I just want to say that Huxley is pretty bad at swimming.

I quickly add, for a 3 year old human, he’s pretty darn good at it. Amanda’s family is very aquatic, as tends to happen when everyone spends several weeks per year (or longer) on the edge of a lake. They can all ski really well, they can all swim really well, etc. etc. So, very soon after Huxley was born, his grandfather started to bring him to age-appropriate swimming lessons. He is now 37 months old and has been to a swimming lesson almost every week. In addition to to that, Amanda brings him to the pool pretty close to once a week, often more. In addition to that, during the summer, he has spent several days at the lake and gone in once or twice almost every day the conditions allowed. In short, he should be about as good a swimmer as any 3 year old.

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And he is. In fact, better. He is far beyond his age to the extent that he’s skipped grades, and the people at the swimming school have to keep making adjustments in order to ensure he is always getting the next level of training rather than being held back by the other kids who are not as good as he is.

But still, this means he can drag himself underwater for several bananas (the unit of time used by swimming instructors, apparently), and he can thrash around moving his body across the surface several inches in a predetermined direction. He can get himself to the bottom of a pool as deep as he is tall and easily pick up a ring or some other object, and he can float around in various positions comfortably.

So he swims better than a new born through 1 month old hippo (they can’t swim at all, really) but he’s nowhere near as good as dolphin. But the thing is, this is after three years. Had Amanda and I been aquatic apes, Huxley would not have survived to this ripe old age. The diving reflex, proffered as evidence for an aquatic stage, during which we spent considerable time in (not near, in) water, happens in mammals generally and alone is not enough to count as a retained adaptation suggesting an earlier evolutionary stage. If human ancestors subsequent to the split with chimpanzees went through a significant aquatic phase (not just living near water, which is one of the backpedaled versions of the AAT) then our children would probably … not necessarily but probably … be much better at swimming than they are.

This does not disprove the Aquatic Ape Theory. Nor does a single nail secure a coffin. But it certainly does not inspire confidence in the idea.

Huxley tells me that he plans, someday, to teach me to swim.

Comments

  1. #1 Randy Owens
    January 6, 2013

    “He can get himself to the bottom of a pool as deep as he is tall and easily pick up a ring or some other object….”

    Always a useful job skill for any aspiring troglodytes.

    Also, is ATT a typo for AAT, i.e. Aquatic Ape Theory, or is it something else, which I don’t recognize?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    January 6, 2013

    Aquatic troglodyte theory?

  3. #3 Keith M Ellis
    Kansas City, MO
    January 6, 2013

    My understanding — correct me if I’m mistaken — is that pretty much in every way in which the aquatic ape theory has been seriously examined, it’s fared badly.

    That said, I’d quite like heavily-researched, essentially “proved” evolutionary explanations for two fascinating questions: our relative extreme lack of fur and our relatively (among primates) unusual facility submerged in water.

    Are there good, strong explanations for the former that I’m not aware of? And in the latter case, is the consensus that it’s not unusual enough to be a puzzle with a likely clear solution?

  4. #4 Steven DuBois
    January 6, 2013

    Kenneth Ellis,

    I’m no researcher, and I haven’t studied evolutionary biology extensively, so I’m quite likely wrong, but for what it’s worth:

    I’ve heard and read that one explanation for human hairlessness is due to thermoregulation required for running, which other apes don’t do.
    It makes intuitive sense to me, but I have no idea whether it’s true.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    January 6, 2013

    Hairlessness could be simply due to the fact that a vertically oriented mammal in the tropics can’t cool efficiently. The idea of running being a factor was suggested in the 80s by carrier and more recently re-suggested by Lieberman. It could all be true to some level.

    I don’t know that humans have special underwater abilities. Some humans can hold their breath for longish periods of time, but when you look at humans in relation to all aquatic mammals we’ve got nothing. Comparing us to apes would only be fair if we got some chimps to practice holding their breath from a very young age to see what they could do if they grew up like those people in certain places who have this as part of their culture.

    We may well have better abilities in this regard but there are two things that have to be considered:

    1) Human activity is generally more aerobic than chip activity, so maybe we have slightly enlarged lulngs.

    2) If we do have enlarged lungs it doesn’t show up as far as I know when we compare ape and human organ sizes (though maybe a little, I’m not sure, but certainly not a lot) but what is different is our relative muscle mass. It is very very low, so maybe we have much less minute-to-minute demand on O2 from the lungs for that reason… but…

    3) Our brains are very demanding of O2, which probably counteracts that.

  6. #6 Keith M Ellis
    Kansas City, MO
    January 7, 2013

    Thanks, Greg.

  7. #7 Jeffrey
    Canton
    January 7, 2013

    My 2 cents worth is that as suggested above hairless ness evolved along with persistence hunting. I’m a bit amazed that our muscle mass is relatively low compared to other primates. Makes sense tho since they workout every day as part of their daily lives, and we typically don’t need much muscle mass especially since machines do most of the work for us. What I really find weird is that primates lost the ability to make their own vitamin C. Could it really be so expensive to make that evolution weeded it out, considering how important C is? I guess so….. Another point for Darwin !!!!

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    January 7, 2013

    Vit. C production (not all of it, just some of it … it is used in different systems) did not have to be expensive to go away, it just has to be totally obviated by diet. The cost may have been an issue, but I’m guessing not.

  9. #9 sailor
    January 7, 2013

    The Aquatic theory was always a crock. But the fun of Elaine Morgan’s original book was its take down of the Naked Ape which was hilarious.

  10. #10 anthrosciguy
    January 7, 2013

    A few bits on hair and evolution. First, the AAT/H claim has never really made sense; it’s always been a naive and unsupported speculation based on a naive and faulty analogy — that we’re similar to (usually unnamed) “aquatics”. But our hair characteristics aren’t like those animals at all, and the fact is that we’re extremely dissimilar to any of the hairless aquatic and semiaquatic mammals. It also turns out that hairlessness is a relatively unusual condition for semiaquatic mammals, and even more so when you look at how often it evolved in such mammals. A couple years ago I did a page on my website dealing with that subject: Aquatic and semiaquatic mammals.

    On how and why we evolved the hair characteristics we have, I’ve been an adaptationist as most people are when they start thinking about this, but I’ve realized (thanks to Larry Moran’s constant prodding) that this is something that needs proving beyond just looking at what we think are good reasons for doing “X”. We do find that our body hair is good for efficiency in sweatcooling, due to the simple effect of physics — sweat cools better than if it evaporates closer to the skin. And we see differences between the sexes that suggest sexual selection. But these things being true doesn’t necessarily mean that this is why we are as we are. It could be drift. The helpful effects regarding sweatcooling could be a spandrel. This is not something I accepted easily, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I see the possibility.

    First, we have some idea now about when our body hair changed from studies of lice genetics, and it’s approximately a million and a half years ago (there are some other much later lice dates as well that may show the use of clothing by our ancestors). And my first thought was that this indicated selection, going along with a generally rangier body and much more widely ranging hominids. All suggesting heat tolerance via getting rid of heat better. But it was also, due to brain size increases around the same time, probably when our secondarily altricial infancy popped up. I used to think this clinched the adpatationist scenario, showing the mechanism and the heat business (and at some point sexual selection) as the selection. It’s possible that this is it, but I no longer think it’s a sure thing, because I’ve thought more about drift.

    If our secondarily altricial infancy led to a mosaic of neotenous features (and it did, didn’t it) it could rather easily include hair changes. These hair changes could have nothing to do with selection for them, but rather a side effect of birth, infancy, and bigger brains. The changes in development would cause changes in hormonal control and this could easily affect a big change in hair without actual selection for that specific change, just as a spandrel from our becoming secondarily altricial and resultant (mosaic) neoteny (both our altricial features and our neoteny are mosaic, affecting some features and not others). This could also mimic sexual selection due to sex differences in hormones, a point I didn’t grasp in the past.

    Hair changes are simple and easy in an evolutionary sense. For instance, all the variations in dog’s coats texture and length is due to just three genes, and there are indications that this is also so in mice, cats, and humans. We also see how easy and quickly these things vary by looking at the variation in our own species.

    Bottom line: our hair characteristics could be due to selection, but using the null hypothesis of drift we can easily build a scenario where drift caused these changes, and any helpful effects are a spandrel. So to determine that it is due to selection requires more proof than we have so far, and frankly, more than people seem to be trying to provide (Larry Moran’s basic ongoing rant on the overall subject of drift and selection).

  11. #11 Jeffrey
    OH-
    January 9, 2013

    Makes sense – the ability to lose C was lost with an abundance of citrus fruits etc. for early man to ear. I always assumed a cost had to be involved so this may explain some other similar instances for me. Thanks, Greg

  12. #12 PitPony
    January 10, 2013

    The clue to your scepticism is in your last sentence.
    You do not need anyone to teach you to swim.
    As a 9 year old I started going to the pool with a some other non-swimmer kids. As we got confident in the water the swimming thing just came naturally.

  13. #13 Stephen Munro
    Australia
    January 10, 2013

    Greg, I think it’s interesting – your three year old son can perform tasks that could probably allow him to collect shellfish in relatively shallow waters, and yet you see this as evidence that humans could never have evolved by performing such activities.

    You base this on the fact that since your son has had regular swimming lessons, been taken to the pool regularly by his mother, and enjoyed several days a year by a lake, and he doesn’t yet swim as well as a dolphin, the AAT must be wrong.

    Well, I did some quick calculations, and not counting the half of his life when presumably he’s been sleeping (or at least you and your wife have wanted him to sleep), and allowing two hours every single week of his life for swimming lessons and pool visits, and five hours for seven days of his life every summer, he has spent approx. 3% of his waking time exposed to water, and I guess that’s probably an over estimation. Now, that of course means he’s spent close to 97% of his waking time on a terrestrial substrate. So, my questions to you is, what’s your son like at endurance running? Surely, with close to 100% exposure to terrestrial substrates for his whole waking life, he’d just about be ready to chase down antelopes on the open savannah by now, wouldn’t he?

    But seriously, you say: “Had Amanda and I been aquatic apes, Huxley would not have survived to this ripe old age.” But I really don’t understand this statement. Why wouldn’t you and your wife be able to look after your son on a tropical beach? Surely while you or Amanda were foraging for food in the shallows or along the beach, the other could be minding Huxley, and even when he went into the water you or your wife could surely be there to make sure he didn’t get into trouble, couldn’t you? And if you did live 100% of the time on a tropical beach, rather than the 3% of time he’s been exposed to water as a modern child, perhaps Huxley would have spent closer to 50% (perhaps even more?) time in the water, and since there is evidence that Homo erectus (according to the comparative data, probably the most aquatic hominin: google, e.g., pachyosteosclerosis archaic Homo), developed significantly more quickly than Homo sapiens, there’s a good chance that Huxley would have been significantly more advanced physically at this age than he is as a modern child, and therefore would have been even more adept in terms of floating, swimming and diving.

    In short, I don’t see any reason why your son’s inability to swim like a dolphin at age three after being exposed to water for about 3% of his waking life, is a nail in the coffin of the idea that human ancestors once foraged part time in relatively shallow waters along tropical beaches for sessile and slow moving foods such as shellfish.

    The aquatic theory need not be as radical or extreme as you imagine. Regular part-time foraging in relatively shallow waters for foods that don’t run or swim away. I’m sure even Huxley can see the logic in this.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    January 10, 2013

    Stephen, yes, I did think of that and you are right that a true aquatic family would have the little one in the water all the time. Nonetheless, he didn’t show the kind of innate skill I would expect if there was a behavioral fingerprint from an aquatic ancestry. Do note that I pointed out that this does not disprove AAT, but it does fail to support it.

    I’m not actually imagining the AAT as being anything in particular. I’m going off of how it has been characterized by its supporters.

    I do think that if the AAT suggests that humans need water to drink and that some populations also foraged for aquatic food or resources that tend to be riverine, it isn’t in any way a departure from “non AAT” thinking.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    January 10, 2013

    We are hoping, by the way, that Huxley will grow up to be a great swimmer so we can live off his endorsements following his Gold Medal wins. When that happens, he’ll probably enjoy looking back at this conversation!

  16. #16 anthrosciguy
    January 12, 2013

    Note that AAT/H proponent Munro engages in extremely blatant strawmanning while simultaneously falsely accusing others of it . Sadly, in my experience this is normal from kost of the idea’s proponents.

    Also note that it’s certain ly true that most human three year olds “can perform tasks that could probably allow him to collect shellfish in relatively shallow waters” since this is called “walking (or even crawling will do it). Most shellfish collection isn’t done in shallow waters at all, but on shorelines near them. How this then provides selection for convergent evolution to gain us (supposedly) the characteristics of cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenia is unexplainable.

  17. #17 Stephen Munro
    January 12, 2013

    I sincerely hope so, Greg, on both counts :-)

  18. #18 Stephen Munro
    January 12, 2013

    :-) No, anthrosciguy, how ‘drift’ explains characteristics of cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenia is unexplainable.

  19. #19 Radical Rodent
    January 13, 2013

    By the time I was three, I could “swim like a fish” (according to my mother, but she may have been biased). We lived on a tropical coastline, so I was in the sea if not daily, certainly for several hours a week. I had no fear of water, and was quite competent at getting about, mostly underwater, as I had yet to learn the techniques. It has been shown that new-born babies have no fear of water, and know to hold their breath underwater; in other words, human DO have an inherent ability to swim (granted, not as well as dolphins – but they do have a design advantage).

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    January 13, 2013

    Radical, the newborn behaviors of humans in water is the same for mammals generally.

  21. #21 somitcw
    January 13, 2013

    Greg Laden, I can’t comment about all mammals but our three closes relatives are bonobo, chimpanzee, and gorilla.
    They don’t swim. They don’t have human-like breath control.
    They don’t have a fat layer that allows them to float.
    If you drop any in a pool, they sink like a stone.
    The Congo river has kept bonobos and chimpanzees apart for hundreds of thousands or millions of years.
    Unlike them, humans can swim seconds after birth.

  22. #22 Radical Rodent
    January 14, 2013

    I do enjoy learning new things, even if it shows that what I thought I knew was wrong.

  23. #23 marc verhaegen
    January 14, 2013

    Some comments in a hurry:
    – Human newborns in & outside the water behave very differently from most other mammals, eg, google “Dirk Meijers Homo litoralis” (Dirk is one the speakers at our conference in London May 8-10, see link below). Moreover, human premature newborns have a “vernix caseosa (google), which is elsewhere only seen in common seal pups. Moreover, human newborns have “renculi” (google), which are typically seen in aquatic mammals. Etc.
    – Gorillas can swim very well (at the surface), eg, google “gorilla Mbeli bai” or “gorilla Ndoki bai” or so. Early hominoids were “aquarboreal” (google), ie, they lived in flooded/swamp/mangrove/coastal/gallery forests, where they spent part of their time in the branches & part in the water, but they were predom.surface-swimmers (lowland gorillas & sometimes chimps still feed on floating vegetation), whereas our Pleistocene ancestors were excellent divers for bottom foods, when they dispersed along the coasts (& from there along rivers) to different continents & even islands.
    – Fat layers are not for floating, but rather for thermo-insulation in medium-sized non-tropical mammals. In fact, they hinder diving in littoral mammals (therefor slow & shallow divers need heavy skeletons to descend & to stay below, just like human divers (after we lost this “pachyosteosclerosis” (google)) often carry weights.
    – I’ll soon send here a brief but +-complete picture of ape & human evolution IMO.
    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/AAT
    Human Evolution Past, Present & Future
    Anthropological, Medical & Nutritional Considerations. London May 2013.
    http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/education/education-conference-centre/study-days-conferences/pages/2013-evolution.aspx
    Was Man more aquatic in the past?
    http://www.benthamscience.com/ebooks/9781608052448/index.htm

  24. #24 somitcw
    January 14, 2013

    Marc Verhaegen, I could not find your reference to a gorilla swimming but suspect that it is just a definition difference.
    Chimpanzees love to soak in the river but they stay next to the shore and hold onto branches so they don’t drown. Just like the Congo river that has kept chimpanzees and bonobos separated for possibly one or two million years, it has also kept gorillas on the chimpanzee side of the river. Zoos use moats to enclose gorillas and chimpanzees and it appears to work well. Human fat is lighter than chimpanzee muscle and bone so humans are less likely to drown.
    The only great ape that normally swims is human. Well there was one island great ape in Borneo or Sumatra that was seen swimming but that wasn’t a bonobo, chimpanzee, or gorilla. It also had some breath control and air sacs.

  25. #25 Calli Arcale
    January 15, 2013

    somitcw:

    They don’t have a fat layer that allows them to float.
    If you drop any in a pool, they sink like a stone.

    Humans do too, unless they have been taught to swim. You have to be pretty obese for the fat layer to make much of a difference; it’s really your *lungs* that provide the most buoyancy. So if you didn’t get a good breath before going under, bye-bye…..

    I trained as a lifeguard; they teach you just how shockingly fast drowning happens, even in people who *do* know how to swim, and that it is completely unlike what you see in the movies. Humans do have a drowning reflex. It is extremely powerful, and also extraordinarily counterproductive (being mostly “flail about to try to find something to climb”), so I don’t think there could’ve been much evolutionary pressure to develop a good drowning reflex.

    marc:

    Fat layers are not for floating, but rather for thermo-insulation in medium-sized non-tropical mammals. In fact, they hinder diving in littoral mammals (therefor slow & shallow divers need heavy skeletons to descend & to stay below, just like human divers (after we lost this “pachyosteosclerosis” (google)) often carry weights.

    Divers wear weight belts because they are wearing wetsuits, which are very buoyant. It’s very hard to dive while wearing one. Meanwhile, human fat layers do not offer much insulation — which brings us to why the divers are wearing those wetsuits. It’s not just because they look snazzy. It’s because it’s cold down there.

  26. #26 hobgot
    January 15, 2013

    Firstly I think that humans are aquatic apes, because we are easily the most aquatic of apes. However I also think it highly probable that we are aquatic because we were bipedal and not the other way around.

  27. #27 marc verhaegen
    January 15, 2013

    I not necessarily disagree, Calli, only a few comments:
    – Japanese shellfish divers (Ama) held weights during descent (with a helper in a boat), but did’t wear wetsuits (eg, Hong & Rahn May 1967 Scient Amer).
    – Human SC does offer a lot of insulation, esp.in trained swimmers (eg, Pugh & Edholm 1955 Lancet 6893:761-8).
    – Our littoral ancestors (before the sapiens LCA) probably lived at warmer coasts, eg, Red Sea or Ind.Ocean (but Neandertals lived at more temperate seas & rivers).

  28. #28 somitcw
    January 15, 2013

    Calli Arcale, You posted:
    >somitcw:
    >>They don’t have a fat layer that allows them to float.
    >>If you drop any in a pool, they sink like a stone.
    >Humans do too, unless they have been taught to swim.
    >You have to be pretty obese for the fat layer to make
    >much of a difference; it’s really your *lungs* that provide
    >the most buoyancy. So if you didn’t get a good breath
    >before going under, bye-bye…..

    I have always been able to lay back, cross my arms, and float for as long as I felt like. Perhaps I could try an exhale enough to clear my lungs to sink? I have normal weight and breath normally to float.

    If I needed to swim twenty feet down quickly, carrying a stone or pulling on a rope would be much faster than using my arms and legs for propulsion so would give me more time down there. Japanese divers knew what they were doing.

    If none of our ancestors were littoral, when did we morph to become so well adapted to water? Did we get the breath control, floating ability, natural swimming muscle coordination, nose shape, and other adaptations at the same time or separate? Could it all be convergent evolution to become aquatic?

  29. #29 anthrosciguy
    January 17, 2013

    “No, anthrosciguy, how ‘drift’ explains characteristics of cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenia is unexplainable.”

    Of course I said nothing of the sort. Yet another case where Munro strawman’s another’s comments while falsely claiming AAT/H views are being strawmanned.

  30. #30 OHSU
    USA
    January 18, 2013

    Since this is a science blog, let’s talk about the scientific method a little.

    In its most common form, the AAT is adaptationist and environmentally deterministic. In other words, it proposes that various human features are specific adaptations to a specific environment.

    The null hypothesis for any adaptationist hypothesis must necessarily be exaptation. In other words, if you want to test the idea that feature X is an adaptation, you have to generate an experiment to test and falsify the idea that feature X is just an evolutionary spandrel.

    And the null hypothesis for a proposal of a specific environment would be that the feature is not specific to that environment. In other words, the null for the hypothesis of aquaticism would be that the proposed feature are actually terrestrial adapations.

    No AAT proponent has ever shown the tiniest hint of grasping the scientific method or how to go about providing evidence for their fantasy. Specifically, none has ever shown any understanding of null hypotheses or falsification.

    Like all good pseudoscientists, their arguments are full of methdological flaws, psycological biases, and circular reasoning. Most obviously, they rely heavily on confirmation rather than refutation. Specifically:

    — Many of their assertions do not admit the logical possibility that they can be shown to be false.
    — And many AAT proponents take the angle that any of their claims that can’t be shown to be false must be accepted as true.
    — Many of their “predictions” are things that the theory doesn’t logically predict.
    — Proponents rely on “testimonials”, or untestable first-hand anecdotes or personal experiences.
    — Proponents engage in selection bias; presenting only details that seem to support their claims and completely ignoring the vast majority of the evidence (such as the entire fossil record) which doesn’t support their claims.

    All of their arguments boil down to:

    1) Feature X looks aquatic to me. Therefore it is.
    2) I can imagine scenarios in which feature X might have evolved for aquaticism. Therefore it did.
    3) You can’t prove that feature X isn’t aquatic. Therefore it is.

    One of the most obvious ways in which the AAT is pseudoscience is the circularity of its argumentation:

    “Humans swim better than chimps because we went through an aquatic phase. Evidence that humans went through an aquatic phase is that we swim better than chimps.”

    It never gets any more sophisticated than that.

  31. #31 Stephen Munro
    January 18, 2013

    OHSU, you say:

    “And the null hypothesis for a proposal of a specific environment would be that the feature is not specific to that environment. In other words, the null for the hypothesis of aquaticism would be that the proposed feature are [sic] actually terrestrial adapations.”

    My question to you is why should the null be terrestrial? Isn’t this being equally “adaptationist and environmentally deterministic”?

