Sunday, September 16, 2012

Like an Ape Out of Water

Thinking back to the 2012 Summer Olympics, two things stand out in my mind:  One, it was amazing to me to see just how specialized the body forms were in order to excel at certain sports.  I've seen that in other Olympic games, but for some reason in this year's competition it seemed even more prevalent.  Two, in the majority of the swimming competitions, the participants have mastered what I would call a "dolphin body kick" where, from the mid-to-lower back and on out to the toes, the athletes would propel themselves with a rhythmic waving motion in their latter half.

On a seemingly unrelated note, I have always been curious about why we look so different from our evolutionary close relatives.  Why are we bipedal when they are not?  Why are we naked when they have fur?

Back when evolution's implications were being explored, scientists of the time came up with an answer to those questions:  We moved from the jungles to the savannah.  We needed to stand to see prey and watch for predators in the tall grasses.  The heat of the savannah and other factors helped to make our fur coats unnecessary, so they were shed in an evolutionary process.  Etc.

As archeologist dug into our past, they discovered a big problem with that theory:  The fossilized plants found with the ancient hominid skeletons were not from the savannah!  However, academia has become a little too attached to the previous theory. It has become a faith.  Even though there is this glaring problem with the theory, they still cling to it.   They use it as a foundation for teaching and as a springboard for their questions in interpreting archeological findings rather than embracing the void of no theory, or exploring other possible options...

NetFlix has recently incorporated "TED Talks" into their library, and one particular series of talks called "Ancient Clues" discussed this little big issue.  A delightful elderly lady scientist, named Elaine Morgan, discussed a theory which offered to fill in the gaps and step past the savannah issue.  It's a theory from back in the early 1960's which never got any traction, nor apparently was it ever properly refuted.  It goes like this:

What if we had aquatic ancestors in our evolutionary family tree?  Aquatic chimps?  Strange, yes, but there are several factors which we seem to share with other mammals of aquatic ancestry.  I'll list a few to entice you to check out the talk for yourself:

  1. Except for one subterranean mole in South America, all "naked" mammals have an evolutionary aquatic ancestor.
  2. Only mammals with aquatic ancestors can consciously control their breathing.  (This is critical for our ability to speak.)
  3. Only mammals with aquatic ancestors have a layer of fat under the skin, like we have but chimps do not.

If you have an interest in evolution science, you should definitely watch this.  Also, if you can appreciate how the beliefs of even scientists can morph into a system resembling religion, you should definitely watch this.

This may not be the correct answer to the question of why we are so different than other primates, but we owe it to ourselves to honestly explore this theory as a possibility.



  1. I personally like the alien theory myself. I discuss it in my blog on Hitler. What do you think?

  2. Hi Angela. I'm relatively new to the ancient alien theory, and it seems like there are actually several alien theories beyond just "there are/were aliens." I can't say that I know enough to say with 100% one way or another, but from what I have seen so far I am still very skeptical of the general idea. Who knows? I may eventually change my mind.

    I have seen your post, and I haven't yet done the research to know the credibility of the alleged comments of the various rocket scientists, or the context in which the statements were made if they are accurate.

    Some of the other ideas, like people (or rather aliens) living in the center earth with a sun at what should be the earth's core has many problems. For example, seismographs which track earthquakes make triangulation calculations based on a solid and liquid core, consistent with the traditional models, and these calculations do work with great precision. Also, there is a problem with heat buildup. Having a sun in the center covered by the earth's crust would be like the ultimate greenhouse-effect. With no way to release the heat other than conduction through the crust, temperatures would likely be on the order of thousands upon thousands of degrees on the inner "surface."

    On the flip side, the case for natural evolution is getting stronger now that we can track the DNA signatures. Records of errors and mergers are retained in the DNA, and they are revealing a story of migration which is significantly different, yet similar, to the models proposed twenty to thirty years ago.

    I think that within the next two to three decades, the picture is going to become clearer one way or another. So I guess we will see!