Essay PreviewMore ↓
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.
How to Cite this Page
"Savanna Theory Versus Aquatic Ape Theory of Human Evolution." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Aug 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Evolution and natural selection, two of the most influential scientific discoveries in biology to date, capable of unlocking our past and answering questions of how we became the way we are. However, our understanding of human evolution is hindered when pseudoscientific ideas refuses to yield to legitimate theories. One such idea is the aquatic ape hypothesis (AAH) which attempts to explain a number of human adaptations with the single explanation of a semi-aquatic ancestor. Proponents use incorrect “facts” and logical fallacies such as straw men, appeals to authority, and false comparison in their arguments.... [tags: Aquatic Ape Theory]
1787 words (5.1 pages)
- ... (Westrup, 2002) These multiple similarities of humans with aquatic organism and the environmental situation of the time, greatly suggest and helps proves that AAT best fits the explanations of the man/ape primate evolutionary split. The Aquatic Ape Theory explains the start of human evolution on the bases of basic evolutionary terms established by Charles Darwin. As explained earlier, the theory states that humans traveled from the wooded area toward water. In doing this, humans adapted to the new aquatic environment, dealing with survival of the fittest and geographic isolation which caused speciation.... [tags: human evolution, savannah theory]
1338 words (3.8 pages)
- I chose to research white rhinoceros species because it is the most populous rhinoceros species meaning I would have access to more information. There was not much of choice because African Savanna has only two rhinoceros species: white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros. Those species share many similar traits and differ in small features, but I chose one over the other because of the considerable difference between their populations. The statistics tells there are around 10,000 white rhinoceroses, while there are only 7 black rhinoceroses in the world.... [tags: White Rhinoceraus, African Savanna]
1954 words (5.6 pages)
- Aquatic Therapy refers to treatments and exercises performed in water for physical rehabilitation purposes. Aquatic therapy uses water as a therapeutic benefit for individuals. The water acts as a form of resistance and aids in improving ones function, flexibility, range of motion, strength, balance, aerobic capacity and endurance, gait and locomotion, and pain management. Due to the buoyancy of the water and its non-gravitational forces, aquatic therapy offers a form of exercise which does not put stress on an individual’s joints or spine.... [tags: aquatic therapy, hydrotherapy, whirlpools]
963 words (2.8 pages)
- Study of the orangutan began in earnest in the 70s, when Louis Leakey dispatched Birutė Galdikas to join Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey in their study of the great apes (de Waal, 1995). While Goodall’s work with chimpanzees brought extensive public awareness to the animal (Quammen, 2003) and Fossey’s groundbreaking study of gorillas was so prominent a Hollywood film was based on her work (“The Gorilla King,” 2008), Birutė Galdikas and her orangutans didn’t capture the hearts of the public in quite the same way (Schwartz, 1987).... [tags: apes, Birute Galdikas, red ape, hominid]
1440 words (4.1 pages)
- Man could not evolve to any other state, because he was made in the ultimate state. He was made in the image and likeness of the Father so there was no need for evolution; hence, there was no sign of evolution from the beginning. Since sin came into the world, man has been deceived into thinking there is evolution. We are not talking about the theory of evolution that says man started from an amoeba or as an ape and eventually began to walk upright; not that evolution, but evolution in the sense of development.... [tags: Evolution]
1355 words (3.9 pages)
- Methods of Characterization in The Hairy Ape Eugene Gladstone O’Neill was born October 16, 1888, to Irish-American parents in New York City. His mother, Ella O’Neill, reserved and genteel (Sheaffer 15), came from a prosperous Cleveland family. His father, James O’Neill, from a poor family, was an actor who became synonymous with Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, a role he performed over 3000 times (Sheaffer 8). Driven by fear of poverty, James worked nonstop and constantly tried his hand at get-rich-quick schemes, such as buying and selling real estate.... [tags: Hairy Ape Essays]
2333 words (6.7 pages)
- What makes a primate a primate. A primate is defined by its many incredible features. A primate is a mammal that has certain characteristics such as: flexible fingers and toes, opposable thumbs, flatter face than other mammals, eyes that face forward and spaced close together, large and complex cerebrum, and social animals. What makes a primate a primate is its characteristics. Some of the physical features primates are identified by is their teeth, snouts, eyes, ears, arms, legs, fingers, and toes.... [tags: Evolution]
687 words (2 pages)
- The Evolution of Ichthyosaurs- Large Aquatic Reptiles In the early 1800’s, a new discovery that left paleontologists in awe was the fossil finding of the immeasurable amount of species of reptiles, Ichthyosaurs. Greek for “fish lizards”, these fossils were found all over the world. Because these large aquatic reptiles migrated just as whales do today, paleontologists have had the amazing advantage of collecting fascinating bone fragments throughout the past 177 years. Ichthyosaurs swam the ocean life from about 245 million until about 90 million years ago- approximately the same time dinosaurs ruled the land.... [tags: Anthropology Essays Paleontology Papers]
1068 words (3.1 pages)
- Yank’s Absurd Inheritance in The Hairy Ape It is intriguing how Eugene O’Neill stages the audience for The Hairy Ape. When the curtain opens upon the forecastle of the transatlantic liner, the audience is immediately beset by Yank’s seemingly unassailable sense of identity. “Everting else dat makes de woild move, somep’n makes it move. It can’t move without somep’n else, see. Den yuh get down to me. I’m at de bottom, get me!” (261). Yank trumpets himself, in effect, as the prime mover of the industrial world.... [tags: Hairy Ape Essays]
3197 words (9.1 pages)
Verhaegen’s theory is not new. In 1960, a marine biologist by the name of Sir Alister Hardy published an article called “Was Man More Aquatic in the Past?” He offered the basic idea that modern man evolved from his relationship with water bodes, but had very little evidence to support the claim. Many years later, in 1972, then-TV scriptwriter Elaine Morgan grabbed onto the theory and began to be it’s chief promoter. She published several books on the subject, as recent as 1997, and titled it the Aquatic Ape Theory. Since it gained public recognition, the Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT) has been under severe criticism from the scientific community for various reasons, most notably the improper techniques many use when ‘proving’ it. Still, the AAT is interesting to discuss as a solution to the unlikelihood of purely terrestrial evolution.