  32. #32 Stephen Munro
    January 18, 2013

    Sorry anthrosciguy, when you said “Bottom line: our hair characteristics could be due to selection, but using the null hypothesis of drift we can easily build a scenario where drift caused these changes, and any helpful effects are a spandrel.” I assumed you were advocating a scenario where drift caused our nakedness (a trait we share to a certain degree with some, but by no means all, aquatic mammals).

    You say drift may have caused the change, OHSU says the null hypothesis should be terrestrial, AAT proponents say water is a better explanation. Perhaps we’re all wrong, but only one model, as far as I can see, is backed by any comparative data. In other words, while the AAT uses the scientific method (Hardy OBSERVED that humans had a combination of traits similar to certain mammals that spend considerable time in the water – more subcutaneous fat and lack of a functional fur covering – and asked if human ancestors may have also spent more time in the water), the idea that drift caused the changes by its very nature ignores the comparative data, and the terrestrial model is even less supported (no fully terrestrial mammals are fat and naked to my knowledge).

    I’m not concerned that you disagree with the part-time underwater foraging model, anthrosciguy and OHSU, but if you want to put forward alternatives such as drift or terrestrialism, at least put forward some supporting evidence to back your arguments up.

  33. #33 somitcw
    January 18, 2013

    OHSU, I am adapted to water. I can swim faster, swim longer, swim deeper, float longer, and hold my breath longer than any non-human great ape on the planet. Sixty years ago I could do the same. I’m not a good swimmer compared to most other humans.
    How did I become so well adapted to water?
    Was it because:
    1. All of my ancestors were blocked from getting near water?
    2. Because some ancestors did have access to water?
    3. For some other reason that is unknown at this time?
    I cannot prove that the theory about how we became more aquatic than other great apes is the most reasonable speculation or not. If it is not a reasonable theory, is there a rival theory that would explain it? I’m not a scientist so please keep the description simple.

  34. #34 Chak
    January 20, 2013

    Interesting post on your first-hand observations. I also wonder why we need so much training (I am a poor swimmer), while other mammals can do that instinctively? Doesn’t it contradict the very premise of the AAH?
    But I think comparing to dolphins is unfair (I know you said that jokingly), that’s like saying that sea otters don’t swim as good as dolphins and thus cannot be considered aquatic. Also saying something “happens in mammals generally” is only part of the story.

    Here are the facts about our swimming / diving abilities as I know.

    – Most mammals (e.g. monkeys, dogs) can swim instinctively because when afloat, their head is already above the water surface. Apes, due to anatomical changes for bipedality, have no such advantage, and the logical consequence is to drown. So we are relatively poor swimmers (need much training) not because we are humans, but because we are apes.

    – Comparing to other apes, we are already good swimmers. There are reports of gorillas and orangutans swim in their natural habitats, chimps trained to dive in a pool to retrieve stuffs at the bottom (a major breakthrough!), but that’s nothing compared to humans, who can swim across the English Channel and free-dive to the depth of abyss.

    – We are excellent divers even among the aquatic mammals. With the physiology equipped, an average human can dive down to 20m (ask any one in a coastal nomadic tribe), and some dedicated free-divers can descend to 100m, all done without any equipment. Can you imagine that with a chimp or a dog?

    – Human infants (up to 6 months old) are protected by a reflex that allow them to dive easily – hold their breath in water, open the eyes, and move forward with rhythmic movements. Chimp babies have this reflex too, but only last for like 10 days. After this period, human babies will switch to another reflex that turns their body upward and their face above water to breath, this is not observed in other mammals (except otters, perhaps). These reflexes altogether (plus water birth) enable us to learn swimming / diving since the very moment of birth.

    – The so-called diving reflexes (plural) actually have 3 components: (1) bradycardia (slowing of heartbeat) when immersed in water, (2) peripheral vasoconstriction (restricted blood flow to limbs) in deeper water, and (3) blood shift (plasma fill in cavities) in extremely deep dives. So far (2) and (3) are only observed in aquatic mammals, and human. (1) does exist in all mammals, but human is in the range of otters and beavers. (Don’t be fooled by Jim Moore, he likes to say “all mammals have diving reflex”, and he meant bradycardia).

    Except Darwinian natural selection and adaptation, I can’t think of other logical reasons for these.

  35. #35 somitcw
    January 21, 2013

    Chak, are you changing the question from:
    “how did humans gain aquatic abilities without water access”
    to:
    “how did humans retain aquatic abilities without water access while all non-human great apes lost most of their aquatic abilities even though they lived on islands like Sumatra or Borneo or on either side of the Congo river and some love soaking and playing in the water”
    or:
    “a combination of both”?
    It takes me a few seconds to get up from a chair but I can probably out-swim most monkeys and most dogs too.
    Humans are adapted to a littoral environment. Whether it started three millions years ago or thirty million years ago, I couldn’t tell you. If the adaptation or trait retention occurred because some of our ancestors lived in the desert, rain forest, or near water, I have my suspicion but I can’t prove either way. If not what I suspect, what is a rival theory?

  36. #36 Algis Kuliukas
    Perth, Australia
    January 21, 2013

    Interesting discussion.
    Chak has made the key point, in my opinion. Although the ape clade is peculiar in being comparatively poor at swimming (e.g. Wind 1976), there can be little doubt that the evidence suggests that of the ape clade, the odd species called Homo sapiens is the best of that group at that form of locomotion. So how might this phylogeny be explained?
    Three ways, to my mind.
    1) It could be the result of a spandrel-like exaptation.
    2) Random genetic drift.
    3) The result of some natural selection.
    On 1) several have been suggested, most notably as a consequence of our bipedality, or as a consequence of our improved intelligence. These are as much “just so” stories as any other and in addition can be accused of special pleading and convenience. What other mammal has become good at swimming as a consequence of its bipedality?
    On 2) if this trait were purly a matter of drift, how come humans have so many other traits, different from the chimps and gorillas, which are also all potentially explicable in terms of selection from wading, swimming and diving? Drift might be the null hypothesis, but it can easily be rejected on this basis.
    3) Makes most sense as long as one is careful not to “straw man” the argument to dolphin-like proportions. Run any population genetics simulator (e.g. http://evolution.gs.washington.edu/popgen/popg.html) andd you’ll soon see that even very slight regimes of selection can and do cause fixation of alleles in very short evolutionary timescales.
    If one considers Stephen Munro’s scenario (above) and postulates a population living on the coast, one need not invoke very much swimming in their locomotor repertoire at all in order to arrive at a regime of selection that would quickly have a profound effect on the phenotype.
    Hardy merely asked “Was Man More Aquatic in the Past?” but few seem to have wondered “… and if so, how MUCH more?” The answer, it turns out, is not much at all.

    Algis Kuliukas

    Wind, J. Human Drowning: phylogenetic origin. Journal of Human Evolution 5:349-363, (1976).

  37. #37 somitcw
    January 22, 2013

    The article main questions have not been answered.
    Has the aquatic ape theory being nailed into a coffin?
    My list below implies that the nail is premature until some other explanations are picked. There could be a combination of factors influencing genetic selection or single ones like what was used to make a list.

    Humans have thin hair because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. Sexual selection.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. Naked bodies might communicated better.
    4. Wearing clothes in colder environments stifled hair.
    5. …

    Humans control breathing because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. To vocalize better.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. To be able to eat quicker.
    4. …

    Humans have subcutaneous fat because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. Living in colder climates.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. For better protection from injuries.
    4. Sexual selection.
    5. …

    Humans are bipeds because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. Seeing over tall grass.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. Efficient travelling like Bonobos do on long trips.
    4. Walking on tree limbs like Orangutans.
    5. Wading like Gorillas.
    6. Carrying objects a few steps like Chimpanzees.
    7. Retained from the Great Ape last common ancestor.
    8. …

    Humans children instinctively swim because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. Instinct was retained from before the Great Ape last common ancestor.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. Children can’t swim without a swimming “instructor”.
    4. …

    Humans swim deep in water because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    Humans swimming speed because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    Humans swimming duration because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. Genetic drift convergent evolution coincidence.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. Other adaptation gave synergy.
    4. …

    Humans nose shapes are because of genetic selection reinforced by:
    1. Held humidity to be able to live in the desert.
    2. Some human ancestors went through a littoral phase.
    3. Preheats air for sinuses and lungs in colder climates.
    4. …

    There are many other human traits that could be related to littoral and aquatic-like differences between humans and other great apes.

  38. #38 Chak
    January 23, 2013

    Algis: Drift is out of the question here. It’s the null hypothesis only for neutral traits “invisible” from selection forces, like the color of iris, the loopiness of fingerprints, or non-coding regions in DNA. Otherwise natural selection is the default answer. I think Darwin will agree on this!
    The idea of spandrel is compatible with the ideas, most “aquatic” features may have been serving other purposes, or already there in the mammalian LCA, but in human they’re enhanced and cooperated to make underwater foraging possible.
    There is also 4) Sexual selection. It’s like “because the females like this” and can’t quite explain WHY.

    Somit: Nice list of alternatives… but I think we need more details on every point 2:
    Thin hair — Naked skin makes a *smooth surface* that lower the energy in water locomotion (same principle for both hairless and furry aquatics)
    Breath control — Better planning of inhalation between dives
    Subcutaneous fat — Streamlined body and keep warm in water (by means of insulation and lower surface:volume ratio)
    Biped — Early hominids foraged in shallow water, later diving favor a straight body plan
    Children swim/dive instinctively — Reflexes to avoid infant drowning before they can learn the real skillz
    Speed/duration/depth in swimming and diving — Selected for foraging in coastal area
    Nose shape — Prevent water splash in

    If the AAT has ever been nailed into a coffin, it was due to ideological and social disagreement (John Hawks said something like this), not because of evidence.

  39. #39 Algis Kuliukas
    Perth, Australia
    January 24, 2013

    Chak. Agreed. Sexual selection is often offered when nothing better can be considered but in a sense everything could be explained as sexual selection in the sense that having two eyes, ears, a nose and mouth, rather than not, is proabably in one’s favour when hoping to attract a mate. It’s only where there is clear sexual differentiation where a good case for sexual selection could be made. Even there, they are not necessarily incompatible with other (e.g. waterside) factors.

  40. #40 somitcw
    January 25, 2013

    By “sexual selection”, I was thinking in the other direction. Males would find well rounded and therefor healthy females more worth pursuing and maintenance than either females with no fat showing or females with excessive fat showing. Fat under the skin with none on internal organs would be selected for. I do understand that “sexual selection” and “healthy, visual, and beauty selection” have little meaning but none of my points were meant to be complete descriptions.

  41. #41 Travis P Mason
    United States
    August 19, 2013

    We have a descended larynx, a feature common among aquatic animals but not apes.”

  42. #43 mark jacobs
    london uk
    January 8, 2014

    Greg, why are human newborn infants better at floating than newborn chimps? Why do human babies have so much puppy fat? It is as if they were supposed to be in water from birth! In fact, many women report water-births as being less traumatic for all concerned! Mmmmmm, AAT vs Savannah, and AAT wins every time!

  43. #44 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2014

    That is an anecdotal observation as far as I know. No one has compared forager babies with wild chimp babies in this regard. Many things have been said about apes with water, but there isn’t much good data.

    More interesting is this: For years the AAT relied in part the idea that humans swim and apes don’t even spend time in water. Then, a group of gorillas was found to spend a lot of time in the water. The AAT supporters than said, “See, the apes spend a lot of time in water therefore we are correct.”

    This is why the AAT is mainly an untestable construct designed to pedal in any direction depending on current needs.

    Mammals that are born in water have a number of features … consistently, as in every one of them … of their neurobiology. Humans don’t have that.

  44. #45 Stephen Munro
    January 17, 2014

    Hi Greg, it may be true that Elaine Morgan saw the (then assumed) non-aquatic activity of apes as supporting her version of the AAT: Morgan’s model was, after all, very much one of apes being non-aquatic, and human ancestors after the split being more aquatic, thus explaining many of the differences of apes and humans. But it’s a bit disingenuous in my opinion to say that all AAT proponents shared this view.

    As you are no doubt aware (see the guest blog you posted twelve months ago), Marc Verhaegen has long advocated a scenario which is not so black and white. In his opinion early apes, including the ancestors of gibbons, chimps, gorillas and orang-utans as well as humans, were ‘aquarboreal’: i.e., they spent some time both in water and in the trees, thus explaining, in apes as opposed to monkeys, tail loss, broader body build, more orthograde posture, more mobile shoulders, and in great apes at least, greater body size and lack of underfur, as well as the fact that the most densely populated areas of the world today for orang-utans and gorillas are swamp forests. The fact that orang-utans can swim and gorillas spend time feeding in swamp forests today fits well with this scenario.

    But it appears the aquatic abilities of orang-utans and other apes are nowhere near as well developed as those of humans. No ape has ever been recorded floating on its back, or propelling itself through the water on its back as humans are capable of as far as I know, nor has any ape been observed diving to the depths that humans can, holding their breath for as long, or swimming in the variety of ways that humans can (butterfly, side-stroke, over arm, underwater dolphin kick), etc. Along with human nakedness, subcutaneous fat, external nose, stream-lined body, large brain, tool use (which are shared to some degree with some aquatic or semi aquatic species), this suggests that after the split with apes, humans spent more time in the water than their earlier ape ancestors, probably foraging for slow moving foods such as shell-fish.

    The extraordinarily and unexpectedly heavy bones of Homo erectus are, of course, the smoking gun in this regard. Unless someone has a better evolutionary explanation, the most parsimonious explanation for these heavy bones is that they served a similar function as they do in other heavy boned mammals such as dugongs and walruses: allowing them to more efficiently descend and ascend in water (in other words to be the same density as the surrounding water), to forage for immobile foods (in their case sea grass and invertebrates respectively). The long, low brain-case, wide pelvis, shorter legs and wider femoral bones of Homo erectus all support the idea that these early humans were spending at least part of their time diving slowly in relatively shallow waters for shellfish. This is hardly an earth shattering proposal as many human populations gather shellfish by diving slowly in relatively shallow waters today.

    This scenario does not preclude terrestrial activities such as hunting, gathering and scavenging, although the ‘long-distance running over open plains in the midday sun’ scenario for Homo erectus, either to run antelopes to exhaustion or to out-compete dogs and hyenas in reaching scavengable carcasses first, I hope we can all agree is highly unlikely.

    Note that Homo sapiens is the true terrestrial human: longer legs, more gracile body build (i.e, lighter!) and a narrower pelvis with shorter femoral necks, all mean our species is far superior in terms of terrestrial mobility and running than Homo erectus.

    Happy to hear of a scenario you believe better explains the differences we see in apes compared to monkeys, the heavy bones and other features we see in Homo erectus, and the differences we see in Homo sapiens not only compared to apes and other terrestrial/savanna species (nakedness, large brain, subcutaneous fat), but Homo erectus and other ‘archaic’ Homo populations (lighter build, longer legs etc.).

    Or do you believe that all models are “untestable construct[s] designed to pedal in any direction depending on current needs”?

    With all best regards,

    Stephen

    Google:
    “Laden Verhaegen misconceptions”
    “econiche Homo”
    “pachyosteosclerosis archaic Homo”
    “aquarboreal ancestors”

  45. #46 Greg Laden
    January 18, 2014

    “But it’s a bit disingenuous in my opinion to say that all AAT proponents shared this view.”

    I actually don’t think they do, and that is one dimension of the problem… variation across proponents as to what the AAT is. The second dimension is variation over time. Both of these arise because the idea has ended up being constructed to be unfalsifiable. And, just confusing and having a gish-gallop feel to it. If a given part of the AAT isn’t held down and a scredriver driven through its brain every time the entire thing comes up, that one idea gets resurrected as a “yeah, but” argument.

    All of the apish morphological features you mention are easily explained as a shift to a larger body more ground dwelling version of an arboreal primate.

    A huge problem with AAT is that the majority of early hominid fossils from 4.something to 1.something years ago occur no where near any kind of body of water for them to have sloshed around in.

  46. #47 phillydoug
    January 18, 2014

    Greg,

    I got no dog in this hunt, I just need a quick translation for a dialect I’m not familiar with:

    ‘a gish-gallop feel’.

    People from Philadelphia don’t talk like that, so it threw me.

  47. #48 Greg Laden
    January 18, 2014

    The Gish Gallop is a technique developed by Duane Gish to debate. You get a laundry list of points and keep making them. If the opposition parries against one of your points you just brig up the other points. I talk about the technique here, though I don’t mention the term: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/10/02/pro-tip-for-science-denialist-how-to-win-a-debate-with-a-scientist/

  48. #49 Stephen Munro
    January 19, 2014

    Hi Greg, you’re right, there are a number of different ideas on how a water based model might play out, and the ideas have changed over the years, but this could surely be a criticism of any field of study, no?

    Anyway, I’m interested in discussing the ideas put forward by Verhaegen, which you published in a guest blog last year, and which have been further developed into a paper that has recently been published in the journal ‘Human Evolution’, in a special edition on the proceedings of the conference held in London in May last year, attended by Don Johanson, Jeffrey Laitman and David Attenborough amongst others (I’ll send you a PDF).

    Just a few points about your post above. First, you say “All of the apish morphological features you mention are easily explained as a shift to a larger body more ground dwelling version of an arboreal primate.” Interestingly, this was Elaine Morgan’s position too as far as I recall in conversations she had on this with Marc (she never really published anything on ape evolution as far as I know). My question is, why is this model less of “an untestable construct designed to pedal in any direction depending on current needs”?

    Specifically, what evidence is their supporting the assertion that a more orthograde body posture (upright), more mobile shoulders, a loss of tail and a broader body are adaptations to a more ground dwelling lifestyle in which a larger body is selected for? Certainly the comparative data are not in agreement here (baboons are less orthograde, no broad body or mobile shoulder joints, no tail loss). Are you suggesting gibbons evolved from a more ground dwelling, large bodied ancestor? And how would such a scenario be falsified?

    Or, is the ground dwelling model preferable and acceptable merely because it does not involve water?

    You do not offer an explanation for the differences we see when comparing Homo sapiens to Homo erectus, or Homo sapiens to other terrestrial/savanna mammals/primates. Is this because you don’t have a preferred model, or is your position that all scenarios exploring the evolution of Homo sapiens are “untestable construct[s] designed to pedal in any direction depending on current needs”?

    I ask this because, although it is clear you have strong objections to the ‘AAT’, I think your readers deserve to know what your preferred model is on human evolution if you have one, what evidence there is for it, and why it isn’t just an ”untestable construct”.

    Secondly, the AAT (or littoral model that Verhaegen advocates) of course has no problem with where fossils are found and their location to water and edible shellfish resources. As we already discussed, archaic Homo species are always found near large bodies of permanent water, and even though the collection and recording of molluscs is not always a priority for palaeoanthropologists, there nevertheless seems to be a strong association between archaic Homo (or ‘erectine grade’ Homo) and edible bivalves, including marine bivalves. This is not the case for all australopithecine sites, it is true, but this is only a problem for Morgan’s version of the AAT, not Verhaegen’s littoral model.

    By all means, Greg, criticise the ‘classic’ version of the AAT proposed by Morgan, because I’d agree some (minor) parts of this were probably off the mark. But also recognise that Verhaegen has made the same criticisms, and he has also developed a model that, rather than being a ‘gish-gallop’ laundry list of points, is comprehensive, backed by numerous lines of evidence, supported by a plethora of up to date ‘mainstream’ references, and available to anybody who is interested. If you find a point in Marc’s model you don’t agree with, ask Marc about it, he’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you I have no doubt. Same goes for your readers. Please don’t write off everything he has put forward because Elaine Morgan once said this, or some other AAT proponent once said that.

    It needn’t and shouldn’t be a ‘water bad’-‘terrestrial good’ debate or vice versa. We all surely just want to better understand how humans evolved, regardless of whether this was at the coast, by a river, on the savanna, or a combination of these as seems most likely, don’t we?

  49. #50 Greg Laden
    January 19, 2014

    “Specifically, what evidence is their supporting the assertion that a more orthograde body posture (upright), more mobile shoulders, a loss of tail and a broader body are adaptations to a more ground dwelling lifestyle in which a larger body is selected for? Certainly the comparative data are not in agreement here (baboons are less orthograde, no broad body or mobile shoulder joints, no tail loss). Are you suggesting gibbons evolved from a more ground dwelling, large bodied ancestor? And how would such a scenario be falsified?”

    Baboons are monkeys and their immediate ancestors were monkeys. Also, they are well adapted for ground locomotion in a number of ways. By the way, the larger group of “baboons” includes long and short tail animals, with the long tail animals being very arboreal (various mangabies) and the ground dwelling ones having shorter and less involved tails. Same with macaques, so the tail going away with ground dwelling is verified elsewhere.

    The reason this set of adaptations works well with the apes is because those are the adaptations apes have and ground dwelling is what apes do (more of) The very arboreal apes that are small, gibbons and siamangs, likely evolved from a larger ancestor, and their morphology is more monkey like. Apes are hard because, among the great apes, there is a very high level of disparity and a very low level of diversity. But an aquatic phase is not necessary to explain them.

    “Or, is the ground dwelling model preferable and acceptable merely because it does not involve water?”

    Exactly. It only involves reference to ground dwelling, which is whatr they do, not water, or any other thing they don’t do!

    “You do not offer an explanation for the differences we see when comparing Homo sapiens to Homo erectus, or Homo sapiens to other terrestrial/savanna mammals/primates. Is this because you don’t have a preferred model, or is your position that all scenarios exploring the evolution of Homo sapiens are “untestable construct[s] designed to pedal in any direction depending on current needs”?”

    It is true that I did not offer these explanations in this blog post or in any particular comment. For the most part there are very few differences between H. erectus and all the other members of Homo. Humans are more gracile. The difference between humans and other ground dwelling mammals are mostly phylogenetic. I.e, humans are not antelopes.

    ” I think your readers deserve to know what your preferred model is on human evolution if you have one”

    I don’t have one. There isn’t one. One is rarely the number for these sorts of things!

    “Secondly, the AAT (or littoral model that Verhaegen advocates) of course has no problem with where fossils are found and their location to water and edible shellfish resources. As we already discussed, archaic Homo species are always found near large bodies of permanent water, and even though the collection and recording of molluscs is not always a priority for palaeoanthropologists, there nevertheless seems to be a strong association between archaic Homo (or ‘erectine grade’ Homo) and edible bivalves, including marine bivalves. This is not the case for all australopithecine sites, it is true, but this is only a problem for Morgan’s version of the AAT, not Verhaegen’s littoral model.”

