THE AQUATIC APE

In the denouement of The Flame there is a single reference to Man as the Aquatic Ape.

This is a somewhat esoteric anthropological theory developed by Professor Alister Hardy (Oxford) in the 1930’s and published in the 60’s. The American journalist Elaine Morgan has championed it in recent times.

To date it remains fringe science at best although my personal view is that the internal logic easily surpasses any of the mainstream paleo-centric theories. Morgan’s arguments are much more eloquent and detailed and worth a read (http://www.elainemorgan.me.uk/)

The gist of the theory is that approximately 5-7million years ago in an area of Ethiopia known as the Danakill Depression there was a major seismic event which flooded the Rift Valley from the Red Sea to Central Africa (please note I’m using modern descriptions of regions that looked quite different then).

Anyway, the surviving mammalian primates of the time found themselves in a swampy environment where getting around and catching food involved a lot of wading. Modern man’s hips are unique amongst higher primates. Their angulation and flanges allow for upright walking. This is an adaptation that derives from wading which can be seen in the Probiscus Monkey of South East Asia. The other significant adaptation involved diet. Seafood became de riguer with the attendant Omega 3 uptake and increased brain development.

Over several million years our primate ancestors adapted to this environment in a number of interesting and some unique ways;

-       Fur became hair became hide/skin insulated with subcutaneous fat

-       Larynxes descended allowing separate breathing and eating which is why we can swim and dive (your dog/cat can eat and breath at the same time and hate the water for good reason)

-       Brains rich on Omega 3 fatty acids became sophisticated enough to develop language. No other species (dolphins included) comes anywhere near the complexity of human language.

-       Hips as above

-       The hymen evolved to protect the birth canal.

Of course, fictionally, this was part of Terra’s plan: to create a creature that could link to her and be aware at an intrinsically planetary level. However, fiction aside, the theory caught my interest from the first introduction. It appears to explain so much about us. Recent genetic tools and the latest fossil finds at the mouth of the Rift Valley seem to be slowly adding weight to Hardy’s arguments.

If you pursue the subject further I hope you find something of interest.

iDM

Comments:

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