Those who endorse the AAT are quick to point out the similarities between humans and many types of aquatic life. Many sea mammals are generally hairless, similar to humans. However, on a cellular level, the skin of a seal or dolphin is very different than that of modern human. And most sea mammals are extremely large, retaining heat longer naturally. Having hair would cause them to overheat. (Moore) In addition, we are one of the few mammals that have control of our voluntary breathing. While this can be debated, it is supported by the placement of our nostrils. While many apes have horizontally aligned nostrils, the nose on a human faces downwards. Thus, when we dip our head below water, air pockets are trapped in our nasal passages and prevent water from flowing upwards. Being able to dive underwater would be invaluable for a weak, gathering-based life form.
This evolutionary trait supports the AAT belief that early hominids ate a large portion of aquatic vegetation and wildlife. Verhaegen uses dental studies to suggest that while some australopithecines, the earliest genera of hominids, preferred soft fruits and vegetables, there are examples of hominids, like Australopithecus robustus, who seem to have eaten much harder food items as well. If apes and chimps are still known to eat various shoots and stalks (and even humans eat cereals), it is not too far-fetched to imagine an early hominid surviving the dry season on wetland plants. In addition, the iodine and omega-3 fatty acids used in brain development and growth are plentiful in fish and shellfish. (Westrup) Verhaegen even offers a theory of how the use of tools would evolve from using rocks to break open the hard shells of mollusks.
Because humans are the only mammals to walk upright full-time, there must be extinguishing circumstances for them to solely develop bipedalism. Unfortunately, there are some discrepancies in how the AAT explains this development. The foundation of bipedalism in AAT is centered on water’s buoyancy in supporting the body. As the early hominids constantly hunt and search for food in the water, their muscles would slowly develop for them to stand erect. This would keep their heads above water, allow them quicker travel, and still free their hands for carrying things (such as across the savanna, except in wetlands). Still, whether it was lakes, rivers, oceans, or a combination of any of the above, most experts of AAT agree that early hominids only spent a few hours per day in the water. Any more than that, and there would be considerable risk to predators. For while they may seem safer from land-based hunters (such as lions), there are still many other predators (such as crocodiles) that lurk in the waters. In addition, most large bodies of water would probably attract land predators for drinking, anyway. (Moore)
During my research, I found the notions of AAT just as impossible as the Savanna Theory. While AAT is an interesting concept, there are just as many uncertainties in its structure as in the Savanna Theory. If AAT supporters point out fossilized shells and sea life found alongside hominid remains, then their detractors will snidely reply that most fossilized digs are pre-biased for easiest access and abundance. I was happy to see Marc Verhaegen offer a compromise, that we gradually evolved from, “frugi- and herbivores in gallery or tropical or mangrove forests to ‘short’-legged bipedal waders in forest clearings or mangrove swamps, to omnivores and partial shellfish feeders along seacoasts and rivers, and finally to long-legged bipedalists on land.” The question of human evolution cannot be definitively answered with our current knowledge. Essentially, we are just waiting for more evidence to constantly surface. Until then, it is important to remember there is no prize for guessing the “right” answer, and that only by keeping our minds open to new ideas will we come closer to an understanding of ourselves.
Moore, Jim. “Aquatic Ape Theory: Sink or Swim?” Homepage and various links. <http://www.aquaticape.org/index.html>
Verhaegen, Marc and Pierre-Francois Puech. “Hominid lifestyle and diet reconsidered: paleo-environmental and comparative data.” Human Evolution. pp 151-162; 2000. Found at: <http://allserv.ugent.be/~mvaneech/Fil/Verhaegen_Human_Evolution.html>
Westrup, Hugh. “All Wet?” Current Science. Vol 88, Issue 6. p8; Nov 8, 2002.