    The data just don’t fit that. First, this is the gish gallop thing going on; A link between early hominids and aquatic habitats was essential to this model. That link goes away the second you know where the fossils are. Now the link is not important but it is still there for archaic homo and erectus. But one of the hallmarks of erectus is that it is found in a diversity of habitats, yes, near rivers when they are there but in a much wider range of areas. If littoral or riverine regions are visited seasonally by a small percentage of a larger population most of which don’t go near rivers, and the rivers are perennial, would that be enough riverine contact to have these hominids be “littoral” or “aquatic” or whatever? If no, then the hypotheses is weak. If so than the hypothesis is weakly formulated.

    “By all means, Greg, criticise the ‘classic’ version of the AAT proposed by Morgan, because I’d agree some (minor) parts of this were probably off the mark”

    There it is again. It is fully off the mark. Not minor parts. But you are willing to selectively defend some parts and not others depending on the variables of the conversation, as oppose to the data. The classic version is dead. I’ve been watching the Walking Dead lately and I can see why the Zombie thing is attractive, but it won’t wash here.

    ” If you find a point in Marc’s model you don’t agree with, ask Marc about it, he’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you I have no doubt. Same goes for your readers. Please don’t write off everything he has put forward because Elaine Morgan once said this, or some other AAT proponent once said that.”

    Absolutely, that was the point of asking Marc to write the piece on this blog. Eventually I will write a full response. I’ve been very busy, and I think this conversation is going on very well without me doing that at the moment. But I will do that.

    “It needn’t and shouldn’t be a ‘water bad’-‘terrestrial good’ debate or vice versa.”

    Hominids require water to survive. That has never been in question. There is no “new” model of human evolution that adds that in. It has always been there. The most stripped down possible model of the “littoral” hypothesis is probably close to what every one has been thinking, but then, it isn’t really a thing.

  50. #51 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    January 19, 2014

    Thanks, Stephen (I agree with everything you say, of course :-)).

    There’s no doubt H.erectus & other archaic Homo populations (had) spread to different continents following the coasts & later rivers, rather than running over open plains or savannas as many popular & some “scientific” views of human evolution still claim.
    We disproved “endurance running Homo” in table 4 of google “econiche Homo”.

    Our littoral theory (coastal dispersal of archaic Homo) is different from the ideas of
    -Elaine (“it” happened c 6 Ma),
    -prof.Niemitz,
    -Algis Kuliukas (“it” began with bipedal wading),
    -Renato Bender,
    -mermaids,
    -etc.

    I expect that everyone who says I’m wrong at least has read my recent paper in Hum.Evol.28:237-266, 2013
    “The aquatic ape evolves:
    common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”

    Google
    -Laden Verhaegen misconceptions
    -econiche Homo
    -pachyosteosclerosis archaic Homo”
    or contact me at m_verhaegen at skynet.be.

  51. #52 Greg Laden
    January 19, 2014

    “There’s no doubt…”

    Haha.

    There is doubt about most things in human evolution, at the level of detail we are addressing.

  52. #53 Stephen Munro
    January 19, 2014

    Greg,
    you wrote: “Baboons are monkeys and their immediate ancestors were monkeys. Also, they are well adapted for ground locomotion in a number of ways. By the way, the larger group of “baboons” includes long and short tail animals, with the long tail animals being very arboreal (various mangabies) and the ground dwelling ones having shorter and less involved tails. Same with macaques, so the tail going away with ground dwelling is verified elsewhere.”

    But we’re not talking about short tails here, we’re talking about complete tail loss. In no other primate apart from apes has the tail “gone away” as you put it. Even short tails serve a function. In apes it no longer did. Why? The aquarboreal model provides a possible answer. But it also explains the more vertical posture, the opposite of what we see in baboons, the broader body, more mobile shoulders. How does the alternative ‘ground dwelling’ model explain these?

    Also, gorillas do feed in swamps. Orangs and chimps and gorillas do all wade in water. But of course, this is about ape ancestors, not apes today. Why is it that you can invoke ground dwelling for gibbons (something they rarely do today), but Verhaegen cannot invoke water because some apes rarely go in water today?

    “For the most part there are very few differences between H. erectus and all the other members of Homo.”

    This is simply not the case. There are major differences between Homo erectus ‘or erectine grade’ species and Homo sapiens. Wider pelvic bones, longer femoral necks, flat femoral bones, long, low brain cases, less basicranial flexion, heavier occiput and femur, lack of femoral pilaster, large nuchal muscle attachment, shorter stature including shorter tibiae, differences in the shape and form of the vertebrae. These could be waved away as non-consequential (a ‘gish gallop’ if you prefer), but from an evolutionary perspective they do add up to a significant set of differences that in my opinion need to be explained, and are explained by the littoral model better than any other model I am aware of, in my opinion.

    “A link between early hominids and aquatic habitats was essential to this model. That link goes away the second you know where the fossils are.”

    Early hominids do have a strong association with wet environments, but these are often associated with gallery forest, and not as extensive (the water body that is) as we see for erectine grade sites as far as I know. But regardless of this, australopithecines are not human, and do not have the features that indicate underwater foraging (large brain, linear build, pachyosteosclerosis), therefore they are largely irrelevant to the littoral model of archaic Homo that we are discussing here (I thought you’d know this or perhaps you haven’t read our papers yet?). This isn’t trying to be clever or shifty, it is taking into account all the available data.

    “But one of the hallmarks of erectus is that it is found in a diversity of habitats, yes, near rivers when they are there but in a much wider range of areas.”

    ‘Erectine grade’ fossils are always found next to permanent water as far as I know. Please let me know of any exceptions you are aware of. But even so this doesn’t prove they always lived there, but your assertion that they only visited those sites seasonally is also completely unsupported unless you have evidence. Again, the fact that all ‘erectine grade’ sites are near large permanent water bodies is not what the littoral dispersal model is based on (though it doesn’t contradict it). It is primarily the comparative data, something palaeoanthropologists, unlike genuine biologists, seem reluctant to invest any time in (unless they think it can be used against the AAT, i.e., seals and otters have fur, therefore AAT is wrong).

    “There it is again. It is fully off the mark. Not minor parts.”

    I absolutely disagree. Morgan and Hardy were essentially correct. The best explanations for the combination of nakedness, subcutaneous fat, large brains, tool use, external nose, linear build, breath hold abilities etc., is that human ancestors spent more time foraging in water than their ape cousins and most human populations do today. That doesn’t mean Hardy and Morgan got everything correct, but just because Darwin didn’t get everything right first time round doesn’t make everything he said “fully off the mark”, does it?

    “Hominids require water to survive. That has never been in question. There is no “new” model of human evolution that adds that in. It has always been there. The most stripped down possible model of the “littoral” hypothesis is probably close to what everyone has been thinking, but then, it isn’t really a thing.”

    OK, no problem at all. Then what are we arguing about? If we can all agree that foraging in the water was one important element in human evolution (note: not the only element), helping to explain some of the features that characterise Homo erectus, as well as some of the unusual (for a primate) characteristics we see in Homo sapiens, I promise never to bother you or your readers again. :-)

  53. #54 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 20, 2014

    Has geology been able to reconstruct whether the Afar depression was flooded by sea water from the Indian Ocean around 2.5-2 mya with the emergence of Homo erectus and the first big hominin brain? Has someone considered the dental wear on Afar He specimens from around this period for possible aquatic diet, e.g. molluscs?

    I think it’s weird arguing that the majority of early hominid fossils are found no where near any kind of body of water, and in other contexts pointing out that specimens mostly needed wet sediments to fossilize.

    I do think, that the continous refusal to study aspects relating to AAH is chiefly due to misguided professional pride within the field of anthropology, and not genuine scientific concern of pseudoscience. There’s still a tremendous wasted potential for understanding the human past related to this, regardless if it was initially developed by a book selling armchair scientist.

  54. #55 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 20, 2014

    A quick reply to Calli Arcale reply #25

    Quote: (…) human fat layers do not offer much insulation — which brings us to why the divers are wearing those wetsuits. It’s not just because they look snazzy. It’s because it’s cold down there.

    Reply: Homo sapiens is untill very recently a tropical ape, semiaquatic or no. Diving suits are chiefly a modern invention needed in colder waters in subtropical to temperate Europe, e.g. the Meditterenean. Despite this, previous European cultures from e.g. the stone age (5000 bc.) Ertebølle culture of Scandinavia collecting large ammounts of shellfish to Greek sponge divers from the classical age up untill the 20th century were capable of breath hold diving activity, even to large depths (Greeks, via skandalopetra diving), with other examples of suitless diving cultures in temperate Asia, e.g. the Korean and Japanese Ama.

  55. #56 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    January 20, 2014

    It gave me great pleasure that “Haha” was the only argument against what I said:
    “There’s no doubt H.erectus & other archaic Homo populations (had) spread to different continents following the coasts & later rivers, rather than running over open plains or savannas as many popular & some “scientific” views of human evolution still claim. We disproved “endurance running Homo” in table 4 of google “econiche Homo”.”

    How do yo get on an island (Flores >18 km) if not along coasts? Not running over open plains. Table 4 at google “econiche Homo” disproved in every detail the endurance running haha.
    Endur.running is a perfect example of pre-darwinian anthropocentrism.
    I think the traditional “running” fantasies (trees>plain = quadru->bipedal) are the greatest obstacle to a semi-aquatic view of our evolution.
    Please note that the littoral theory has nothing to do with australopiths or habilis.
    It’s only about archaic Homo such as most erectus & relatives: flat & thick skull etc.

    Most traits that discern archaic Homo from sapiens are frequently F or uniquely U seen in littoral spp, and most of these are rarely R or not at all N seen in open plain spp:
    -platycephaly U? N?
    -brain size x 2 or 3 U? R
    -ear exostoses U N?
    -broad bodies F N?
    -intercontinental dispersal F R
    -island colonisation F R
    -platymeria F N?
    -pachyosteosclerosis U N
    All these traits *independently* point into the same direction.
    Truth is the transection of independent lines (or something like that – I forgot who said that).
    This leaves no doubt that archaic Homo dispersed along the coasts.
    IOW, saying that “there is doubt about most things in human evolution, at the level of detail we are addressing” is showing a lack of knowledge of the data and/or of logica and/or of biological insight.
    In the absence of anthropocentrism (ie, if these archaic Homo fossils hadn’t been of close relatives of ours), no paleontologist had doubted that they belonged to a littoral species.

    I’ve addressed the alleged problems of the littoral theory in my 2013 paper in Hum.Evol.28:237-266 “The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”, eg, many archaic Homo fossils are found far from today’s coasts (some even apparently butchering ungulate carcasses in savannas or elsewhere), but these too were always with large bodies of water, and they don’t disprove the littoral theory: seasonally following of anadromous spp? fossilisation in changing sea-levels? recently ex-littoral? other explanations?
    Note inland erectus-like specimens had thin skull bones, see my 2013 Hum.Evol.paper.
    IOW, many data independently support the littoral theory, and no dat contradict it.

    Of course, there are still lots of things in human evolution that are in doubt, but at the level we are addressing (archaic Homo), it’s clear that they were fully dependent on coasts & rivers.

    One of the problems of the littoral theory that remain is: when exactly were they exclusively littoral? early-Pleistocene? or already in the Pliocene? Homo & Pan split c 5 Ma according to the DNA data, so it was probably after that time.
    All archaic traits appear in Pleistocene, none appear in the Pliocene AFAWK, but absence of evidence is no evidence of absence. Nevertheless, we suggest that Homo populations became littoral with lowering sea-levels (ice Ages), when large areas on the continental shelves (presumably tree-poor & shellfish-rich?) became available for handy, omnivorous, tool-using, intelligent, waterside “apes”, se” our paper “The continental shelf hypothesis”.
    OTOH, the retroviral data suggest our ancestors were absent from Africa between c 4 & 3 Ma (Yohn cs 2005 PLoS): this period (at least 4-3 Ma?) might or might not coincide with a fully-littoral past.

  56. #57 Greg Laden
    January 20, 2014

    “I think it’s weird arguing that the majority of early hominid fossils are found no where near any kind of body of water, and in other contexts pointing out that specimens mostly needed wet sediments to fossilize.”

    South African cave remains probably started out life .. Actually death … As mummified remains in a dry micro environment in a larger relatively dry environment with small streams as the largest body of water for most periods. There were of course dome underground bodies of water in dome of the caves, though not right where the fossils are found, Also they are not especially fossilized.

  57. #58 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 20, 2014

    That was at least a tangible answer. But I’m more focused on the Afar depression and not as much South Africa, as the continous cradle of humanity.

    What in your opinion is a likely archaic Homo erectus? One that could be considered a transitional from some australopithecine to Homo? (Habilis? Rudolfensis?) Those are the specimens, which would illustrate a transition towards more seafood consumption, if that was the case, spawning the growth of the hominin brain based on e.g. molluscs (this following Cunnane etc.’s biochemical observations, DHA, Iodine, etc.). Would such archaic He illustrate dental wear of consuming more seafood? Cunnane et al has also suggested alkaline volcanic lakes, which would’ve also offered these (extant) brain-specific nutrients. I’m offering a testable prediction here.

  58. #59 Greg Laden
    January 20, 2014

    Why do you think the afar is the cradle of humanity?

  59. #60 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 21, 2014

    The concentration of the known hominin fossils? When I say Afar, I mean the general region from Djibouti down to Turkana and Olduvai. That’s where most of the key early fossils are found, right?

  60. #61 Don Johnson
    January 21, 2014

    #54
    “I do think, that the continous refusal to study aspects relating to AAH is chiefly due to misguided professional pride within the field of anthropology, and not genuine scientific concern of pseudoscience. ”

    It’s true that science is kept pure by *people like Greg. But there’s plenty of those to go around. Fortunately some people see something interesting and aren’t discouraged when few others have the sight or curiosity to consider it. Why not scratch your chin and wonder? Sure it might take a little gall, but it’s certainly less harmful than arrogance.

    Love to see him say in the same response that it’s all in doubt but HAHA you are wrong.

  61. #62 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 21, 2014

    Look, what do you do, when from a cornucopia of idiot amateurs (Dan Brown, Charles Berlitz, Erich von Däniken, whoever) indeed wasting Academia’s time, somebody speaks up with a thought, that would be a solid contribution to modern science? Do you just ignore that one voice of reason from a sea of morons? Aparently so. Pardon me for considering that to be the wrong step, too.

    Enlighten me, is there anyone on par with Morgan in terms of amateur science, who has ever been credited with a valid contribution to a complex scientific field? The closest I can think is Mendel or Galileo, and they weren’t recognized in their own life time, either.

  62. #63 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    January 21, 2014

    A comment at the AAT group:
    “I read the blog. Interesting arguments. Can’t help but feel that Greg is beginning to flounder in the shallow waters of his non-arguments. It’s almost like ‘they’ (the opponents to AAT) are agreeing that early Homo lived by water, died by water, travelled by water, fed by water, but under no circumstances could he have entered the water for a swim or a wash, or had his anatomy or behaviour in any way affected by water.”

  63. #64 Greg Laden
    January 21, 2014

    The other problem with AAT proponents is that they don’t really listen to what other people are saying.

  64. #65 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 22, 2014

    That’s because AAT-mongers can’t hear what them other people are saying. ‘Cause them other people ain’t saying nuthin’. And why? Because anthropology’s firm rejection of the notion of humans being old beach apes is unfounded in terms of the scientific method. Anthropologists want the idea to be wrong because of a sociological issue, they just can’t argue why it’s wrong. Because it most likely isn’t.

    I’m gonna rearrange a beautiful quote by Don Johanson: I don’t believe in the aquatic ape hypothesis any more than I believe in gravity. You don’t believe in facts.

    Anthropology is still wasting a great opportunity. Biochemists had to find the one game flipping AAH evidence in the human brain on behalf of anthropology, because anthropologists didn’t dare to touch it. That one nutritional observation of the human brain needing seafood is enough to stop laughin’ and get crackin’. Would anthropology have reached exactly the same conclusions, had Louis Leakey or Wilfrid Le Gros Clark picked up on Hardy’s question instead of some random TV screenplay writer with an attitude? Most likely. Then the AAH controversy today would’ve been with creationists, not anthropologists. Then you would’ve praised the notion of aquaticism in human evolution, Greg, had it been kept in house. But sometimes it takes an Italian to get the Spanish across the Atlantic.

    Would acknowledgement of Morgan’s valid contributions spawn a crisis for anthropology not unlike the Piltdown man scandal? Yes. Would there be morons coming out of the woodwork gloating, whenever anthropology finally cease its nonsense? Probably. Would I personally be one of them in a weak moment? Not unlikely. And so what? So we’re old beach apes and so what?

  65. #66 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 23, 2014

    Chris, the AAT argument that the human brain needs seafood is bullshit. And you know it’s bullshit because you’ve made this same argument over at TalkRational and had it thoroughly debunked for you. It isn’t honest of you to cart the same discredited argument over here and present it unaltered to a fresh audience.

    Once again, the human brain DOESN’T need seafood. This is manifestly obvious, since hunter gatherers all over the world have developed and maintained perfectly ordinary brains on a variety of terrestrial diets.

    Reply to SC Cunnane, Loren Cordain et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2005

    “We agree with the notion that normal human brain development and function require a diet adequate in iron, iodine, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of both the n−3 and n−6 families. Moreover, there is little doubt that animal foods, which were the dietary staples for historically studied hunter-gatherers (3, 4), are rich sources of these nutrients”

    Also:

    “With respect to iodine and the brain’s development and function, it should be pointed out that a wide variety of staple foods domesticated during the Neolithic period and later (ie, millet, maize, soy, cassava, sweet potatoes, lima beans, turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, rapeseed, mustard, onion, garlic, bamboo shoots, and palm tree fruit) contain a variety of goitrogens (7, 8) that may elicit symptoms of iodine deficiency despite adequate iodine intakes (7, 9). Hence, plant food–dominated diets containing goitrogens, which were adopted by humanity after the agricultural revolution, may play a significant role in impairing thyroid function and thereby adversely influencing human brain development (10). In contrast, iodine deficiency is rare among traditional societies that consume animal-based diets”

    Also

    “Exploitation of the marine environment is first documented in the archaeologic record during the Middle Paleolithic period (≈110 000 y BP), and stable isotope data show that inland aquatic foods were not utilized by hominins living in Europe until the mid-Upper Paleolithic period (≈28 000–20 000 y BP) (13). Hence, aquatic animal foods, whether ocean- or inland-derived, would have played a minor role in providing nutrients that were crucial to the rapid hominin brain expansion that occurred during the Early Paleolithic period (≈2.5–2.0 million y BP). Rather, terrestrial animal foods (including muscle, brain, marrow, thyroid gland, and other organs) would have represented the primary source of long-chain PUFAs, iron, zinc, iodine, and other nutrients that were necessary for encephalization and normal brain development ”

    To summarize: 1) The diets of terrestrial hunter gatherers have plenty of brain-specific nutrients. 2) Iodine deficiency occurs among agriculturalists because they don’t get a wide variety of naturally occurring foods, and many of our staple crops are goitrogenic. 3) There is no evidence that pre-AMH lived anywhere near a source of sea food.

    The AAT argument that seafood is necessary for brain development is simply wrong. Wanting it to be right doesn’t make it right. It is observably false. Anyone with two eyes in his head can see that it is false.

    Chris, it is delusional to argue that something is true when simple observation demonstrates that it is false. And it’s dishonest of you to take your debunked arguments to a different forum and toss them out as if you weren’t aware that they had been refuted.

  66. #67 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 23, 2014

    With regard to “evidence” proposed by AATers that supposedly “points” to aquaticism, this “evidence” is nothing more than circular thinking.

    Here is how their “logic” goes:

    Observation: Human babies are fat.
    Hypothesis: Human babies are fat due to selection for floating.
    Evidence: Human babies are fat.

    Observation: Humans swim better than other apes.
    Hypothesis: Humans swim better than other apes due to selection for swimming.
    Evidence: Humans swim better than other apes.

    Etc., etc.

    The traits AATers imagine to be aquatic cannot themselves be the evidence for the story. That is classic circular reasoning. The evidence for the story must be something other than the traits themselves. For example:

    Observation: Humans swim better than other apes.
    Hypothesis: Humans swim better than other apes due to selection for swimming.
    Evidence: The fossils of human ancestors are found along seashores,. and the traits that make humans better swimmers than other apes appeared in the human lineage at the same time human ancestors began living on sea shores.

    This still wouldn’t *prove* the AAT true, but it would constitute some kind of reasonable evidence as a starting point.

    Unfortunately for AATers, no evidence of this type exists for their story. According to Cerling et al 2011, the fossils of all known or suspected human ancestors from 6 mya to the appearance of AMH were found in open woodland, wooded grassland, or grassland hundreds of miles from any coast. What’s more, in some cases the fossil assemblages associated with human ancestors contain no aquatic species whatsoever.

    There is zero corroborating evidence for the AAT. The only “evidence” is endlessly repeating circular arguments wherein the traits themselves are put forth as evidence that the traits are aquatic.

    Sorry, AATers. You’ve got nothing.

  67. #68 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 23, 2014

    And again friar William goes out the window. Suddenly, we’re not supposed to eat plants. Suddenly, there’s plenty of Iodine on land. Regardless of complete lack of convergence of other bigbrained land eaters in the mammalian clade, with complete disregard to the range of bigbrained aquatics in the same clade.
    This is violantly contrary to any consensus. But who cares? Anything goes, ’cause the null hypothesis is that Morgan was flat out wrong. It is simply indisputable. The scientific method can be freely ignored, if it violates the professional pride of the establishment. We haven’t changed since Copernicus.

    And the oldest known kitchen midden of hominin consumed shellfish is from Southern France and dates to 300kya. Which means Homo erectus. One kitchen midden is not conclusive, but it’s enough to stop laughin’ and get crackin’. Who knows, what other evidence will be found, when the coppers finally get off their a…? They are the ones with access to the bones, but they are twiddling their thumbs. Just because they didn’t like the fool on the hill.

  68. #69 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2014

    I spent the good part of the day yesterday observing human babies and other kids up to preschool age at a swimming class.

    I’ve spent hundreds of hours observing aquatic mammals.

