All this takes place in the "Aquatic ape hypothesis". This view claims that our alleged ancestors went through a watery stage in our evolutionary development.

Of course, although all those facts connect very conveniently, the theory has not been proven yet by experiments and is so far just an idea that should be considered and investigated more.

In addition, some people still have marks from gills as an atavism.

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2  
The animal planet "documentary" is fake: oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/mermaids.html. –  kmm Jun 23 '13 at 22:18
    
@kmm: this post on Skepticblog also covers the fake documentary skepticblog.org/2013/06/05/mermaids-pullllease –  nico Jun 24 '13 at 12:09

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