The aquatic ape theory suggests that many features that distinguish humans from their nearest evolutionary relatives emerged because the ancestors of humans underwent a period when they were adapting to an aquatic or semiaquatic way of life, but returned to terrestrial life before having become fully adapted to the aquatic environment. Is there any new evidence of this?

  • $\begingroup$ interesting - I have not heard this theory. Did you have links/references to this from your own reading? $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 28 '12 at 10:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There is a book called "Aquatic Ape Hypothesis" by Elaine Morgan which is definitely worth a read. $\endgroup$ – c0zmic Jun 28 '12 at 13:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm very interested in this too. David Attenborough once did a radio programme about the aquatic ape hypothesis, and you can listen to it free online. $\endgroup$ – Rik Smith-Unna Jun 28 '12 at 15:11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In short: No. johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/pseudoscience/… $\endgroup$ – kmm Jun 29 '12 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ See also: aquaticape.org/whyanthro.html $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jun 30 '12 at 1:25

The Aquatic Ape theory has never gained wide acceptance. This is because it has never had strong evidential support.

The features supposedly supporting the hypothesis only do so under an extremely superficial analysis (e.g. the argument for bipedalism), frequently actually occur in other non-aquatic mammals (e.g. hairlessness in naked mole rats and rhinos, a descended larynx in red deer), show no sign of having arisen at similar times in the human evolutionary record (e.g. encephalisation evolved far later than bipedalism and bipedalism vastly predates hairlessness) and lack fossil evidence of having evolved near aquatic environments.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ yes - An idea is often not a hypothesis, and hypotheses often have no supporting evidence. $\endgroup$ – shigeta Feb 19 '13 at 17:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Article in the Guardian by an Editor of Nature on this: guardian.co.uk/science/occams-corner/2013/may/07/… I wouldn't say this theory is creationism, but it does not have the weight of any evidence behind it, which is necessary for evolutionary theories. $\endgroup$ – shigeta May 8 '13 at 12:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.