    The humans are not aquatic. That does not obviate that they were in the past, in and of itself, but there is nothing about humans now, with respect to being in the water, that lends to an aquatic adaptation. Patterns of growth, energetics, basic life history, etc. explain humans pretty well with respect to their floatability and such.

  69. #70 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2014

    Regarding aquatic mammals and big brains, I’d love to hear what Joe Marcus says about this.

  70. #71 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 23, 2014

    You have no fucking clue what Friar William proposed or how it applies to this argument, Chris. The simplest explanation that accounts for all the evidence and makes no unwarranted assumptions is preferred. The AAT is a convoluted writhing sea of bullshit that makes huge and unnecessary assumptions supported by no evidence.

    How is a marine diet the simplest explanation that accounts for all the evidence, when there is NO EVIDENCE for a marine diet and people need no seafood?

    The simple fact is that human hunter gatherers have, can, and do develop perfectly ordinary-sized brains on various terrestrial diets. This is a fact. So, the diet argument is wrong.

    No, this doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to eat plants. You’re a moron if you think that’s what I said. Do you really need me to explain it to you? Ok. Put on your thinking cap Chrissy. Ready? Modern urban societies with diets high in goitrogenic crops will have a higher incidence of iodine deficiency. These statistics can’t be used to make statements about the quality of diet of hunter gatherers.

    Did you get it? Need me to draw you a picture?

    And your use of “convergence” is a fucking joke. You don’t even know what the word means. Sprinkling your brain-dead rants with sciencey-sounding jargon doesn’t magically convert them into science.

    Need an example of terrestrial animals with large EQ and high intelligence, Chris? Primates. Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans. They are as smart as cetaceans, and guess what, Chris. Just guess. They’re our closest relatives. And guess what else. They aren’t marine animals.

    Your entire argument is based on ignorance of basic facts and knowledge; ignorance of science and the scientific method; ignorance of anthropology. You have never made a factually accurate statement in any discussion of the AAT.

    And this is because you don’t care about factual accuracy. The AAT is your religion, and religious people aren’t motivated by factual accuracy. What you want and need is a story around which to build your faith, and the AAT fits the bill for you.

  71. #72 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    January 23, 2014

    #69 Quote: there is nothing about humans now, with respect to being in the water, that lends to an aquatic adaptation (…)

    Uhuh. Except wading bipedalism, convergent near-hairlessness, descended larynx, conscious verbal communication, nutritional specific encephalization, obese offspring, benefits of water birth, hooded nose, coastal habitat preference, bathing behavior and these fellas:
    http://vimeo.com/7953385
    http://vimeo.com/18213129
    Show me a chimp that can learn that. Even if semiaquaticism ain’t the full story (and I’m sick of saying that, ’cause trying to be a diplomat in the midst of all this hysteria aparently invites the naysayers to piss on you even more), these arguments collectively mean, that AAH has never been the nutball idea it’s still cracked out to be, even though anthropology really, really, really, really wants it to be.

    You do know, that the Animal Planet thing was a mockumentary? Nobody is arguing for the existence of mermaids here, except for two or three morons, that don’t know what the hell they’re talking about either. Forget Aquaman, it’s god damned Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O’Sullivan splashing beneath the palm trees.

  72. #73 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    January 23, 2014

    #71 Quote: How is a marine diet the simplest explanation that accounts for all the evidence, when there is NO EVIDENCE for a marine diet and people need no seafood?

    Because arguing for having found these brain specific nutrients for eons in purely terrestrial food chains adds the assumption, that humans “just happened” to stumble onto a varied diet of exactly the right nutrients in two, three, four, five or more different and very rare type of land foods. Being very much alone among terrestrial mammals, that doesn’t evolve big brains from terrestrial food chains.
    Arguing aquatic food chains as this food source by far has the fewest assumptions. They contain exactly the range of Iodine and Omega-3 and-6 nutrients that our head needs. And in the case of shellfish also a host of other vital nutrients, e.g. C and E vitamins. This angle is further supported by convergent encephalization among other aquatic mammals, fully, semi- or past semiaquatic. No need to argue several very specific food groups, when you can settle on just one broad type, which happens to be wet. That’s parsimony. That’s friar William.

    I don’t have the bloody time for this …

  73. #74 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2014

    Humans suck as waders. There is little analogy between human surface covering and aquatic mammal surface covering. But if you want to press that case, the you are arguing for a level of aquatic commitment that conflicts with the African paleo record foe all hominid genera, there is just too much occupation where there were only naked deep streams.

    Venefits of ware birth are I demonstrated. The cooking hypothesis together with increased reliance on hunting of along nicely with dietary related issues.

    I’ve never seen animal planet.

  74. #75 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    January 23, 2014

    #74 Quote: I’ve never seen animal planet.

    That would explain a lot. That’s a mistake too. Especially when you’ve named your blog Culture as science, science as culture. You needn’t distance yourself too much from the commoners (even though some of ‘em are creationists).

  75. #76 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2014

    It is a mistake that I don’t pt to spend a hundred bucks a month to have cable or satellite TV so I can keep up with the drek? Apparently you and I don’t share the asme values.

  76. #77 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 23, 2014

    It would actually explain why there’s still so many people rejecting Darwin in the otherwise educated world, if Academia have the culture of hiding away in their convents, and even frown upon those that leave them to speak to the rabble (Stephen Gould or something).
    Without the people nothing, and without the elite nothing. It’s a symbiosis. (But what ever …)

  77. #78 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2014

    I pay attention to the “culture of science.” I chose to do so in a number of ways. It is not really your place to tell me how to do that, thank you very much. I really don’t appreciate you blaming the persistence of creationism on me! Not watching “animal planet” is not “hiding away in their convents”

    And where exactly have I frowned on SJG. Who, by the way, tended to treat the public with a fair amount of disdain face to face, btw.

    You are out of line, Christian.

  78. #79 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 23, 2014

    All right, fair enough.

  79. #80 OHSU
    January 24, 2014

    #73 Quote: “Because arguing for having found these brain specific nutrients for eons in purely terrestrial food chains adds the assumption…”

    It’s not an assumption, Chris. That’s where the fossils and artifacts are found!!

    As an AATer it is really hard for you to understand how real anthropologists operate. They don’t look at modern human features and then make up a story about where human ancestors must have lived. What they do is look at the FOSSILS and ARTIFACTS. How can you not understand that?

    The fossils of human ancestors ARE found hundreds of miles from any coast. This isn’t an assumption. This is a fact. All of the known or suspected human ancestors for the past 6 million years ARE found in open woodland, wooded grassland, grassland. This isn’t an assumption. This is a FACT.

    The first hewn stone tools are found at around the time of the australopith-homo transition, and they’re found in association with the bones of butchered animals. This isn’t an assumption. This is a FACT.

    Theories that place human ancestors in open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland; eating terrestrial hunter-gatherer type diets require NO ASSUMPTIONS and account of ALL THE EVIDENCE, Chris.

    It is sad to see how believing in the AAT has destroyed your ability to think.

    “Being very much alone among terrestrial mammals, that doesn’t evolve big brains from terrestrial food chains.”

    I already answered this question, Chris. Repeating something false and stupid doesn’t make it true, Chris. Repeating something that you’ve been corrected on as if you hadn’t been corrected is the hallmark of delusion, Chris.

    Once more, primates have a large EQ and are just as smart as cetaceans. Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and even some monkeys like Capuchins. None of them have a marine diet.

    Moreover, if seafood were all that were necessary for large brains, explain why seals, sea lions, otters and other sea mammals are no smarter of bigger brained than a common dog.

    “Arguing aquatic food chains as this food source by far has the fewest assumptions.”

    Believing in the AAT has robbed you of your ability to think, Chris.

    This is how the AAT works: Look at human features and come up with an imaginative story.

    This is how science works: Look at the fossils and artifacts and explain them.

    “They contain exactly the range of Iodine and Omega-3 and-6 nutrients that our head needs.”

    This is flat our wrong. They actually contain far more iodine than we need.

    “This angle is further supported by convergent encephalization among other aquatic mammals”

    You have no fucking clue what “convergent” means.

    “No need to argue several very specific food groups”

    Although I have explained it to you many times, you continue to get it wrong. This is what we call “willful ignorance”, Chris. Do you know what that means? Being dumb on purpose.

    It isn’t a handful of very specific terrestrial foods that has enough iodine for people, Chris. Iodine is plentiful in the diets of hunter-gatherers all over the world.

    The only assumption required is that human ancestors ate the same sorts of things modern hunter-gatherers eat. And that isn’t much of an assumption. It goes like this.

    1) Human ancestors lived in the places where their fossils are found.
    2) They ate the sorts of things found in the environment where their fossils are found.

    That’s it. And guess what? Modern hunter-gatherers who live in the same types of environments have no problem getting enough iodine.

    “…when you can settle on just one broad type, which happens to be wet.”

    And just happens to come from an environment far from where any pre-AMH human fossils are found.

    You simply have no evidence, Chris.

    “That’s parsimony. That’s friar William.”

    Fossils.

    The AAT requires that you assume human ancestors didn’t live where their fossils are found and did live where their fossils aren’t found. That is the opposite of parsimony.

    “I don’t have the bloody time for this …”

    You don’t have the brains for this.

  80. #81 OHSU
    January 24, 2014

    Chris is a really good example of the type of delusional religiosity of a typical AATer.

    I have had the ‘marine foodchain’ debate with Chris more than once on TalkRational, and I’ve pointed out the gigantic errors in the story. I’ve done so using published replies to Cunnane et al, references to specific hunter-gatherer groups, and details of the known iodine content of various foods.

    Chris has been made perfectly aware of the flaws in the ‘marine foodchain’ argument”. He has watched his empty claims get demolished by scientific fact (and simple observation), and he KNOWS they hold no water.

    Yet he appears here on this blog making EXACTLY the same arguments a month or two later. The identical arguments with no alterations, updates, or improvements; as the previous discussions in which his arguments were demolished had not occurred.

    There are two possibilities here.

    One is that Chris is a dishonest person. He knows that his arguments are flawed, but he doesn’t care. He’s just hoping a new audience won’t catch on.

    The other is that Chris is delusional. His faith in the AAT is so strong that he blocks out the memory of having had his arguments demolished, allowing those arguments to remain intact in his mind.

    Having some experience trying to engage in rational debate with Chris, I think it is some of both.

  81. #82 Don Johnson
    January 24, 2014

    OHSU, you are making a good point. I don’t have any side to this, I just want to ask a question, wasn’t that information you are referring to gathered with the idea that apes went into the plains. It was supported by the data we first stumbled upon and dug up, and it’s been the general framework since the beginning, right? But can you entertain the idea that maybe more investigating and digging would be helpful? Trying to argue against data with only theory isn’t helpful, but is it so bad to have an idea lead to more investigating? I would imagine people don’t go around digging aimlessly without a theory to guide.

    When you say,
    “This is how the AAT works: Look at human features and come up with an imaginative story.” wouldn’t it be fair to say that any scientist would follow those steps, and then start digging?

    And when you say “This is how science works: Look at the fossils and artifacts and explain them.” Aren’t you forgetting that a hypothesis probably helped them look for those fossils and artifacts? It might be luck, but wasn’t there probably some conjecture somewhere?

    From the posts you are making, it would seem like we have it all figured out. Is that the case?

  82. #83 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 24, 2014

    Again, the fossils are found from then wet sediments, and you’re saying that they lived nowhere near water. And I’m proposing that geology looks at the paleogeography of the East African landscape during these key eras of human evolution. See if those regions were indeed flooded by sea water from the Indian Ocean, e.g. in the Afar depression, or dominated by volcanic alkaline lakes.

    And anthropology is prone to put too much emphasis on them bone hunters. It’s as if you are not allow to suggest anything about human evolution, if not stemming everything from the bones. Don’t get me wrong, without the fossil archive we would have nothing, but there are tons of things about human evolution, that the fossils just simply can’t answer. Where we need to consider other academic disciplines other than fossil hunting, for instance good ol’ convergent analysis (which made a lot of Darwin’s case, didn’t it?). We are slaves to the fourth dimension here, evidence gets lost in the eons. Especially related to the soft tissues of the human body, which are key in the aquatic debate, tissues which doesn’t fossilize (unless we stumple on an Archeopteryx-like hominin fossil one day, which is not bloody likely).

    In the last paper of this life, Philip Tobias spoke about reconstructing the human past as a complex task characterized by a high level of interdisciplinarity. He wrote, and I quote: “Since the aquatic model is commonly regarded as highly controversial, its rejection led to a stigmatization of the whole spectrum of topics around water use in non-human hominoids and hominins. We argue that this bias represents a serious hindrance to a comprehensive reconstruction of the human past.” Unquote.

    This is a man, that dug out half the known South African fossil archive. This is your own giant. If you don’t want to listen to peasant me, then listen to your own aristocracy. This man aparently felt, that Morgan’s contribution had to be part of his swan song, almost mimicking Copernicus’ posthumous publication.

  83. #84 Greg Laden
    January 24, 2014

    “Again, the fossils are found from then wet sediments, and you’re saying that they lived nowhere near water.”

    Incorrect characterization of what was said.

  84. #85 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 25, 2014

    One question. Who are the archaic Homo erectus? And where have they been found? The whole aquatic angle of extant Homo sapiens having a brain dependent on saline or alkaline seafood filled with e.g. Omega-3, Omega-6 and Iodine would indicate, that archaic Homo erectus 2.5-2mya made a transition to such a diet to grow the first really big hominin brain. Am I wrong in assuming, that this would identify itself as microwear or possibly isotopic residue matching ancient consumption of seafood, this on the teeth of whatever specimens are most likely as archaic Homo erectus?

    Isn’t that a testable prediction? One, that is actually based on them precious bones? A guy like me can’t get access to them, one, I dont have the proper expertise to discern such marks, plus even if I had, anthropology would not recognize any work from my part as anything other than biased (again, the null hypothesis being that Morgan was indisputably WRONG!!!).

    Let’s imagine that scene taking place at a palaeoanthropological institute:
    Chris: “Hi, I’m some bozo from the Internet taking part in a flaming quasi-debate on an aspect of human evolution. Could you be so kind and give me access to some of your eon old, fragile Australopithecinae and Homo fossils, and also whatever gizmo you have for reading microwear and isotopic levels on the teeth of these critters? I’m trying to figure out, if any of them ate seafood in ancient times. It would really help to settle an argument.”
    Random professor: “Security!”

  85. #86 Greg Laden
    January 25, 2014

    What is an “archaic Homo erectus”? Please be specific. It is not a scientific term or a term of art in the field. Specify specimen numbers if this is a population or species for which there is evidence.

  86. #87 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 25, 2014

    A transitional Australopithecinae, I’d reckon. Representing the explosion from chimp-size brains in hominins to perhaps three quarters that of archaic sapiens. Whether or not that occured by a transition to seafood consumption. Is it habilis? Ergaster? Rudolfensis?

    Whether Australopithecinae groups were semiaquatic in perhaps fresh water habitats in the hinterland of Africa before such a transition is an entirely different matter.

  87. #88 Greg Laden
    January 25, 2014

    To run tests on fossils you’d have to name the fossils. There might already be appropriate tests for at least a preliminary consideration of your hypothesis. But without a specific sample of fossil material in mind this isn’t really going to go anywhere.

  88. #89 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 25, 2014

    All right, just to pick one, based on limited knowledge of the current status of the fossil archive, KNM ER 1470. Has there been an analysis to discern its general diet, based on dental wear and isotopic residue? (I haven’t found any specific references.)
    Somebody like the D-fossils from Georgia, maybe, too.

  89. #90 Greg Laden
    January 25, 2014

    I want to understand your suggestion. Dmanisi skull and 1470 would be examples to represent a transition from australopithecines to homo erectus/erg aster, with clearly larger brains that by the aquatic April theory could develop only or mainly because of the inclusion of dietary elements from marine littoral settings which might leave distinctive traces as tooth wear, isotopic signatures in none or teeth, or trace element signatures in bone or teeth. Am I characterizing this correctly?

  90. #91 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    In a seashell, yes. I have to say, I have limited knowledge about African finds for the last decade or so, there may be other more recent finds that would represent such a transition better.

    I’ve seen references to such analysis on Lucy (which would fall outside this context as an australopithecine, I know), and there seemed to have been some confusion as to what the dental wear indicated for type of general diet versus what the thickness of her enamel indicated. In the abstract I had access too, no aquatic food chains was mentioned to have been considered. Because I imagine anthropology is simply not considering them for hominins. Which is pretty silly, if it’s only because it would sound too Morganesque to consider it, and that it’s heresy to go down that entire road. But I don’t know if australopithecines fed off aquatic food chains, if so, I suspect from fresh water habitats (on sedges or the like), which contain much less Iodine for instance, and therefore wouldn’t support as large a brain expansion as saline and alkaline habitats, which would then be specific for Homo. In that suggested version of human evolution out of a million others.

  91. #92 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    And by the way, dietary elements from marine and/or alkaline littoral settings. Volcanic lakes, which is Stephen Cunnane et al’s suggestion.

  92. #93 Greg Laden
    January 26, 2014

    1470 does not have teeth … only the roots.

    I’m not 100% sure but I think Dmanisi fauna have very little in the way of aquatic elements. I sent a note to the faunal expert there to see if I’ve missed something. Ironically, Dmanisi looks more Serengeti like than most of the African sites.

    How is it that Volcanic lakes have the same nutrients as marine contexts? When you say “Alkaline volcanic lakes” do you mean lakes formed by alkiline volcanoes, or alkaline lakes that are formed by volcanoes? Also, what exactly is a “volcanic lake”? These terms need to be defined better.

  93. #94 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    January 26, 2014

    Cunnane et al detailed it e.g. here:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9505798
    I haven’t had access to the full article. But from the abstract, it’s a similar presentation as other sources I’ve read from the same team.

    And you’re forgetting to account for the geological calendar. That Dmanisi today would look like Serengeti (I think there are more hills in Dmanisi) doesn’t tell us the geology of the area when the hominins in question lived and died there. Dmanisi could’ve been a subtropical archipelago for all we know, but I don’t know if that’s been reconstructed by geology.

  94. #95 Greg Laden
    January 26, 2014

    In what way and I ‘forgetting about the geological calendar’? My reference was to the fauna from the early site of Dmanisi. “Look like” is in reference to the fauna. As in the list of animals you find in a living system or a fossil assemblage. I said nothing about hilliness or terrain.

    What is the basis for suggesting that Dmanisi was a subtropical archipelago. Are you suggesting an archipelago of islands in a tropical lagoon? That the area was covered by a sea and the hominids lived there on islands?

    There has been geology there and I assure you there was no sea with island archipelagos. Nothing like that.

    The long chain fatty acid argument does not cut it. A very large percentage of large brain hominids have lived in the absence of a substantial proportion of their diet including the easy sources the paper mentions. They get these nutrients through littoral or fish based diets. That such diets played a role in some populations is an interesting idea but it is not likely that this is the context for human evolution for 1470, Dmanisi.

  95. #96 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    I’m just gonna voice this out loud, ’cause what ever, I don’t have an academic career at jeopardy, so …

    It may be worth looking into the specific evolution of hominids in the epoch before and around the split of hominids into the four extant genera Pongo, Gorilla, Pan and Homo. Specifically with regards to the many ape fossils found around the then dwindling Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean, and towards South East Asia. That particular epoch is interesting, because it’s dominated by a warmer climate with a wider tropical belt out from equator, seeing tropical rain forests all across Southern Eurasia, from where a multitude of these ape fossils have been found (and conversely few hominids are known from equatorial Africa). Where African Dryopithecis-like forms, being decendants of Proconsul, migrated out of Africa with these rainforests, which evolved into a host of forms, including Sivapithecus, the likely ancestors to extant Pongo in SE Asia; and also a range of hominids in Europe, e.g. Rudapithecus found as far North as Hungary, and Ouranopithecus in Asia Minor and Pierolapithecus in Spain, to mention a few. The relationship between all these finds, to me they seem a mess, some of them are suggested as possible ancestors also to modern humans, but nothing is certain. I’m not at all fully versed in this fossil catalogue, even less than I am in the hominin one.

    When the Earth’s climate cooled around 9mya, these ape genera then migrated back into Africa (with exception of Pongo ancestors that went into SE Asia) and split into the different genera of today, gorillas, chimps, humans, for whatever selective pressure. Some have called this a ‘There and back again’ story of ape evolution.

    I’m basically suggesting (and I’m not sure this is my concoction exclusively), that because of the possible link between aquatic nutrional elements and the extant sapiens brain, some of the ape forms were perhaps semiaquatic already in this epoch circa 15-9mya, causing a limited brain growth in hominids as a family, based on aquatic foodchains; but that this growth stagnated in all following genera when abandoning the aquatic habitats furthr North, except in one, Homo and its specific ancestors. Whether the latter were on-and-off semiaquatic following the split from e.g. the mutual ancestors to chimps/bonobos.

    Whether an aquatic diet can be discerned in these early hominids in Eurasia is another ball thrown into the air, that I can’t follow up on personally.

    I know. That’s a whole new level of panic. That’s asking people to sprint out of Plato’s cave. And there’s a very narrow opening on that cave, and I don’t want any one banging their head on the ceiling on the way out. Especially not myself.

  96. #97 Greg Laden
    January 26, 2014

    OK, so the early pleistocene fossils did not work out so let’s try it with the 9mya fossils.

    OK, no problem. Name the exact specimens you are interested in claiming to have had a specific association with aquatic habitats. They all have numbers, and when we get back into the miocene, it is common practice to explicity discuss fossil numbers to avoid arguments or confusion about what is attributed to which species.

    There is no springing out of Plato’s cave panic here. You just moved the discussion to an entirely different time period and region so please provide the specifics. Also, what exactly is the evidence of the cooling of the earth’s climate at 9mya?

  97. #98 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    Sorry, are the Homo erectus specimens already ruled out? I didn’t catch that. You don’t want to give this a break at all, do you? I hate this chest pounding crap in human science.

    I can’t give you specimens of mid-miocine hominids right now, again, I’m not fully versed in this quite extensive catalogue. At the moment, this part of it is nothing more than a hunch, based on the Cunnane team’s nutrition arguments, coupled with this epoch of hominids who are suggested as possible mutual ancestors to Gorilla, Pan and Homo being found around the then Tethys and the Mediterranean.

