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Savanna Theory Versus Aquatic Ape Theory of Human Evolution

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Savanna Theory Versus Aquatic Ape Theory of Human Evolution

The evolution of man is constantly in question. While we are reasonably sure that modern humans and primates are both related to the same common ancestor, there is constant debate over what initially caused the two species to split into early hominids and apes. According to some, our longest and most popular theory on the division of man and ape is profoundly wrong. However, those same individuals usually offer an equally controversial theory as a substitute, one that is almost impossible to scientifically test or prove. Both the Savanna Theory and the Aquatic Ape Theory offer solutions to how and why humans evolved into bipedal toolmakers. But with enough questioning, each loses its accountability to rhetorical science.

It was commonly believed that early hominids left the jungle to live on the open plains of Africa. Called the Savannah Theory, it was strongly promoted by Professor Raymond Dart, after he gained recognition for discovering the Taung skull in 1925. The Taung skull was the first admitted link between man and ape, and Prof. Dart based his theory on the modern location of the discovered fossils. However, a report in 2000 by Marc Verhaegen claims that a savanna evolution is extremely improbable. Based on biological and physiological data, he tries to disprove the savanna theory and suggests that our evolution would more likely occur in a humid and wet setting than the dry heat of the grasslands.

Humans have almost nothing in common with any surviving mammals of the savanna. Most mammals of hot, dry climates do not rely heavily on water for survival. They have a high tolerance to heat, and their body temperatures can fluctuate more than 6oC between day and night. They can bear a dehydration of 20%, whereas 10% or more would be fatal to humans. What little they do drink or consume naturally through food, is conserved because they do not sweat. Hair and fur keeps the sun off their direct skin, while humans would have to sweat 10-15 liters of water to physically cool down. (Verhaegen)

Even structurally, humans and African land mammals don’t have much in common.
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