Darwin-L Message Log 2:127 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<2:127>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU  Wed Oct 27 13:52:18 1993

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1993 13:52:18 -0500
To: hantuo@utu.fi, darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: human evolution

I have been to swamped with other things this week to reply to your last
message. I assumed that you were familiar with a critique of the aquatic
hypothesis published in 1991. Your latest posting indicates otherwise. Here is
the reference:

Machteld Roede, Jan Wind, John Patrick, and Vernon Reynolds. 1991. The Aquatic
Ape: Fact or Fiction? London: Souvenir Press. 369 pp.

I have not read this book. It was reviewed in AJPA in the August 1992 issue

Permit me to quote from the first paragraph of the review:

"Most readers of AJPA will be surprised to find a recent book devoted to an
issue we thought long dead. The book contains 22 chapters, some of which are
barely more than abstracts. Many of the chapters support the theory of an
aquatic stage in earliest hominid evolution, but others are neutral, and at
least three are bitingly critical of the "Aquatic Ape Theory." The final
chapter and the epilogue conclude that there is little evidence in support of
the Aquatic Ape Theory and that the evidence is support of the traditional
Savannah Theory is much more compelling."

This is the proceeding of a symposium convened by the Dutch Association of
Physical Anthropology. It attempted to be an even-handed, serious examination
of the two arguments. The reviewer found that the different views represented
were difficult to compare because they were presented from such divergent
perspective and methods.

"One of the major uses of this book that I see is in seminars considering the
difference between scientific and popular explanation."

The Aquatic Ape hypothesis, I believe, falls into the latter category. I have
borrowed a copy of the Table of Contents. The theory is presented in the first
five chapters. Elaine Morgan wrote the first two. The next fifteen chapters, by
various authors, examine the reception by anthropologists, the geological
evidence, aspects of general aquatic adaptations, adipose tissue,
thermoregulation, respiratory adaptations, locomotion, comparative anatomy, and

I hope this is what you are looking for.

[By the way, my comment on creationism in my last posting was not meant to
offend. I meant to compare the difficulty of trying to compare a specific model
(e.g. aquatic ape, creationism) to an entire discipline (paleoanthropology,
evolutionary theory) in which there is still lively debate and disagreement on

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