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thelurker's avatar

What if we were descended from swimming apes, rather than from hunting apes?

Asked by thelurker (489 points ) 2 months ago

Desmond Morris discussed the swimming ape idea in his book The Naked Ape, and also in his television show The Human Animal. Here is a link to the clip, if you are interested. Wikipedia says that the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis “has received little serious attention or acceptance from mainstream paleoanthropologists, has been met with significant skepticism and is not considered a strong scientific hypothesis.” But what if it were true that we went through a swimming phase and did not go on to become hunting apes? What physical or cultural differences might we manifest today?

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21 Answers

syz's avatar

We’d probably look like dolphins. Hair creates drag and doesn’t insulate in water, unless it becomes thick enough to function like beaver or otter coats – so I guess we could’ve become dramatically hairier.

Our nostrils would probably migrate to the top of our heads…oh, wow, I’m getting a pretty ugly mental image of a sea-human.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

We’re closest in DNA to chimpanzees not apes but just a teeny difference in DNA makes an enormous difference. There is more to it and while we all have a common ancestor, we are not directly related to sea mammals (animals that once lived on land and then returned to the oceans probably for survival.

Check out the new Cosmos with Neal degrasse Tyson – it’s like Carl Sagan with octane. Fascinating wonderful and enlightening.

longgone's avatar

@non_omnis_moriar Chimpanzees are apes.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

We are not descended from apes, swimming or swinging. The hypothesis is preposterous.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

My bad. Meant to type “Great Apes” and then o be more specific; Chimpanzees

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It has not yet been proven we descended form any sort of monkeys nor chimps, although many people I have met are quite obviously descended from chumps.

gondwanalon's avatar

If we did evolve from aquatic apes then why don’t we have other aquatic features other than being mostly hairless? We don’t even have webbed toes/fingers.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@gondwanalon We have gills during a certain portion of our formation in our mommies.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

EEEEeeeeeeK! ee-eeeK! eeK! EEEeeeek! eeek! eeeeeeek?

I got nothin.’

But Great Question, very interesting and thought provoking. One of my childhood fantasies. But no time at the moment. Welcome to Fluther, @thelurker!

Jaxk's avatar

Sounds like an excuse for peeing in the pool.

Mimishu1995's avatar

- The mermaid wouldn’t be a legend.
– We would have to worry about overpopulation a bit later (since the sea is bigger than the earth. Not to mention the sea level is rising)
– In some countries the shark would replace the tiger as the sacred animal.
– The Monkey King would probably be replaced by The Dophin King.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Dan_Lyons But that’s true with all Chordates which are animals possessing a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail for at least some period of their life. Remember: ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@gondwanalon ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny Isn’t he Haeckelian form of recapitulation theory now considered defunct?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Perhaps, @gondwanalon but then perhaps all the animals possessing a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail for at least some period of their life are/were descended from fishes.

@Yetanotheruser The Haeckelian form of recapitulation theory has been viewed within the field of developmental biology as a historical side-note rather than as dogma, but nonetheless it has not been disproved.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Yes, it is considered defunct.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@dappled_leaves Not only is it considered defunct, but I’ve seen where some “Creationist” websites are using it as a tool to discredit anything having to do with evolution!

dappled_leaves's avatar

PS, both of you are directly quoting Wikipedia all over the place – it’s always nice to show your sources, folks.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@dappled_leaves

Sources:
…his concept of recapitulation has been discredited in its absolute form…
New World Encyclopedia article on Ernst Haeckel

I’ve seen where some “Creationist” websites are using it as a tool to discredit anything having to do with evolution! Here’s an example.

If these posts resemble any Wikipedia entry it is only because the Wikipedia entry is relying on similar research to what I have provided.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Dan_Lyons FYI: Fishes are also Chordates.

@Yetanotheruser Take a look at embryology.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Yetanotheruser <shrug>

From the recapitulation theory page,

“The Haeckelian form of recapitulation theory is considered defunct”

“the theory of recapitulation itself has been viewed within the field of developmental biology as a historical side-note rather than as dogma”

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