    The warming of the Earth’s climate circa 15mya and subsequent cooling circa 9mya is geological and paleontological consensus, as I’m made aware of it. It’s also the only explanation for tropical greater ape forms being found as fossils as far North as Hungary, at the least; and the only explanation for how the ancestors of tropical orangutans managed to migrate from Africa to South East Asia in the span of half a dousin million years.

  98. #99 Greg Laden
    January 26, 2014

    I want to keep the discussion about real things we have in evidence. 1470 does not have teeth, only roots. You can certainly argue that Dmanisi is an aquatic adapted Homo of some sort but there is nothing aquatic looking about the fauna present. There are other homo of course.

    Nobody is chest pounding.

    I can’t think of many miocene Eurasian fossils that are found too close to the sea off hand. But I’m mostly familiar with the African record and Turkey. Again, you’d have to come up with specific cases to make your argument even a good hunch.

    I’m asking you to be specific about the warming and cooling because the history is actually very complex. For example, a warming at 15 and a cooling at 9 gloss many millions of years of climate change. There were two or three miggis warming periods at 15 million. There was a subsequent major cooling that actually ends around 9 million. Then warming. If you want to link specific fossils (types of apes/hominoids) with specific geographical regions and specific trends in climate and then suggest what specific things one might look for you need to get much more specific. The time period between 16 and 9 million years ago has about 45 or so oscillations in climate.

  99. #100 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    I can’t offer specific specimens from mid-Miocene right now. Only a half assed hunch. It’s also based on the notion, that large brained mammal families are most often aquatics, semiaquatics and former semiaquatics. Likely because of a nutrition bottleneck (which would be specific for mammals, somehow, aquatic birds and fish don’t grow large brains).

    Why else have hominids larger brains than most mammal families? An aquatic pressure would at least be tenable based on convergence.

  100. #101 Greg Laden
    January 26, 2014

    Do hippos have relatively large brains? I did t think that was the case.

  101. #102 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    Hippos feed off terrestrial grasses, being nocturnal feeders. No PUFA’s, no Iodine, therefore no big brain. I’ve encountered that question before.

  102. #103 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 26, 2014

    Quick link, not a proper source:
    http://animals.pawnation.com/hippos-eat-2933.html

  103. #104 Greg Laden
    January 26, 2014

    I’m very familiar with hippos, thanks.

    So what are three examples of mammals with large brains that are aquatic?

  104. #105 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 27, 2014

    Fully aquatic: Whales and dolphins
    Semiaquatic: Water shrews (largest brain to body ratio among all mammals, ten percent of body mass is brain, feeding off aquatic insects and the like)
    Past semiaquatic: Elephants

  105. #106 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 27, 2014

    You had your own blog entry about the semiaquatic evolution of elephants a while back. Therefore it’s kinda weird that you reject all notion of semiaquatic apes. If any ape of a medium size could be perceived to evolve into some level of aquaticism, how’d they turn out? First of all, they might loose their fur, wouldn’t they?

  106. #107 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    How does me reporting on elephant evolution require me to accept any particular notion about ape evolution?

    Anyway, whales and dolphins are not highly encephalized in the same way as large brained land mammals. They have large brains but a low density of neurons. Under water birth appears to account for this. The size related attributes of cetation and hominid brains are unrelated.

    Seals and sea lions do not seem to have exceptional brain sizes.

    Elephants, as far as I know, fall right on the mouse elephant curve!

    I don’t know about water shrew brain size offhand.

    What does fur have to do with what we are talking about?

  107. #108 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    Sorry about all the autocorrect mistakes

  108. #109 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 27, 2014

    Well, it’s just that you’re fine with the notion of another mammalian taxon being a past semiaquatic, even though they’re not obviously aquatic. But as soon as it’s about yourself (and coupled with this potential sociological crisis for academic anthropology, if an amateur scientist had a point and bla bla), then you run for the hills. There are reasons to consider elephants to be past semiaquatic, and ditto for humans.

    But it’s always different, when we’re talking about ourselves, ain’t it? That’s when we stampede straight into collective hysteria and grab the pitchforks. But I’m not asking you to embrace Homo aquaticism just because you have embraced Elephantidae aquaticism. I would ask you to embrace Homo aquaticism, if employing the scientific method supports it. (And because you take a shower every day, if you at all have access to the ressources.)

    The fur, I’m sorry, my head is all over the place, they say Niels Bohr had the same problem. I’ll try to stay on one topic at a time.

  109. #110 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Just thought it was important to note that whale/dolphin brains are completely different from other mammals.

    I’m drawing this from memory, so correct me if I’m wrong, but not only do they have a scattered looking cortex, unlike our neat layered cortex, but they also have a lot of axons, white matter. And if I remember correctly, that what sets humans apart is that we have a lot of white matter compared to other apes.

    So it doesn’t seem so crazy to wonder if seafood might make it easier to support a whole lot of axons. The link below doesn’t really cover what i am saying but it has an interesting point, and it also mentions elephants, like Chrisian was saying. It isn’t anything more than something to chew over. I don’t see any legs for the aquatic ape theory to stand on, but I do like watching this debate unfold, so I thought I’d try and add something to push it along.

    From the article at
    http://news.discovery.com/animals/whales-dolphins/dolphins-human-brain-120626.htm

    This leads to a chicken and egg-type question: Which came first, the big brain or the changes to metabolism?

    McGowen believes the latter evolved first.

    “The big brain needs fuel, so we would guess that the changes to metabolism enabled the evolution of a big brain,” he explained. “It’s interesting that we are seeing the same modifications to the same groups of genes in lineages with large brains—primates, cetaceans, elephants. These include metabolic genes that provide the fuel for a brain, seeing as nervous tissue requires a lot more energy than other cells.”

  110. #111 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    So, where does the Aquatic Ape Theory stand so far in this discussion? There seems to be three phases of examining the evidence.

    PHASE I

    We started off with tooth wear and isotope or trace element studies of hominids who would have represented about-to-get-or-just-starting-to-get big brains, with the idea of testing the hypothesis that living in a littoral/aquatic environment (and apparently having a certain diet within that environment) provided nutrients that would allow a large brain to grow.

    Two specimens were selected to see if this idea could be advanced,but one specimen, KNM-ER 1470, is famous, it turns out, for not having teeth (only roots). More careful selection of specimens in the future might be a good idea. The second specimen, Dmanisi “skull D” (there is no skull D but I think I figured out what was meant). But that specimen is associated with virtually zero evidence of an aquatic environment. The suggestion was made that perhaps Dmanisi was once a chain of islands in the middle of the ocean, but there is no evidence for this whatsoever. Of, indeed, Dmanisi were shown to have a particular tooth wear pattern or diet-related chemical signature, that signature could be ruled out as related to an “aquatic” phase because it was not living in an aquatic habitat.

    The result here is ambiguous, but not encouraging for at least two reasons.

    1)The fact that the majority of African fossils are not found in a littoral or even lacustrine environment is problematic for the hypothesis. Australopith grade hominids were probably over a large area of the continent, and many of them lived in areas where only small streams existed.

    2) Variation in brain size indicating the beginnings of encephalization are found in all the areas where late Miocene through early Pleistocene fossils are found, and there is not bias towards littoral or lacustrine habitats.

    So there isn’t any particular reason to link early increases in brain size with an aquatic habitat rich in certain nutrients.

    The fact that large brained humans live in a wide range of habitats and have done so for hundreds of thousands of years as Homo sapiens and longer as Homo spp suggests that if aquatic, littoral, or lacustrine habitats were essential and causal in respect to human evolution, this happened in a time and place for which there is virtually no evidence in the fossil record.

    The relationship between environments with brain-favoring nutrients and the history of a large brained organism is an intriguing idea but the hominid fossil record neither supports nor refutes it, at best, but really, seems to refute it.

  111. #112 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    PHASE II

    It was suggested that Miocene apes “left” Africa and diversified in Eurasia where they did so in relation to littoral or aquatic habitats, then returned to found the lineages of great apes in Africa.

    There are several problems with this suggestion. First, there is not evicence offered that Eurasian hominoid localities are littoral or lacustrine. The Pakastan materials are colluvial and riverine, so maybe there is a possiblility there, but one would have to look at specific localities and make the case. The Turkish material as far as I know is upland, so that is not likely to be related.

    More importantly though is the fact that we don’t think apes left Africa and diversified elsewhere and then returned to find the existing African lineages. Indeed, the relationship between Africa and non-Africa in the region is not simple. Also, climate change suggestions for this set of ideas are vague and refer to two climate changes over a ca 10 million year long time period during which there were dozens of climate shifts.

    Conclusion: This idea goes nowhere until it is based on actual knowledge of the geology and paleontology, etc.

  112. #113 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    PHASE II Brains

    The argument then shifted, again, to a different set of ideas about brains and diet. I’m not going to argue here against the specific suggestions made, but rather, straighten out some assertions about brain size because I think if this argument is to go anywhere it is going to have to address the facts.

    There are several groups of mammals that are currently aquatic . Of those there are two kinds, broadly: Those that give birth under water and those that don’t. Whales do, seals, sea lions, hippos, etc. do, for example.

    By and large those mammals that give birth under water have larger brains relative to the number of neurons they have in their brains. In other words, their brains are large but not filled with neurons, which may be an adaptation to limited access to O2 between birth and the early minutes of life, or something along those lines. Some of these mammals (i.e. dolphins and some but not all other toothed whales) are suggested to have large brains in relation to complex social behaviors and are thought of as highly intelligent. So there may be a relationship between brain size and intelligence and brain size and under water birth in those animals. But, linking brain size to intelligence is not simple.

    Toothed whales have relatively large brains, though sperm whales do not.

    Baleen whales have brains that are in line for ungulates; their brains are not especially big. The biggest baleen whales actually have small brains. The idea here is that baleen whales may have largish brains but the brain to body size relationship breaks down at large sizes. But, essentially, they are large cowfish. Even if they live in an environment where they have access to brainy nutrients, they are not making use of that.

    Seals and sea lions, which as carnivores could benefit from larger brains perhaps, and give birth on land so they don’t need this extra brain tissue that may not contribute to intelligence, have standard carnivore size brains. Despite a reasonable expectation that the many species of these large groups of carnivores would benefit from large brains, the idea that the littoral/marine environment would provide nutrients for the growth of such a brain does not seem to have made a difference. This does not falsify the hypothesis but it seems to not lend much support.

    It was suggested that water shrews have enormous brains. They don’t. All brain sizes must be considered in the larger context of brain to body size/mass relationships and phylogeny. Tiny mammals have relatively large brains until you adjust properly for size effects. Then their brains become average. Shrews have average brains sizes, and water shrews don’t have larger brains, though they do have some interesting differences in brain size of various part of their brains owing to shifts in their sensory modalities.

    Elephants have average size brains. Arguments for elephants being an example of aquatic and large brains have to account for the fact that a) they are not aquatic and b) they don’t have large brains. Although there is evidence that in the past elephants may have been semi-aquatic, there is no evidence of former largeness of the brains.

    Primates have large brains. The vast majority of primates species (and individuals) have nothing to do with aquatic habitats of any kind.

    The brain size argument goes nowhere.

    Still, there is an intriguing link between aquatic resources that would make it easier to have a large brain. But the causal relationship between being “aquatic” and large brained is weak, and the whole AAT seems to have virtually no support.

    Interestingly I can think of one case where littoral resources and large brains link up in a very nice way, possibly, and there may be data to allow the idea to be tested. But it is not really AAT related so I won’t bring it up here.

  113. #114 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 27, 2014

    *82: Quote Don Johnson

    “But can you entertain the idea that maybe more investigating and digging would be helpful?”

    Of course. Keep digging.

    Do you seriously think nobody is looking for fossils in coastal, estuarian, riparian, and lacustrine environments? Of course they are. It’s just that they’re not finding fossils of human ancestors among those fossil assemblages.

    “Trying to argue against data with only theory isn’t helpful, but is it so bad to have an idea lead to more investigating?”

    Who is arguing against investigating? By all means, please go investigate.

    “I would imagine people don’t go around digging aimlessly without a theory to guide.”

    Actually, there are plenty of people who dig in particular spots areas for no other reason than that it seems like the type of sediment that preserves fossils well.

    Anthropologists aren’t the only people digging for fossils. In fact, they’re a minority. A majority of fossil-seekers are paleontologists. And they would not overlook, ignore, or mischaracterize a hominid fossil if they found one. And there are paleontologists who specialize in coastal, riparian, lacustrine, and estuarian life. They’re just not finding hominin fossils in those areas.

    “When you say, “This is how the AAT works… And when you say “This is how science works…” Aren’t you forgetting that a hypothesis probably helped them look for those fossils and artifacts? It might be luck, but wasn’t there probably some conjecture somewhere?”

    You are mischaracterizing my point, hopefully by accident because I didn’t explain myself well. Allow me to try again.

    AATers have no hard evidence to support their story. All they have is their interpretation of modern human physical traits. They like to imagine that mainstream anthropology has no more evidence than they do, and is therefore on no better footing.

    They imagine that the argument goes like this:

    AAT: We think humans are aquatic because we have fat floaty babies.
    Antho: Well, we think humans are terrestrial and baby fat is an energy storage medium.
    AAT: We think humans are aquatic because we have hairless low-drag skin for swimming.
    Anthro: Well, we think humans are terrestrial and hairlessness is for thermoregulation.
    AAT: Oh, ya? Well we think….

    They think that the debate boils down to interpretation of modern human physical traits. AATers have their interpretation, and mainstream anthro has theirs, and that’s the end of it.

    But that isn’t the true nature of the debate. The real debate goes more like this:

    AAT: We think humans are aquatic because we have fat floaty babies.
    Antho: But all known or suspected human fossils are found hundreds of miles from any coast in open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland environments.
    AAT: Oh ya? Well, why are babies fat then?
    Anthro: Well, fat is an energy storage tissue. It’s probably because babies have unique challenges when it comes to energy use.
    AAT: That doesn’t make any sense! Why won’t you even consider the aquatic explanation? You’re so biased!

    Do you get the point? AATers have their interpretation of modern human traits, and that’s it. That’s what their story is based on. And they imagine that anthro is nothing more than a competing story based on a different interpretation of modern human traits.

    But that isn’t the case. Sure, anthropologists have theories about the evolution of various human traits. But at the root of modern anthropology are the fossils and artifacts demonstrating where human ancestors lived.

    AATers have no independently verifiable empirical evidence to support their story. Mainstream anthro does.

    “From the posts you are making, it would seem like we have it all figured out. Is that the case?”

    Once again, a mischaracterization of my post. You say you have no horse in this race, but I’m getting the feeling you support the AAT. If not, why misrepresent what I’m saying?

    We certainly DON’T “have it all figured out”. But the fact that we don’t know everything doesn’t erase the things we DO know. And we DO know plenty. One thing we DO know is that the fossils of all known human ancestors from 6 mya to the present are found in open woodland, wooded grassland, or grassland (Cerling 2011).

    This doesn’t support any version of the AAT. it does support mainstream anthro.

  114. #115 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    But don’t overstate the lack of fossils in lacustrine settings. There are some. The latest from Ishango is one, olduvai gorge is a lake-side environment, etc. It’s just that it is nothing like a majority and there isn’t anything marine at al that I can think of.

    I just got this from the Dmanisi crew: There is a lake in the vicinity of Dmanisi. But there is almost zero evidence of any link between the lake and the site, i.e, aquatic animal fossils. There may be one fish bone, tops.

    So Dmanisi is a case where “proto homo” or whatever you want to call it had the opportunity to use lake resources but seems to not have.

    Also, that would be one of those “volcanic lakes” in that it was probably a valley dammed by a lava flow or something along those lines.

  115. #116 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014


    Do you get the point? AATers have their interpretation of modern human traits, and that’s it. That’s what their story is based on. And they imagine that anthro is nothing more than a competing story based on a different interpretation of modern human traits.

    It might be fair to say that about Christian, going on this thread here. But that might be a misrepresentation of ‘AAT’ers. Of which I am definitely not one. The reason why I like this debate is because I think it’s just a little bit entertaining.

    I hope you can understand that. I am not supporting Christian because I think he is right, I’m just offering some support because I thought it is interesting to note that although Greg makes the point that “In other words, their brains are large but not filled with neurons,” though it is actually a trait we have more in common with those whales. The fact that they have more connections amongst their neurons is what makes them smart. It is also what makes us smart. And going off the simple little magazine reference I made earlier, it might be worth looking into the evidence our similar changes in metabolism. It’s just something interesting I wanted to point.

  116. #117 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    What is the evidence for whales/dolphins having more connections, and for this making them smarter?

  117. #118 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    You’re right Greg. It is a generalization. But you keep making the point that whales/dolphin don’t have big brains, only a large amount of axons.

    But that is what we find in common amongst intelligent brains.

    A large amount of white matter in proportion to grey, meaning that they have higher proportion of axons to neurons, meaning a larger number of interconnections amongst neurons.

    So what I’m trying to say is that computing power comes from a large number of synapses. Not just neurons. Yet you keep making the point that whales have less neurons and more synapses and implying that this makes them less like human brains. The opposite is true, they are more like human brains in this case. Although their brains do have a completely different architecture.

    I do believe you’ll find that the brains with intelligent behavior have more connections, and not just more neurons.

    So I think it is interesting that you said
    “By and large those mammals that give birth under water have larger brains relative to the number of neurons they have in their brains. ”

    A larger brain relative to the number of neurons would mean that there is more axons, and thus more connections amongst those neurons. It is a generalization that this makes brains smarter, but I’m sy synapses perform computation, and not neurons.

  118. #119 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    I accidentally thumbed over the submit button before I edited that last post. Sorry I repeated myself so much

  119. #120 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    “You’re right Greg. It is a generalization. But you keep making the point that whales/dolphin don’t have big brains, only a large amount of axons.”

    I’ve not made that point, that is not what I’ve said. In fact, the number of axons can’t be large in whale cerebra, as the number of neurons is low and you only get one axon per neuron!

    I think what is happening here is that you’ve conflated “white matter” with “axons” It is true that the white matter is where you ‘ll find more axonal tissue than soma, but white matter itself is not axons, it is myelin. (But white matter also has glial cells.)

  120. #121 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 27, 2014

    Quote #83: Chris

    “Again, the fossils are found from then wet sediments, and you’re saying that they lived nowhere near water.”

    That is not what I said. And you know that is not what I said. What do we call it, Chris, when people say something they know isn’t true? If you had a worthwhile argument, why would you have to argue it by saying things you know aren’t true, Chris?

    1) Basic taphonomy demonstrates that virtually all fossils are laid down by the action of water. All fossils, Chris. The fossils of giraffes, hyenas, lions, etc.

    Hominin fossils are found associated with animals such as giraffids, hyenas, big cats, and other fully terrestrial animals. In fact, some fossil assemblages in which human ancestors are found, include NO aquatic animals at all.

    If being found in sediments laid down by the action of water makes hominins aquatic, then it also makes hyenas, giraffes, etc., aquatic.

    Does this make giraffes aquatic, Chris? No, it doesn’t. And you know it doesn’t, because this we’ve had this conversation about 10 times already.

    But here you are making the same exact argument with no alterations, updates, or improvements whatsoever.

    Why is it you are incapable of learning, Chris?

    “And I’m proposing that geology looks at the paleogeography of the East African landscape during these key eras of human evolution.”

    People have done this, Chris. Why do you imagine they haven’t? The fact that YOU are an ignoramus doesn’t mean that EVERYONE is, Chris.

    You know that paper I’ve been citing for years? The one by Cerling et al? Guess what they did, Chris? You shouldn’t have to guess because I’ve been telling you for years.

    They did paelosol studies, Chris. Do you know what that is? I know you do, because I’ve been telling you for years. And guess what they found out. You shouldn’t have to guess because I’ve been telling you for years. They found out that the paleoenvironment in which all known human ancestors have been recovered was open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland.

    You may find a geologist who says what you want to hear, Chris. But it won’t change the fact that EXTENSIVE paleosol studies done on the very soils in the immediate environment around which hominin fossils were found were open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland.

    No swamps. No wetlands.

    Why is it that you can’t remember these details Chris? I’ll bet any amount of money that you make this same argument again in a future discussion, unaltered, as if you were bringing it up for the first time and nobody had ever said anything to you about it. We call this “delusion”, Chris.

    “And anthropology is prone to put too much emphasis on them bone hunters.”

    You have no fucking clue how the scientific method applies to anthropology.

    “Where we need to consider other academic disciplines other than fossil hunting, for instance good ol’ convergent analysis…”

    You are in no position to make any statements about “convergent analysis”, Chris. Whether a given trait is “convergent” is the domain of comparative anatomy, comparative functional morphology, comparative physiology and biochemistry etc. Do you possess any knowledge in these areas? Do you know anyone who does?

    “We are slaves to the fourth dimension here, evidence gets lost in the eons. Especially related to the soft tissues of the human body, which are key in the aquatic debate, tissues which doesn’t fossilize (unless we stumple on an Archeopteryx-like hominin fossil one day, which is not bloody likely).”

    Excuses about why you have no evidence does not excuse you for not having it.

    “In the last paper of this life, Philip Tobias…”

    Tobias believed that humans domesticated wooly mammoths and rode on their backs across the sea.

    He believed plenty of nonsense for which there is no evidence. He doesn’t matter who he was or what he did. If he believes things for which there is no evidence, then those ideas are still without evidence.

    “his is your own giant. If you don’t want to listen to peasant me, then listen to your own aristocracy.”

    This isn’t how science works, you fool. That’s the whole point. THERE IS NO ARISTOCRASY. Evidence rules the day. It doesn’t matter who someone is if he believes things for which there is no evidence.

  121. #122 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg,

    You are right, white matter is not all axon. But it is wrong to say that “white matter itself is not axons, it is myelin.” We can generalize: white matter is axon, grey matter is neuron/soma. Axons cannot be axons without myelin, so yes there is myelin in white matter. Along with many other support cells.

    “the number of axons can’t be large in whale cerebra,”

    I’m not just talking about large whales. Like you said earlier, the bigger whales look more like whale-cows.

    “you only get one axon per neuron! ” Sorry I did say number of axons, but I should be saying amount of axon. To clarify, I am thinking about volume. By volume there is more axon per neuron, and this supports more synapses. Why are you yelling?

    If you know how the brain works, you’ll understand that its power comes from the complexity of synapses and not the number of neurons. Relative volume of white matter (axons, myelin, and glial cells) seems to be connected to intelligence because it supports more synapses. And this feature is something that makes us more like whale/dolphin, not less, as you have been saying.

