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Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

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Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

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  • March 30, 2013
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Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
This is a theory stating that humans evolved via an aquatic or semi-aquatic stage and that this fact accounts for many features seen in human anatomy such as hairlessness, standing erect, bipedal nature etc. At the least it proposes that human ancestors spent quite some time adapting to semi-aquatic or marshy habitat if not in a completely aquatic scenario using the principle of convergent evolution. It asserts that life in an aquatic environment explains these features thus it is important to have an aquatic stage in the transition from ape to hominid to human beings as we know us know today. Origin:

The theory was first proposed by Max Westenhöfer- a German pathologist around 1942 and then by independently Sir Alister Hardy (knighted in 1957) a noted British Marine Biologist in the year 1960.This idea emerged mainly from the fact that we observe many human traits that draw a strong parallel to aquatic mammals and sets them apart from other primates. Since this hypothesis was somewhat controversial and outside the expertise of Hardy, he was quite hesitant in voicing it .He defined it as the following- according to his thesis a branch of this primitive ape-stock must have been forced out of arboreal life due competition due to other group of terrestrial animals hence having to feed from sea-shore and shallow water of coast feeding on stuff like sea urchins, shell-fish etc. He also proposed it to happen in the warmer parts of the world where man could stand in water for relatively long. Later it was supported by a writer named Morgan. Finally other versions suggested littoral i.e. near the shore feeding and wading rather than strong aquatic adaptations. Evaluation of the hypothesis:

Nicknamed as AAH or AAT the theory suggests that many features that set humans apart from closely related primates are due to adapting to a period of aquatic or semi-aquatic wading, littoral feeding lifestyle however followed by returning to land before...