  122. #123 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    I like the idea of giraffes being aquatic. It makes total sense because they are like giant periscopes!

    :)

  123. #124 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    ” But it is wrong to say that “white matter itself is not axons, it is myelin.” We can generalize: white matter is axon, grey matter is neuron/soma. Axons cannot be axons without myelin, so yes there is myelin in white matter. ”

    ^^^ This simply isn’t accurat. Axons exist without white matter. The “white” that makes white matter white is not axons, but it is myelin.

    ““you only get one axon per neuron! ” Sorry I did say number of axons, but I should be saying amount of axon. To clarify, I am thinking about volume. By volume there is more axon per neuron, and this supports more synapses. Why are you yelling?”

    Nobody is yelling. I think I’m totally missing your point, though. How is more axons more synapses? Also, the “amount of axon” is not clear.

    “If you know how the brain works, you’ll understand that its power comes from the complexity of synapses and not the number of neurons. Relative volume of white matter (axons, myelin, and glial cells) seems to be connected to intelligence because it supports more synapses. And this feature is something that makes us more like whale/dolphin, not less, as you have been saying.”

    I have a vague idea of how the brain works having taught neuroanatomy for years and being a bioanthropologist and stuff.

    Your statement that white matter is associated with higher intelligence, vs. grey matter, is simply incorrect. It is expansion of cortical tissue, which is grey matter, that is the hallmark of hominid brain expansion as it relates to all that smart humany stuff we do

    White matter is not linked to increased synapses. Synapses happen at neural soma or dendrites (and the terminus of an axon). The white matter part is not where that action happens.

  124. #125 OHSU
    January 27, 2014

    Quote #115 Greg

    “But don’t overstate the lack of fossils in lacustrine settings.”

    Please understand the context of my comment. Don was implying that the reason anthropologists find fossils associated with open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland is that they only look for them there. His suggestion is that if they were more open-minded they would also look for them in watery environments, and then maybe they’d find them there.

    My point is that there are plenty of people looking for fossils in watery environments.

    Do they find human fossils there? Sorta. As I said before, virtually all fossils are initially buried by the action of water. So, virtually all animals that end up fossilized died near a body of water.

    This is as true of giraffids and hyenas as of hominins.

    Giraffids are recovered from “lacustrine settings”. Obviously, this doesn’t make giraffes aquatic.

  125. #126 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014


    ^^^ This simply isn’t accurat. Axons exist without white matter. The “white” that makes white matter white is not axons, but it is myelin.

    Axons do exist without white matter, but I said they don’t exist without myelin.

    So yes, myelin is ‘white’ but I am telling you that the reason why there is myelin in white matter is because that is what axons need. The myelin is there to support the axons. Myelin is there for the axons. Myelin isn’t just making white matter white.

    Axons can make synapses anywhere (axon to axon or axon to dendrite), but you are correct most of the computation is done in grey matter / near the soma at a synapse between axon and dendrite.


    I think I’m totally missing your point, though. How is more axons more synapses? Also, the “amount of axon” is not clear.

    Cool, lets see if I can get this across. Think about the fact that complexity comes from having more synapse/neuron. Therefore, to have a more complex brain, you would expect to have more white matter for the grey matter, and not just more grey matter.

    That is because if you add more axon (volume or area), you support more synapse. If you simply add more neurons, you actually get less synapses per neuron and less complexity.

    Maybe the misunderstanding is coming from the fact that one soma = one axon. But what you have to realize is that an axon isn’t a straight line between two points/soma. It can make as many connections as necessary, as long as there is enough support (myelin and glial cells). And therefore more axon allows more synapse per neuron and thus more complexity.

    The fact that there is more “white” matter doesn’t just mean there is more myelin, which seems to be your understanding. There is actually more connections between neurons in the human brain.

    So an increase in white matter can support a greater number of synapses per neuron.

  126. #127 OHSU
    January 27, 2014

    Quote #116 Don

    “It might be fair to say that about Christian, going on this thread here. But that might be a misrepresentation of ‘AAT’ers.”

    It is not enough to simply say that I “might” have misrepresented some unnamed AATer with some unspecified argument.

    If you feel that I have done so, please name that person and his argument.

    I have debated Algis Kuliukas, Mark Verhaegen, Chris, Chak, DavidMc, and many others. They all have the same m.o.

    If you feel that there is one somewhere with some real evidence and a different approach, then let’s hear who that person is.

    “I thought it is interesting to note that although Greg makes the point that “In other words, their brains are large but not filled with neurons,” though it is actually a trait we have more in common with those whales. The fact that they have more connections amongst their neurons is what makes them smart. It is also what makes us smart. And going off the simple little magazine reference I made earlier, it might be worth looking into the evidence our similar changes in metabolism. It’s just something interesting I wanted to point.”

    If something like this were used to support the AAT (and AATers do, in fact, make arguments like this) it would be a classic circular argument. The supposedly aquatic traits themselves (whatever you imagine them to be) cannot ever be evidence for the theory.

    Observation: Human brains have something in common with cetacean brains.
    Hypothesis: Humans evolved in a marine environment.
    Evidence: Human brains have something in common with cetacean brains.

    In order to break the circularity, you need a piece of tangible, reproducible, empirical evidence that places human ancestors in the time and place where they could have been subjected to the selection pressures you propose. Simply pointing to a feature and proposing that it looks aquatic (even proposing that it looks REALLY aquatic) does not constitute any kind of evidence.

    This is especially true when you consider that all known hominin fossils come from fully terrestrial paleoenvironments.

  127. #128 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    “Do they find human fossils there? Sorta. As I said before, virtually all fossils are initially buried by the action of water. So, virtually all animals that end up fossilized died near a body of water.”

    I would add to that, though, that for the most part the fossils found in the Transvaal Caves and most/all other South African cave sites, which make up the majority of the hominid fossils, are not linked to wet environments and are probably preserved by having been mummified or desiccated to begin with, though some are covered with capstone, though that’s probably not a good aquatic adaptation!

  128. #129 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    OHSU:

    “Don was implying that the reason anthropologists find fossils associated”

    No, that’s not quite it. Don’t make references to what I said if you aren’t going to characterize it correctly.

    I said more like the opposite of what you were saying. I said that people are usually lead to digging because they DO have an open mind, a hypothesis or a hunch.

  129. #130 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    “Axons do exist without white matter, but I said they don’t exist without myelin.”

    That is simply not true. Unmyelinated axons are a thing. They usually are myelinated but they can certain “exist” without it, and there are functional reasons for this to happen during development … for axons to exist unmyelinated.

    “The myelin is there to support the axons. Myelin is there for the axons. Myelin isn’t just making white matter white.”

    To support the axons? You keep using this word Myelin. I’m not sure it means what you think it means.

    “That is because if you add more axon (volume or area), you support more synapse.”

    No you don’t. More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain. This does not necessarily relate to the complexity of “computational” connections. The best association with more computation connections is bulk of grey matter, not “amount” of white matter.

    “The fact that there is more “white” matter doesn’t just mean there is more myelin, which seems to be your understanding. ”

    The thing that makes “white matter” distinct anatomically is myelin. But that really isn’t important.

    I’m very uncomfortable with the phrases you are using … “more axon equals more synapse” … these are not abstract nouns referring to something that is an “amount” … an axon ins a thing, a synapse is a thing.

    Also, myelin does play a role in “supporting” axons to some extent (mechanically) but that is not its primary function.

  130. #131 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    “Observation: Human brains have something in common with cetacean brains.
    Hypothesis: Humans evolved in a marine environment.
    Evidence: Human brains have something in common with cetacean brains.”

    Right, that’s circular. It is also anatomically incorrect. Human brains and whale brains don’t have much in common and are very different, as different as any two sets of brains from distantly related mammals, really. There are a couple of apparent convergences on traits that aren’t really traits, and “size” is one of them. Human brains and SOME (but not most) whale brains converge in terms of relative size but for entirely different reasons so it simply isn’t the same trait.

    That resources rich in aquatic environments would be helpful in growing a big brain is nice, but the fact that large brained humans have lived away from aquatic environments most of the time and in most of the places means that it is a convenience and not a necessary condition for large brains. If there was any other evidence to link early humans to littoral environments thus adding a “bridge” to a larger brain I’d be into the idea to some extent, with humans exploiting aquatic environments. But the archaeological evidence suggests this is relatively late in human evolution.

    Once humans are out there running around being humans, those exploiting animal tissues in aquatic environments, etc, may have some cool stuff going on, but that’s not what the AAT is suggesting at all.

    Or, maybe in some form, it is!/!?

  131. #132 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    From wikipedia
    Myelin is a dielectric (electrically insulating) material that forms a layer, the myelin sheath, usually around only the axon of a neuron. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

    Myelin allows axons to carry a charge efficiently. Without it, axons are really bad at being axons.

    More axon = More synapse. How is that making you uncomfortable? Synapses happen along the surface of axons. The more you have of it, the more synapse. Why are you trying to get me on technicalities like, ‘these are not abstract nouns referring to something that is an “amount” … an axon ins a thing, a synapse is a thing. ” What do you mean by that?

  132. #133 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    “More axon = More synapse” is so gramatically incorrect that it makes me worried that you have no idea what you are saying, that’s all. But I see now that you’v looked up what Myelin is, so that’s good!

    Synapses don’t happen “along the surfaces of axons” though.

    ” The more you have of it, the more synapse. ”

    No, it does not work that way.

    “Why are you trying to get me on technicalities ”

    The anatomy of neurons IS NOT A TECHNICALITY. (OK, sorry for yelling.)

    Please read the chapter or two from a basic textbook on neurons.

  133. #134 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    No you don’t. More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain.

    YOU JUST SAID IT YOURSELF. More connections = more synapses.

  134. #135 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    No I don’t what?

    You are very thoroughly making a fool of yourself. You have shifted from simply not knowing what you are talking about to trying to make the incorrect stuff you said fit. It is a little embarrassing.

    This really is the point where if you were my student in a neuroanatomy class we’d spend an hour at the blackboard going over it. Or, I’d send you off to read a couple of chapters i your book and ask you to write down questions then we’d reconvene at the blackboard. You really need to get a basic clue of what a neuron is and how neural tissues are organized in mammalian brains, etc. etc.

  135. #136 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg, the way you are talking, I also have doubts about your understanding of how the brain works. But I’m not going to make that attack against you, regardless of how comfortable you are with that tactic.

    Yes, synapses occur all over the place, not just at the junction of axons and dendrites as is classically thought.

    And you are couching the point I made in the first place.

    Despite huge differences in architecture, we are more similar to dolphin than apes in the proportion of white to grey matter.

  136. #137 OHSU
    January 27, 2014

    Quote #129 Don

    “No, that’s not quite it. Don’t make references to what I said if you aren’t going to characterize it correctly. ”

    Perhaps you should try writing more clearly, Don.

    This is what you said:

    “I just want to ask a question, wasn’t that information you are referring to gathered with the idea that apes went into the plains. It was supported by the data we first stumbled upon and dug up, and it’s been the general framework since the beginning, right?”

    So, we stumbled onto some fossils and dug them up, and those original circumstances have been the framework for our approach ever since.

    You also said:

    “I would imagine people don’t go around digging aimlessly without a theory to guide.”

    So, we have ideas and those ideas guide us on where to dig. Mainstream anthropologists expect to find fossils in particular terrestrial environments, so that’s where they dig..

    “I said more like the opposite of what you were saying.”

    No. Not really.

    ” I said that people are usually lead to digging because they DO have an open mind, a hypothesis or a hunch.”

    That was one of the things you said. It certainly wasn’t the whole of what you said.

  137. #138 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg that was a quote I took from you, post #130

    you said:

    No you don’t. More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain. ”

    the overall number of connections in the brain. You said it yourself.

  138. #139 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Quit trying to embarrass me. You really are a bully.

  139. #140 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    Don, I’m not trying to embarrass you at all. You absolutely do not need help with that.

  140. #141 OHSU
    January 27, 2014

    Quote # 136 Don

    “Despite huge differences in architecture, we are more similar to dolphin than apes in the proportion of white to grey matter.”

    For the sake of argument I’m going to accept this as 100% true. Ok, so what? What does that have to do with anything? What possible rational conclusion would you or anyone else draw from that regarding the environment in which humans evolved?

  141. #142 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg was making a big deal about how cetaceans don’t have more neurons, just bigger brains. So it was something I thought I should point out.

  142. #143 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg, thanks.

    I’m glad that’s how your response when I tell you that you actually agree with me.

  143. #144 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    Don, please don’t claim that you and I are agreeing on the neurobiology here.

  144. #145 OHSU
    January 27, 2014

    Quote #142: Don

    “So it was something I thought I should point out.”

    Why? How is it relevant to this discussion?

  145. #146 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    How are we not agreeing?

    In your words, from post #130:

    More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain. ”

    Number of connections between regions of the brain is referring to the number of synapses. White matter tells you something about the number of synapses per neuron.

  146. #147 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    “””
    No you don’t. More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain. ”

    the overall number of connections in the brain. You said it yourself.
    “””

    Actually this is an interesting point. Cetacean and human brains are essentially organized the same way (because they are both mammals) at the gross level. But different areas of the brain which are connected to each other (more or less) by nerve fibers (mainly myelinated axons) may be more or less connected to each other. The difference between “more” or “less” is usually small because we are talking about absolute numbers of axons (in cross section). Increasing “connectivity” by increasing soma number in grey matter gets you way more than increasing cross sectional area of axon bundles.

    In any event, you are claiming that dolphins have more white matter than human (relatively). But you conflated my point about different areas of the brain with that (probably incorrectly, though I don’t have a cetacean brain in front of me!) but in fact the opposite is true in the case of whales. Dolphins, at least, and I think other whales, have fewer connections between hemispheres (the main inter-grey area connection in terms of amount of neurons in a mammal) than humans by a large margin. In fact, it might be the case that some, many, or even all (but no one has looked at all) whales have, essentially, two brains, one of which is on at a given time the other one sleeping. In a very simple version of that one could think of dolphin brains as being half the size of fully bilateral human brains (but many humans are lateralized to some degree to that would be the extreme comparison).

    The bottom line is this: Thinking, intelligence, etc. etc. is a function of the cerebral tissues, which are grey matter, and the amount of cerebral tissue all else being equal corresponds within mammals to what we might think of as “intelligence” … but for whales we must divide roughly by two when using volume as a proxy to compare the overall neural number (encephalization, effectively) because they have roughly half the density of neurons, apparently owing to this problem of giving birth under water.

    I think I said most of that above but I thought it was worth a further clarification.

    While I’m clarifying, also this: The amount of white matter increasing does not increase the connectivity along axons. It is not true that more white matter equals more “axon” which equals more connections. Connections are rare along myelinated axons. There is not a correspondence between “amount of myelinated axon” and “amount of connections”

  147. #148 UillF
    Scotland
    January 27, 2014

    Don

    The neuron density of a dolphin brain is similar to that of a chimpanzee, it is doubtful that puts it on the same level as the human brain.

    An extensive telephone network (white matter) … that connects fewer computers (grey matter areas of the brain) is not in the same league.

  148. #149 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 27, 2014

    I’m just gonna vent another pixie from my head, ’cause otherwise they come out and beat me at night with sledgehammers. Is human Academia even considering the possibility, that we, Homo sapiens, are _not_ the most intelligent species on this planet? I’m not saying we’re not, but I’ve seen references to the current EQ equations suggesting values too low or too high for some species, depending on the observable tasks, they can perform. Like, for instance elephants often gets a number too low compared to the problems, they can solve. I’m just sometimes wondering, if the contemporary EQ equations have been inadvertently distorted to ensure, that Homo sapiens always ends with a top score? I mean, it’s Homo sapiens themselves defining these equations, ain’t it? I mean, talk about an identity crisis bigger than the theory of evolution, if somehow we should not be the brigthest protoplasm in the Universe?

  149. #150 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg why do you have to get to this
    “You are very thoroughly making a fool of yourself. You have shifted from simply not knowing what you are talking about to trying to make the incorrect stuff you said fit. It is a little embarrassing. ”
    before responding to me with some facts and some dignity.

    “trying to make the incorrect stuff you said fit” was never something I did. Please show me where/how, and don’t just accuse me of it.

    “The amount of white matter increasing does not increase the connectivity along axons”

    I brought up axon-axon synapses because the classic view says it doesn’t work that way, but new evidence shows axon to axon activity, and the reverse of the classical view, dendrite to axon action potentials! Neat.

    I never said that synapses are made along myelinated axon! That would be stupid. But having more myelinated axon does tell you something about the connectivity of those neurons.

    As I already stated, the synapses are in the grey matter. But those synapses are made by axons connecting cells via white matter. Hence, white matter is axons. You keep making a big deal about me saying this, but you are wrong. White matter is white because axons need myelin, and myelin is white. When you read a text book and they refer to ‘white matter’ don’t think myelin, think axons.

    So, more white matter does not simply mean more myelin! There is more myelin because there is more axon. Look at a squid optic nerve, the axon from the eye to brain is huge and has a lot of myelin insulation. More white matter, not more neurons in the eye, give them really fast and really good visual computation. Its really basic brain science.

    This is a generalization, but it follows that more white matter = more connections among regions = more synapses. And I’m not saying that there is more region inter connectivity in particular, just more axon connecting neurons. I know you hate it when I refer to ‘axon’ like its a cup of flour in a recipe. But I really think you are using that complaint to argue against facts. And it doesn’t work.

    You just made a huge effort to argue against me. Yet you keep ignoring what I am actually saying. The amount of white matter in relation to grey tells you something about about the complexity of the brain. The idea that more neurons lead to more computing power is outdated. You still seem to think that this is the case.

    Do you see why white matter tells about the complexity of the brain, why it does say something about synapses per neuron?

    And this is something you have failed to address in your attempts to squash me. Why don’t you try having a discussion.

  150. #151 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    Christian:

    I don’t think the equations are rigged. EQ is a simple relationship between anatomical parts. But it is true that “intelligence” (which is a word we should always put in quotes because it does not have a good definition) that is not “human intelligence” may be hard to recognize. Also, there are some animals with lager relative brain sizes, or brain sizes similar to humans. In particular, capuchin monkeys, for example. Which is why you often see them walking around with their pet organ grinder.

  151. #152 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Agreed UillF.

    What I think is neat is that to add complexity, we added more telephones, not just more computers. And that is what smart brains share in common. Not just more computers, but more telephone for each one of those computers.

    Back to the discussion in general, I only made this point because Greg was saying that we are distinct from whale and dolphin due to their white to grey ratio. But we actually share that strategy in common, and it is one of the few distinctions between humans and other apes. We have more white to grey matter.

    This doesn’t mean AAT. It’s just interesting, and I wanted to clarify since it was being discussed. Not fight about white matter and who it is that needs to read up on the brain.

  152. #153 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    Axo-axonal synapses have been known since before I started to study neurobiology, and they are not numerous at all in the white matter. The white matter is just not a place where there are very many connections. Dendrite spikes are somewhat more recently known of (5-10 years, probably closer to 5) but this has nothing to do with what we are talking about. It is not something that happens in white matter.

    Also, you didn’t “bring up” Axo-axonal synapses. You didn’t understand basic neuroanatomy and got all confused then, and this is good, you did what I suggested and read up on some of it. Good for you.

    “I never said that synapses are made along myelinated axon! That would be stupid. But having more myelinated axon does tell you something about the connectivity of those neurons.”

    You said “they also have a lot of axons, white matter. And if I remember correctly, that what sets humans apart is that we have a lot of white matter compared to other apes.” and ” Relative volume of white matter (axons, myelin, and glial cells) seems to be connected to intelligence because it supports more synapses.”and “More axon = More synapse. ” and ” I should be saying amount of axon. To clarify, I am thinking about volume. By volume there is more axon per neuron, and this supports more synapses. Why are you yelling?” and “And therefore more axon allows more synapse per neuron and thus more complexity.”

    So you can see where I thought you were confused.

    “So, more white matter does not simply mean more myelin! ”

    Well, generally speaking, in mammalian brains there are two kinds of neural tissue; grey matter which is almost all soma and related cells and white matter which is almost all myelin (by volume) because white matter is in fact myelinated axons. That is simply the way it is, and I’m sorry if you’ve got a different version in your head. Or, more properly, in your mind. Because the neurobiology in your head is the same as in a dolphin, any other human or a water shrew!

    “But I really think you are using that complaint to argue against facts. And it doesn’t work.”

    I’m not arguing against any facts here. The most important fact,s I think, in this discussion, are that we assume a connection between neural connectivity and number and “intelligence” and within a given group of mammals this is seen and indirectly estimated as a measure of encepahlization, which means, how big is the brain, but with the aim at measuring how much grey matter there is in the cerebrum. But when we measure this for dolphins we have to consider that the density of neural bodies in the dolphin brain is something like half what it is in the human brains, so they get a discount. But not the good kind of discount.

    Another fact, one that actually relates to the AAT, is that all sorts of encephaized hominid fossils are found in regions where there just is no littoral or large volcanic lake resource, and even in the one case discussed above where there is an earlyish Homo sp near a lake, it seems that there is zero evidence that the lake was used.

    There are interesting things that connect littoral/(possibly lake) resources and brains in humans. Too bad the AAT people don’t see what they may be!

    “You just made a huge effort to argue against me.”

    No, it was quite effortless, and I’m not arguing against you. I’m just insisting that you get your facts straight, and I might be disagreeing with your conclusions, though it is a bit difficult to see what the conclusions are.

    “The amount of white matter in relation to grey tells you something about about the complexity of the brain. ”

    The complexity is in the grey matter. As far as we know the best estimate of braininess (functionally) is amount of grey matter IN THE CEREBRUM. Other measures are shown to vary across mammals a great deal with no link to what we might think of as intelligence. So, no, white matter isn’t really that relevant as a measure. If anything it is an indirect measure of something we can measure directly.

    “Do you see why white matter tells about the complexity of the brain, why it does say something about synapses per neuron?”

    In the cerebrum, which is the part that matters, the vast majority of connectivity is among the cells in the grey matter. So, no.

    “And this is something you have failed to address in your attempts to squash me. Why don’t you try having a discussion.”

    I’m not trying to squash you. I just refuse to by into a version of neuroanatomy that I know is wrong.

  153. #154 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    “In the cerebrum, which is the part that matters, the vast majority of connectivity is among the cells in the grey matter. So, no. ”

    That’s a good point. And I see now why you still believe that white matter doesn’t tell you much about the amount of connectivity.

    And even in this last comment, you can’t put your pride aside. I didn’t look anything up Greg, this is all stuff I learned in cog sci class. You just misrepresented what I was saying because you want to believe I am wrong. I don’t know why you are going on and on about synapses in white matter. I never said anything like that.

    Post #124 you say: “Synapses happen at neural soma or dendrites (and the terminus of an axon).”

    Post #126 I respond: “Axons can make synapses anywhere (axon to axon or axon to dendrite), but you are correct most of the computation is done in grey matter / near the soma at a synapse between axon and dendrite.”

    Now you say
    “you didn’t “bring up” Axo-axonal synapses. You didn’t understand basic neuroanatomy and got all confused then, and this is good, you did what I suggested and read up on some of it. Good for you.”

    Yes, I did bring up axon-axon to clarify. No I didn’t have anything confused, and I didn’t change what I was saying after looking anything up. What are you talking about? And the way you say all that just REEKS of arrogance.

  154. #155 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Hey look Greg, white matter does tell you something about ‘intelligence’.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22614288

    Brain white matter tract integrity as a neural foundation for general intelligence. Penke L
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22614288

    From the Abstract:
    Some neuronal correlates of intelligence have been discovered, mainly indicating that larger cortices in widespread parieto-frontal brain networks and efficient neuronal information processing support higher intelligence. However, there is a lack of established associations between general intelligence and any basic structural brain parameters that have a clear functional meaning. Here, we provide evidence that lower brain-wide white matter tract integrity exerts a substantial negative effect on general intelligence through reduced information-processing speed….
    Using quantitative tractography, we measured fractional anisotropy and two white matter integrity biomarkers that are novel to the study of intelligence: longitudinal relaxation time (T1) and magnetisation transfer ratio. Substantial correlations among 12 major white matter tracts studied allowed the extraction of three general factors of biomarker-specific brain-wide white matter tract integrity. Each was independently associated with general intelligence, together explaining 10% of the variance, and their effect was completely mediated by information-processing speed. Unlike most previously established neurostructural correlates of intelligence, these findings suggest a functionally plausible model of intelligence, where structurally intact axonal fibres across the brain provide the neuroanatomical infrastructure for fast information processing within widespread brain networks, supporting general intelligence.

  155. #156 Don Johnson
    January 27, 2014

    Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014 #153
    “we assume a connection between neural connectivity and number and “intelligence” and within a given group of mammals this is seen and indirectly estimated as a measure of encepahlization, which means, how big is the brain, but with the aim at measuring how much grey matter there is in the cerebrum.”

    That is an old way of looking at the brain. Like I have been trying to tell you, the connectivity of the brain is much more important than the simple number of neurons/soma (which make up grey matter), and as of more recently the white matter has been looked at as a way of measuring connectivity (not directly but comparatively). I didn’t have to look that up, an intro brain science class will tell you that much.

    So let’s go back to that blackboard Greg :)
    I’m not trying to be an ass. I just want to have a discussion with you, and you thought that doing a little reading might be best. Now we can talk.

    The complexity is in the grey matter, you are right, and we have been been agreeing there. But white matter tells you about connectivity. And more connectivity gives you more complexity in the grey matter. It’s the point I’ve been driving home all night.

    A large number of neurons doesn’t make a smart brain.
    A large number of well-connected neurons does.
    More neurons alone won’t help. Hence the importance of white matter. More axon does tell you something.

  156. #157 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2014

    Don, the neural foundation for G is interesting and all, but that is a within species comparison. We know that making comparisons of various aspects of brain anatomy has to be done with proper reference to phylogeny. That has underlain much of the discussion on this thread. For example, the mistaken concepts that elephants have large brains, water shrews have way large brains, and that dolphins have human-size/organized brains are all based on improper reference to phylogenetic context. Applying a paper that discused white matter in relation to g in humans is also an example of that.

    Also, that research has other problems but that would be a major side track. It is interesting, though.

    “That is an old way of looking at the brain. Like I have been trying to tell you, the connectivity of the brain is much more important than the simple number of neurons/soma (which make up grey matter), and as of more recently the white matter has been looked at as a way of measuring connectivity (not directly but comparatively). I didn’t have to look that up, an intro brain science class will tell you that much.”

    So far I’ve not seen a single thing that has looked at anything other than brain size or encephalization in the AAT discussion, so while connectivity is truly important it hasn’t been part of it. There are actually good reasons for that. At some point the conversation has to involve fossils. There are no fMRI’s of fossil species.

    “A large number of neurons doesn’t make a smart brain.
    A large number of well-connected neurons does. More neurons alone won’t help”

    That’s one of those statements that sounds right but is actually fairly meaningless. There rally isn’t any such thing as “more neurons” alone. There are no unconnected neruons to speak of.

    And again, regarding your fixation on white matter, that is not related to what we are talking about except to a small degree. That is not what white matter is. “Intelligence” or smartness or whatever you want to call it is not about inter-regional connections (where the white matter is) it is about cerebral function, except in the matter of inter-hemispheric connection which is only part of the bigger picture.

    I think at this point I’ve said the same exact thing two to four times in total for each of these points.

  157. #158 Don Johnson
    January 28, 2014

    Greg, the statements you’ve made express common misconceptions about brain function.

    Your statement that white matter is associated with higher intelligence, vs. grey matter, is simply incorrect.
    White matter is not linked to increased synapses.
    The white matter part is not where that action happens.
    More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain. This does not necessarily relate to the complexity of “computational” connections. The best association with more computation connections is bulk of grey matter, not “amount” of white matter.
    The thing that makes “white matter” distinct anatomically is myelin.
    It is not true that more white matter equals more “axon” which equals more connections. Connections are rare along myelinated axons. There is not a correspondence between “amount of myelinated axon” and “amount of connections
    It is not true that more white matter equals more “axon” which equals more connections. Connections are rare along myelinated axons. There is not a correspondence between “amount of myelinated axon” and “amount of connections”
    There rally isn’t any such thing as “more neurons” alone. There are no unconnected neruons to speak of.
    That is not what white matter is. “Intelligence” or smartness or whatever you want to call it is not about inter-regional connections (where the white matter is).
    So, no, white matter isn’t really that relevant as a measure. If anything it is an indirect measure of something we can measure directly. ”
    I think what is happening here is that you’ve conflated “white matter” with “axons” It is true that the white matter is where you‘ll find more axonal tissue than soma, but white matter itself is not axons, it is myelin. (But white matter also has glial cells.)”
    There is not a correspondence between “amount of myelinated axon” and “amount of connections”
    The best association with more computation connections is bulk of grey matter, not “amount” of white matter.

    If you think I have a fixation with white matter, you are mistaking it for my determination to get the facts straight.

    First, white matter is composed of axons. That is what makes it distinct. The fact that it is white once you preserve it is due to the fact that the axons are sheathed in myelin. Due to the fact that so much myelin is necessary for the axons to function efficiently, white matter is mostly made of myelin. So it is incorrect to say that white matter is myelin, even though myelin makes up most of the white matter.
    Second, white matter does tell you about the connectivity of the brain. You are also mistaken here. It isn’t because synapses occur in white matter. And it isn’t specifically because more regions of the cortex and/or sub cortex are connected to one another. It is because the larger proportion of white to grey matter correlates with more axon in relation to soma, and thus more connections per neuron. It is rather intuitive, but it is also supported by science. It is true that not all axons are myelinated or travel through the white matter. But a larger area of white matter will signify more connectivity.
    Third, You seem to think that because one neuron = one axon, we can dismiss the white matter. This is a naive. Adding more neurons does not equate directly with more white matter, and vice versa. The amount of axon makes a neuron expensive and it varies. A cell with more axon and myelination is faster, can carry more charge farther, and make more complex computations. The amount of white matter does tell you about the computational power of that brain.

    I am not going to waste more time. If you don’t want to take my encouragement and enlighten yourself, that is your choice. You said this was effortless. But effort might be prudent.

    Here is a quote from a pop magazine, “In other words for brain function, size isn’t everything. McGowen said that, in the brain, “folding, number of synapses, ratio of white matter to gray matter,” and other factors appear to be predictable measures of intelligence.”

    As for AAT

    “Anyway, whales and dolphins are not highly encephalized in the same way as large brained land mammals. They have large brains but a low density of neurons. Under water birth appears to account for this. The size related attributes of cetation and hominid brains are unrelated.”
    “Human brains and SOME (but not most) whale brains converge in terms of relative size but for entirely different reasons so it simply isn’t the same trait.”

    You claim that whale/dolphin brains are not comparable to human brains because of a large proportion of white matter (or less grey, less density of nerons).

    But instead of understanding the differences between white and grey matter, you simply say the two brain sizes are ‘for entirely different reasons’ and call them unrelated. That is something that can only be said in ignorance, clearly the brains sizes are related and traits are shared.

    First, whales and dolphin have more white matter than big brained land mammals.
    Second, humans have more white to grey than apes.
    See, if you characterize the brain with a little more depth, you actually can make comparisons. And you wouldn’t be able to say that human brains aren’t like dolphin/whale. We both share a trait in common, we both have more white matter in comparison to apes.

    This was something I learned from cog sci professors, not from ‘AATers’. And I wasn’t trying to say AAT is convincing, I was just clarifying that point.

    Also, you bring up a good point about not having anthro-fMRI. For all the chin scratching AAT might lead to, there seems to be absolutely no hard evidence in support of the theory. But you seem to think that you’ve found all the fossils, or that fossils can have all the answers. It might be the case if you know your stuff, but I don’t. And that’s why I’m following.

  158. #159 Don Johnson
    January 28, 2014

    Greg #157:

    That’s one of those statements that sounds right but is actually fairly meaningless. There rally isn’t any such thing as “more neurons” alone. There are no unconnected neruons to speak of.

    This is one of those arguments that sound like you are saying something smart, but is actually completely meaningless. You seem to be making the assumption that I believe there are neurons with no connections. That is either stupid on your part, or you are calling me stupid.

    In regards to neural nets, adding more neurons without adding more connections does not increase complexity. To clarify for you, adding neurons that make the same number of connections as every other neuron in the network does not add complexity (that is each neuron is still only allowed x connections). Yet increasing the number of connections between those same number of neurons does increases complexity.

    Don’t twist that into nonsense and then think you have made a point.

  159. #160 Don Johnson
    January 29, 2014

    Since you believe:

    The thing that makes “white matter” distinct anatomically is myelin.
    I think what is happening here is that you’ve conflated “white matter” with “axons” It is true that the white matter is where you‘ll find more axonal tissue than soma, but white matter itself is not axons, it is myelin. (But white matter also has glial cells.)”
    There is not a correspondence between “amount of myelinated axon” and “amount of connections”
    The best association with more computation connections is bulk of grey matter, not “amount” of white matter.
    grey matter, that is the hallmark of hominid brain expansion as it relates to all that smart humany stuff we do
    It is not true that more white matter equals more “axon” which equals more connections. Connections are rare along myelinated axons. There is not a correspondence between “amount of myelinated axon” and “amount of connections
    That is not what white matter is. “Intelligence” or smartness or whatever you want to call it is not about inter-regional connections (where the white matter is).
    So, no, white matter isn’t really that relevant as a measure. If anything it is an indirect measure of something we can measure directly.
    Your statement that white matter is associated with higher intelligence, vs. grey matter, is simply incorrect.
    White matter is not linked to increased synapses.
    The white matter part is not where that action happens.
    More “white matter” (which is myelinated axons) has to do with the way the brain is organized and the overall number of connections between regions of the brain. This does not necessarily relate to the complexity of “computational” connections. The best association with more computation connections is bulk of grey matter, not “amount” of white matter.
    The bottom line is this: Thinking, intelligence, etc. etc. is a function of the cerebral tissues, which are grey matter, and the amount of cerebral tissue all else being equal corresponds within mammals to what we might think of as “intelligence”

    You may want to take a lecture like this [http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~dana/Brain_Lec4.pdf] and have a look at the definition of white matter: tissue found in the brain. It contains nerve fibers. Many of these nerve fibers (axons) are surrounded by a type of fat called myelin. The myelin gives the white matter it’s color.

    And then reconsider what white matter tells you about the connectivity of the brain, and g:

    Cognitive functions correlate with white matter architecture in a normal pediatric population: A diffusion tensor MRI study http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hbm.20149/abstract

    A possible relationship between cognitive abilities and white matter structure as assessed by magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was investigated in the pediatric population. DTI was performed on 47 normal children ages 5–18. Using a voxelwise analysis technique, the fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were tested for significant correlations with Wechsler full-scale IQ scores, with subject age and gender used as covariates. Regions displaying significant positive correlations of IQ scores with FA were found bilaterally in white matter association areas, including frontal and occipito-parietal areas. No regions were found exhibiting correlations of IQ with MD except for one frontal area significantly overlapping a region containing a significant correlation with FA. The positive direction of the correlation with FA is the same as that found previously with age, and indicates a positive relationship between fiber organization and/or density with cognitive function. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that regionally specific increased fiber organization is a mechanism responsible for the normal development of white matter tracts. Hum Brain Mapp, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

    Training induces changes in white-matter architecture http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v12/n11/full/nn.2412.html

    Using diffusion imaging, we detected a localized increase in fractional anisotropy, a measure of microstructure, in white matter underlying the intraparietal sulcus following training of a complex visuo-motor skill. This provides, to the best of our knowledge, the first evidence for training-related changes in white-matter structure in the healthy human adult brain.

    White Matter Asymmetry in the Human Brain: A Diffusion Tensor MRI Study http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/9/945

    investigated two independent groups of subjects with diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) for asymmetries in white matter composition. Using voxel-based statistical analyses an asymmetry of the arcuate fascicle was observed, with higher fractional anisotropy in the left hemisphere. In addition, we show differences related to handedness in the white matter underneath the precentral gyrus contralateral to the dominant hand. Remarkably, these findings were very robust, even when investigating small groups of subjects.

    Longitudinal changes in grey and white matter during adolescence http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811909008647

    The whole-brain analyses identified age-related increases in WM volume and FA bilaterally in many fiber tracts, including AF and many parts of the CST. FA changes were mainly driven by increases in parallel diffusivity, probably reflecting increases in the diameter of the axons forming the fiber tracts. FA values of both left and right AF (but not of the CST) were significantly higher at the end of the follow-up than at baseline. Over the same period, widespread reductions in the cortical GM volume were found. These findings provide imaging-based anatomical data suggesting that brain maturation in adolescence is associated with structural changes enhancing long-distance connectivities in different WM tracts, specifically in the AF and CST, at the same time that cortical GM exhibits synaptic “pruning”.

    White matter synapses http://www.neurology.org/content/76/4/397.short

    it is now known that synaptic-style release of glutamate, the brain’s major excitatory neurotransmitter, occurs deep in white matter. Here it permits communication between axons and glial cells, enabling axon activity to couple with high fidelity to glial physiology. As white matter is increasingly well-recognized as a substrate for disease, dysregulation of white matter synaptic transmission will play an important role in the development of pathologies as diverse as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, and schizophrenia.

    I’m afraid to reference the following work because you might lose the nuance in the work above, but the geometric limits on WM and GM are very insightful. Like I said, when you start to characterize the brain with more detail, you can actually make a lot of interesting comparisons between and brain, even between species. Just don’t let the insights given by differences in white matter as explained above be lost in these constraints, they are geometric and leave a lot of room for variation in form and function. This is characterized by the way they analyzed their data.

    A universal scaling law between gray matter and white matter of cerebral cortex http://www.pnas.org/content/97/10/5621.full#ref-35

    Larger brains require longer fibers to communicate between distant cortical areas; the volume of the white matter that contains long axons increases disproportionally faster than the volume of the gray matter that contains cell bodies, dendrites, and axons for local information processing, according to a power law. The theoretical analysis presented here shows how this remarkable anatomical regularity might arise naturally as a consequence of the local uniformity of the cortex and the requirement for compact arrangement of long axonal fibers. The predicted power law with an exponent of 4/3 minus a small correction for the thickness of the cortex accurately accounts for empirical data spanning several orders of magnitude in brain sizes for various mammalian species, including human and nonhuman primates.

    It makes the point I have been trying to show you with this nice little graph [http://www.pnas.org/content/97/10/5621/F2.large.jpg] putting us closer to dolphin, whale and elephants. Don’t you think that’s interesting?

    You should also reconsider saying:
    “All brain sizes must be considered in the larger context of brain to body size/mass relationships and phylogeny.”
    “The size related attributes of cetation and hominid brains are unrelated.”
    “Human brains and SOME (but not most) whale brains converge in terms of relative size but for entirely different reasons so it simply isn’t the same trait.”
    Because like many of the other claims you’ve made, this is completely unsupported by brain science. It is something anthropologists seem to have made up and are now still satisfied with because the actual science is too complicated.

    “This really is the point where if you were my student in a neuroanatomy class we’d spend an hour at the blackboard going over it.”
    Learn to associate the feelings that make you want to say things like this with your lack of facts.

  160. #161 Don Johnson
    January 29, 2014

    “It makes the point I have been trying to show you with this nice little graph [http://www.pnas.org/content/97/10/5621/F2.large.jpg] putting us closer to dolphin, whale and elephants. Don’t you think that’s interesting?”

    *I made a mistake with this image. We are only grouped according to size. So it might not be so interesting, except for the fact that humans do have more WM in some areas like the frontal lobes. And this is, albeit tentative, evidence showing that dolphin and human brains share a strategy for achieving complexity unlike other apes who do not have areas of increased WM. And there is growing evidence to both support this and understand why. Looking at these issues has really helped compare brains, and develop a real brain science, but the comparisons between species is still being debated, so here is more about dolphin brains http://www.dolphincommunicationproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1117&Itemid=285

  161. #162 Greg Laden
    January 29, 2014

    Don, I’ve stopped responding to your comments because I’ve made all the points I need to make, and your misunderstanding of the entire situation only continues to deepen. You have, in fact, a rather complex misunderstanding of the scientific questions at hand, a complexity that grows with each of your missives. You are now burning up a huge amount of internet space to demonstrate that you have an idea, that humans were aquatic or semi aquatic, and you’ve found a way to fit a mish-mash of largely misunderstood observations and bits of literature to produce your own private Gish Gallop. There is really nothing further that I can do about most of that that.

    But I do have one question for you related to something that I don’t think we’ve covered.

    The science seems to indicate that the enlargement of brains in toothed whales (and some other mammals) has to do with the young being born under water. This is based on research done by Joe Marcus. Do you think that at some phase in human ancestry, humans were habitually born under water? You seem to be making that argument by saying that dolphin and human brains are the same in certain features because of a shared aquatic adaptation, but it is the part about being born under water that gives dolphins this characteristic, probably. Therefore you seem to be saying that at some stage human ancestors gave birth to their young under water.

    Second question: Most of what you are saying seems to be related to the idea of intelligence, with humans and dolphins both being highly intelligent and both having relatively large brains. What does this have to do with aquatic adaptations? They may well be completely different issues. Is there a part of the AAT that I’ve missed that requires high levels of intelligence to have an aquatic adaptation, or is it just that if one’s diet includes a lot of aquatic food, one COULD develop high intelligence? If so, is there a teleological argument here about intelligence? Can you justify a teleological argument? Generally, that sort of argument has been rejected in evolutionary biology.

  162. #163 Don Johnson
    January 29, 2014

    I promise, that is the last long. I’ll keep it short if you have any more questions.

  163. #164 Greg Laden
    January 29, 2014

    Don, for your own good, I’m putting you on hold, contemplating cutting you off. For many reasons.

  164. #165 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    January 29, 2014

    It’s his blog, his house …

  165. #166 Greg Laden
    January 29, 2014

    Did you think you were going to convince me to allow you to continue with your manic, insulting, mis informative, combative, full-of-bullshit posts by coming at me with sock puppets?

    Don, seriously, seek help. Talk to some friends. Don’t be a troll.

  166. #167 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 30, 2014

    I’m still waiting for the “so what” with regard to brains and aquaticism. Even if we accept what Don says as being 100% true (which I don’t; but let’s just go ahead and accept it for the sake of argument), it still wouldn’t serve as evidence for any version of the AAT.

    For starters, any argument that puts forth any supposed aquatic trait as evidence for the AAT is circular. The traits are the thing the hypothesis is trying to explain. The thing you’re trying to explain can’t be evidence for the thing you’re trying to explain.

    Observation: Humans have traits X, Y, and Z.
    Hypothesis: Humans have trait X, Y, and Z due to selection for aquaticism.
    Evidence: Humans have trait X, Y, and Z.

    Please tell me you can see that this is circular.

    This extremely simple concept is something no AATer shows the tiniest glimmer of understanding. Since the supposedly aquatic traits are the thing you’re trying to explain with the hypothesis, they cannot also be the evidence for the hypothesis.

    The favorite passtime of AATers is to create lists and lists of human traits that look aquatic to them. But this will never cut it. These lists do not constitute any kind of evidence for the story and never will. The evidence must take some other form.

    Most AATers can’t even imagine what form real evidence might take, which demonstrates how badly the AAT has damaged their ability to think.

  167. #168 holy cow
    January 30, 2014

    OHSU, you just said Don might be right, but so what.

    Doesn’t the evidence tell you that there won’t be a so what moment for Don?

    Why are you explaining what bad logic looks like. You’re demonstration was sufficient.

  168. #169 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 30, 2014

    Quote #168 holy cow

    “OHSU, you just said Don might be right, but so what.”

    1) No. What I said was that I don’t believe he’s right, but I’m willing to accept for the sake of argument that he’s right.

    Do you understand the difference between saying that someone might be right and accepting that they’re right for the sake of argument? Take a minute and think about it. They’re two different things.

    2) I then went on to point out how even if he’s right, what he has said can never function as evidence.

    You probably missed this, but I asked Don “so what” a couple days ago, and he never gave decent response. Still, he continued to argue his point. Why argue your point if you can’t ever come around to the ‘so what”?

    “Doesn’t the evidence tell you that there won’t be a so what moment for Don?”

    Is English your native language? I ask, because this sentence is word salad.

    “Why are you explaining what bad logic looks like. You’re demonstration was sufficient.”

    Do you understand the concept of irrelevance? A point that is irrelevant may be true and still be useless.

    That is the case with whatever it is that Don is currently arguing. It is irrelevant with regard to providing evidence for the AAT.

    Yes, there are things that are true and are still irrelevant. It is entirely possible to argue a point that is at the same time factually correct and still pointless.

  169. #170 holy cow
    January 30, 2014

    OHSU, Do you know the difference netween logic and insult?

    it doesnt seem like you do. Asking if I understand English is closer to an insult than logic.

    This might explain why instead of responding to what Don actually says, you are using insults. Don stated what his point was. Greg made what seems like a mistake in his comparison of brains. Don clarified. Said it wasnt evidence for AAT. But don’t get that point about brains confused.

    You and Greg have just galloped past this, hollering Gish Gish Gish! And you also have failed to understand that Don was cut off for Greg’s own good. Don seems to have had his last long post omitted. Your failure to see this is another example of bad logic. I won’t bother to even bring up ethics.

  170. #171 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2014

    Don, AKA Holy Cow:

    If you don’t want to be discovered as a sock puppet. (Don and Holy Cow are the same person) you should avoid using the same IP address with your multiple personalities.

  171. #172 holy cow
    January 30, 2014

    Greg, I wouldn’t need to respond using my girlfirends handle and cell if you hadnt started to delete my comments. They were not inflammatory. They only pointed to evidence. I like brains and I think the recent finsings are neat and informative.

  172. #173 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2014

    Yor comments were inaccurate and riddled with insults. It was not a productive conversation.

    I’m glad that now that you’ve discovered brains and are starting to learn something about them that you find it interesting but you may be getting ahead of yourself. It is a fascinating topic. I have been teaching about brains and neuroanatomy in college and as a guest in advanced high school programs for years, ever since I taught the foundation course for Harvard’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior program, and it is always great to see people realize how interesting this stuff is.

  173. #174 holy cow
    January 30, 2014

    How can you continue to insinuate that I am only now discovering brains. That is very clearly an attempt to insult me.

    I sincerely apologize if i have become short and insulted you, but this was never my intention. It is very frustrating to have the ecidence continue to be ignored.

  174. #175 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2014

    I do think that, because when this conversation started you didn’t know much about the topic, then you told me you had taken a course a while back that covered some of this stuff, then you started looking stuff up on line (obviously) and posting about it with an air of expertise not supported by what you were saying, and pretty much every time insinuated that I didn’t know what I was talking about, which I took, I think accurately, as a clue that you were deflecting.

    That was not an insinuation. It was encouragement. Lost, though, apparently.

    Also, I’ve not ignored the evidence but rather addressed it again and again. You aren’t really listening. Also about this frustration thing? That might be you projecting! Think about it.

  175. #176 holy cow
    January 30, 2014

    OHSU,
    ” it still wouldn’t serve as evidence for any version of the AAT”
    sounds like so what.

    And right after that, you said you were waiting for my ‘so what’ moment about brains and aquaticism. Looking at what I’m saying, and the evidence I’m providing, it doesn’t look like I’ll be needing to say ‘so what’ anytime soon. The last time you asked me to explain why this matters, I told you. And I have, in every post, clarified what I am giving evidence for. I am clarifying the comparison Greg made about brains. I think it’s really insightful, and I hope he finds it interesting. I have said this several times.

    Never have I said that this evidence supports AAT. Do you understand that arguing with me about things I didn’t say is bad logic, too?

    To help you understand why I would bother. I find this interesting. And, I would say that the evidence you think absolutely rules out AAT is instead evidence that supports the mainstream theory of human evolution, which I have always thought made a lot of sense.

    But to use that evidence to tell yourself AAT is wrong might be another example of bad logic. Do you think all the fossils out there have been found? And probably more importantly, what basis do you have to believe that evidence lucky enough to be buried and preserved for millions of years will tell you everything? Like I said, I don’t know. This might be the case if you are really well informed. But because it is science, we have to be careful about we claim. I think Greg does a good job of telling us what the fossils do tell us. And it is why I have been following. I’ve said this all before!

  176. #177 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 30, 2014

    Don, with regard to your post #170, if you feel that my comments about the intelligibility of your writing are insulting, may I recommend that you put more effort into expressing yourself clearly.

    With regard to your post #176, it’s hard to know where to start. Your writing and the thinking behind it is a jumbled mess. I’m sorry, man, but you don’t make any sense at all.

  177. #178 OHSU
    Arizona
    January 30, 2014

    Quote #176 Don

    Let’s look at this one part at a time:
    “And right after that, you said you were waiting for my ‘so what’ moment about brains and aquaticism. Looking at what I’m saying, and the evidence I’m providing, it doesn’t look like I’ll be needing to say ‘so what’ anytime soon.”

    I have no idea what this means.

    “Never have I said that this evidence supports AAT. Do you understand that arguing with me about things I didn’t say is bad logic, too?”

    Who is arguing with you about things you didn’t say? I’m certainly not.

    “And, I would say that the evidence you think absolutely rules out AAT…”

    Where did I ever say that anything absolutely ruled out the AAT.

    I have never said anything remotely like that.

    “But to use that evidence to tell yourself AAT is wrong might be another example of bad logic.”

    I have never told myself or anyone else that the evidence I’ve discussed here proves the AAT wrong.

    “Do you think all the fossils out there have been found?”

    Of course not. It would be absurd to think that.

    “And probably more importantly, what basis do you have to believe that evidence lucky enough to be buried and preserved for millions of years will tell you everything?”

    Where have I ever said anything like that?

    “But because it is science, we have to be careful about we claim.”

    What do you think I have claimed? So far, it seems you don’t have any clue at all.

    “I think Greg does a good job of telling us what the fossils do tell us.”

    Have I said anything particularly different from what Greg has said?

    “I’ve said this all before!”

    This post of yours is a jumbled up disaster. I wouldn’t brag about having said all this before if I were you.

  178. #179 holy cow
    January 31, 2014

    OHSU,
    When I read your post earlier, I took it to mean that you expected me to reach the so what and explain how it supports AAT. Or say so what if it doesn’t. Sorry I may have misread that.

    You wrote a long post on logic, the bad logic ‘AATers’ are guilty of. And you have been doing this since post #67. In reference to my posts you recently said #167: “With regard to “evidence” proposed by AATers that supposedly “points” to aquaticism, this “evidence” is nothing more than circular thinking.”

    Where did I present evidence that ‘points’ to aquaticism? I know, here we are, an AAT thread, and you are arguing with me, so I must be!

    I have explained, more than once, that I’m talking about comparing brains. It is not only relevant to this debate, but the field in general. It is not evidence supporting a theory that will upend everything Greg’s ever learned about human evolution. I’ll say it again, I’ve said this all before. Yet you keep asking me so what. And now I have to ask you, who are you arguing with?

    You first generalize the discussion I am having by saying that “The favorite passtime of AATers is to create lists and lists of human traits that look aquatic to them,” then make an argument against circular logic. But straw manning isn’t a way to join the conversation. And the prejudice you are showing is hard to reconcile with a person that would say “I have never told myself or anyone else that the evidence I’ve discussed here proves the AAT wrong.”

  179. #180 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 4, 2014

    Quote #179 Don

    “You first generalize the discussion I am having by saying…”

    That comment was not directed at you or your comments discussion you were having. It was in reference to Chris’s comments.

    “Then make an argument against circular logic.”

    Yes. When confronted with the circularity of hi arguments, Chris has in the past simply said things to the effect that he doesn’t care that his arguments are circular. At one point, Chris actually said, “The traits themselves are the evidence,” which is manifestly circular.

    “But straw manning isn’t a way to join the conversation.”

    It seems that in addition to learning to write more clearly, you also need to learn to read more carefully.

    If you feel that my comments were a “straw man” of some your arguments, it may be because my comments about logical circularity were directed toward Chris’s comments, not yours.

    “And the prejudice you are showing…”

    I do not hold prejudice against the AAT or AATers. The word “prejudice” is defined as “an adverse judgment or opinion formed BEFOREHAND or WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE or examination of the facts.”

    I disagree with the AAT, but I did not form this opinion beforehand or without knowledge of the facts. I formed this opinion after nearly 10 yars of debating AATers, and after very extensive reading on the subject of anthropology.

    “is hard to reconcile with a person that would say “I have never told myself or anyone else that the evidence I’ve discussed here proves the AAT wrong.”

    You apparently don’t understand basic philosophy of science, and you obviously haven’t read what I’ve said very carefully.

    I have said that I disagree with and oppose the AAT. I have said that the AAT has no evidence in its favor. I have also said that all of the evidence we do have supports mainstream anthropology.

    This is NOT the same thing as saying that any of the evidence proves the AAT wrong.

    If you don’t understand the difference between these two positions, you need to do some reading on basic philosophy of science before trying to return to this discussion.

    that “The favorite passtime of AATers is to create lists and lists of human traits that look aquatic to them,” then make an argument against circular logic. But straw manning isn’t a way to join the conversation. And the prejudice you are showing is hard to reconcile with a person that would say “I have never told myself or anyone else that the evidence I’ve discussed here proves the AAT wrong.”

  180. #181 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 4, 2014

    I wish we could read over our posts and edit them a little bit. That last post of mine is pretty sloppy.

  181. #182 holy cow
    February 5, 2014

    Ok, so your post #167 had nothing to do with me? I was mistaken. You can see why I was confused since your response @ #169 made it seem like your anticipation for the ‘so what’ was relevant to my posts.

    If you weren’t waiting for me to say so what, then what is all this back and forth between us? Also, calling people dumb doesn’t make you seem more intelligent.

  182. #183 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 5, 2014

    “Ok, so your post #167 had nothing to do with me?”

    We’re talking about two different things here.

    My posts about logical fallacies had nothing to do with you. My posts about “so what” did have to do with you.

    “If you weren’t waiting for me to say so what, then what is all this back and forth between us?”

    I have been waiting for you to explain the so what of your bullshit about brains.

    The observation that humans have some characteristic in common with dolphins (if it is actually true), requires a so what in order to be relevant to a discussion about the AAT. You still haven’t said how it is relevant. You say that your first response was sufficient, but it wasn’t, and you still haven’t given a sufficient one.

    How does anything you’ve said have anything to do with the AAT?

    “Also, calling people dumb doesn’t make you seem more intelligent.”

    Convenient for me, then, that I have never believed that it does

  183. #184 holy cow
    February 6, 2014

    OHSU, I’m not going to continue to respond to your confused and derogatory posts.

    I’ve already answered all this more than once. For a start, refer to #179.

    It’s really hard to understand how you arrived at your reading of your own post #167, with part of it relevant to me and the other part not.

    By the way, it’s not bullshit. If you don’t believe it makes you look smarter to talk this way to people, then why do you do it?

  184. #185 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 6, 2014

    “OHSU, I’m not going to continue to respond to your confused and derogatory posts.”

    That you find my posts confusing is not a sign that they are confused. It is a sign that you are not good at reading for comprehension.

    “I’ve already answered all this more than once.”

    Poorly. You’ve answered poorly.

    “It’s really hard to understand how you arrived at your reading of your own post #167,”

    Just because it’s hard for YOU to understand doesn’t mean it’s hard for everyone to understand. You seem to have below-average reading comprehension.

    Would you like me to break it down for you? I tire of the tedium of explaining things as if to a child, but I’ll do it one more time if you promise to try harder to understand.

    “If you don’t believe it makes you look smarter to talk this way to people, then why do you do it?”

    Are you seriously only capable of imagining one reason for speaking a particular way? Either it’s to make yourself look smarter or… nothing else you can think of?

    Interesting. Something you may wish to consider is that people other than yourself may have a variety of reasons for expressing themselves in particular ways, and making themselves look smarter may not even figure on the list.

  185. #186 holy cow
    February 6, 2014

    In your post #167 , you refer to my discussion, say you are waiting for the ‘so what’ and then explain circular logic. Then you say “Please tell me you can see that this is circular.” Now you are saying that the ‘so what’ was about me, but the explanation of logical fallacies was not. This is confusing. Telling me I have bad reading comprehension doesn’t help explain.

    Saying my response regarding the relevance to AAT was poor doesn’t explain anything either. Read post #179, then get back to me with any questions.

    Like I asked before, if being derogatory isn’t an attempt to look smart, why do you do it? I am not capable of imagining another reason, so I asked you to explain. But you didn’t. You are arguing a whole lot but not making a much sense.

  186. #187 Sylvester B
    Houston,TX
    February 6, 2014

    Now, if we all looked like whales, I might buy the AAT.

  187. #189 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 7, 2014

    Don, I thought you said you weren’t going to reply to me anymore.

  188. #190 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 8, 2014

    #187 quote: Now, if we all looked like whales, I might buy the AAT.

    Again, AAT/AAH is not arguing an aquatic level of whales, but something on par with semiaquatics like hippos and sea otters. Or, perhaps more to the point the past semiaquaticism of e.g. elephants.
    AAH has its source in observing the physiology and ethology of extant humans, seeing convergences in aquatic, semiaquatic and past semiaquatic mammals. Based on that, we’re not seafaring apes by any account, ’cause if we swim into the open seas, we die. But so would a hippo or an elephant, but they’re still aquatic. Again, forget Aquaman, it’s Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan splashing beneath the palm trees. We’re suggested as being an old beach ape. How is that in any way unreasonable?

  189. #191 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 10, 2014

    Cool Chris. Now all you need is some evidence.

  190. #192 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 10, 2014

    See, this is why the AAH-naysayers are like talking to creationists.

  191. #193 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 11, 2014

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Of course, Chris. Of course.

    You realize that “AAT naysayers” include all of mainstream anthropology. The whole field. So, you’re saying that the entire field of mainstream anthro is just like creationists.

    You’re full of shit, Chris. The AAT has robbed you of your ability to think.

  192. #194 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 11, 2014

    An example of how the AAT has robbed Chris of his ability to think:

    Chris believes that because the AAT doesn’t seem unreasonable to him that it should be afforded respect by mainstream science. But anyone who knows the first thing about science knows that ideas don’t become science just because they don’t seem unreasonable.

    There are plenty of not-unreasonable ideas that turn out to be wrong. Interestingly, there are plenty of far-out ideas that become mainstream science, because even though they’re strange-sounding, they’re supported by evidence.

    I have always agreed that the AAT sounds reasonable enough. The problem isn’t that it is an outrageous idea. The problem is that there it has no supporting evidence. Moreover, the evidence we do have (like fossils and artifacts) all support mainstream anthro.

    From the very moment I first bumped into Chris on the internet, he has insisted that the supposedly aquatic traits themselves are all the evidence AATers need. But the traits themselves can’t be the evidence. That would be circular reasoning.
    .
    Observation: Humans have traits X, Y, and Z.
    Hypothesis: Humans have traits X, Y, and Z as a result of selection for aquaticism.
    Evidence: Humans have traits X, Y, and Z.

    That is so obviously circular. AATers must come up with something other than lists of traits that they think look aquatic, or they will never make any progress in mainstream science.

    What is your evidence that any of these traits are aquatic, Chris?

  193. #195 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 11, 2014

    #193 quote: You realize that “AAT naysayers” include all of mainstream anthropology. The whole field. So, you’re saying that the entire field of mainstream anthro is just like creationists.

    Yeah, ain’t that the truth. When you’ve faced more than one anthropologist, that actually thought that AAH was arguing for the existence of MERMAIDS, you begin to wonder, if we have evolved any since Copernicus. Alister Hardy’s four pages from 1960 is talking about a damn coastal ape, but why read the sources? Highly educated people, our last line of defence against our own hysteria, and they refuse to get at least that straight. They’re too busy sneering at the fool on the hill. So no, on this issue, I find it hard to see a difference between how creationists treat the theory of evolution, and how “anthro” is treating the aquatic ape hypothesis. Who cares, what the argumentation is?

    #193 quote: What is your evidence that any of these traits are aquatic, Chris?

    Convergence. It’s at the very core of AAH. Alister Hardy’s first observation was the lack of human fur compared to the other great apes. And then when coupling that to our layer of insulating skinfat that we have instead of fur, how is it circular to conclude, that this combination is a convergent adaptation towards a layer of primitive blubber?
    And when you down the line reach the biochemical observation, that the human brain needs nutrition, that by far is most readily available from frickin’ seafood, how is it circular to conclude, that our brain grew in size likely as a response to increased consumption of exactly that food source?
    And that’s just two of the core arguments of AAH. And no, these observations don’t stem from the fossil archive, but that’s because YOU CAN’T SEEK ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS FROM THE FOSSIL ARCHIVE.

  194. #196 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 11, 2014

    Chris, Alistair hardy was arguing that humans were approximately as aquatic as seals. That’s not a “damn coastal ape”, that’s a damn primate seal. You either have no idea what Hardy proposed, or you’re not being honest about it.

    ” Who cares, what the argumentation is?”

    People who are interested in real science care.

    “Convergence.”

    You have never demonstrated that you have any clue what ‘convergence’ means. Convergence is not simply when two animals have vaguely similar-looking features. It is when they 1) evolve similar features 2) under similar selection pressures 3) and those features serve a similar function.

    AATers have three hurdles they have to clear here, and they seem completely oblivious regarding how to clear them. You certainly don’t understand.

    Take any example you want. Since you mention fat, let’s use that one.

    1) Our subcutaneous fat is not convergent with that of aquatic animals. We do not have “blubber” or anything like it.
    2) You have not accurately described the function of fat in semi-aquatic and aquatic mammals, and you have not demonstrated that human fat serves the same function. (You have thrown out the word “insulating”, but you have no evidence that fat serves that function in aquatic mammals or humans.) Moreover, it is well known that captive primates who overeat as much as humans do develop the same subcutaneous fat in the same places as humans do.
    3) You have no evidence that humans experienced the same selection pressures as aquatic mammals. And the fact that we have subcutaneous fat is not itself evidence, since that is the thing you’re trying to explain.

    Your argument for “convergence” is bullshit, Chris. You like the word “convergence” because it’s a sciency-sounding word, but you really don’t know what it means.

    “And then when coupling that to our layer of insulating skinfat that we have instead of fur, how is it circular to conclude, that this combination is a convergent adaptation towards a layer of primitive blubber?”

    1) You have demonstrated no convergence.
    2) You have inaccurately described the trait.
    3) I have already explained why appeals to the traits themselves is logically circular.

    “And when you down the line reach the biochemical observation, that the human brain needs nutrition, that by far is most readily available from frickin’ seafood, how is it circular to conclude, that our brain grew in size likely as a response to increased consumption of exactly that food source?”

    It doesn’t matter what food source would hypothetically have been the best. What matters is what food source they actually used. Here is the same analogy I’ve given you ten times already.

    Let’s say I know my daughter ate pizza last night, but I don’t know where she got it. How can we figure out where she got it?

    Method #1) Look at all the pizza places in Arizona and find the place that we feel would have been the best place. Maybe the pizza tastes the best. Maybe it’s the cheapest. Maybe it’s the most nutritious. Whatever. We make an argument that their pizza would have been the best for her to buy, so we conclude that that’s where she bought it.
    Method #2) Look for empirical evidence telling us where she actually bought it. Maybe we look at credit card receipts or pizza boxes.

    You and other AATers are using method #1. You’re saying that since fish would have been a great source of nutrition, that must have been what they ate. You’re ignoring two major points: 1) There is adequate brain-specific nutrition in terrestrial hunter-gatherer diets all over the planet. 2) The fossil evidence places pre-AMH human ancestors hundreds of miles from any sea or ocean.

    “And that’s just two of the core arguments of AAH.”

    They’re both shit, and you haven’t made the tiniest effort to understand anyone’s criticism of them. You just keep repeating them, unaltered.

    “And no, these observations don’t stem from the fossil archive, but that’s because YOU CAN’T SEEK ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS FROM THE FOSSIL ARCHIVE”

    Yes, you can. If the fossils of human ancestors are found hundreds of miles from any sea or ocean, and paleoenvironment experts tell us that they lived in open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland, then the individuals who left those fossils lived hundreds of miles from any ocean in open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland. So, they couldn’t have experienced the selection pressures of aquatic animals.

    It isn’t the interpretation of the anatomy of the fossils that is the problem for the AAT. It is the LOCATION where the fossils are found. You claim that they lived by the sea shore, swam in the ocean, and partook of the marine food chain. Yet the location where the fossils were found does not support your story.

    You may conjecture that other human ancestors whose fossils we have not yet discovered lived near oceans, but until those fossils are found, you have nothing.

  195. #197 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    February 11, 2014

    #196 quote: Chris, Alistair hardy was arguing that humans were approximately as aquatic as seals. That’s not a “damn coastal ape”, that’s a damn primate seal. You either have no idea what Hardy proposed, or you’re not being honest about it.

    There are two main aquatic sources to AlistEr Hardy (you don’t even get his name right, dude). He mentions the word seal a total of five times, and not once in context of arguing humans as a “seal ape”. So you’re hearing sir Alister say what you want him to say, which creationists are equally prone to do when it comes to Darwin. ‘Cause there’s another agenda lurking in their subconscious. What’s your subconscious agenda here?

    This is what the man actually wrote, over half a century ago:
    “My thesis is that a branch of this primitive ape-stock [hominoids] was forced by competition from life in the trees to feed on the sea-shores and to hunt for food, shell fish, sea-urchins, etc., in the shallow waters off the coast.”

    http://s230720565.websitehome.co.uk/elainemorgan/Hardy%20Article.pdf
    http://www.waterside-hypotheses.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=39

    #196 quote: ” Who cares, what the argumentation is?”
    People who are interested in real science care.

    Yeah, exactly. So what are anthropologists, who don’t even bother reading the sources on this issue? (There’s too much prestige in this line of work, it corrupts everything, it’s like politics.)

  196. #198 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 12, 2014

    #196 quote: Your argument for “convergence” is bullshit, Chris. You like the word “convergence” because it’s a sciency-sounding word, but you really don’t know what it means.

    I know enough to know, that Darwin made much of this case on comparing similar traits in species, e.g. beaks on finches. But what are you arguing, that the unique human traits can’t possibly be subject to convergence? That we have markedly less fur than our biological ape cousins AND a layer of insulating fat can’t be argued as comparable to the insulating fat layers of some aquatics? If that’s what you’re saying, it isn’t a far step to argue Deus Ex Machina for this particular ape, and then we might as well hand over evolution to the creationists. Which they’d be more than willing to grab. AAH would actually be closing the last major gaps left by Darwin and shove a big middle finger at the creationists. I have encountered a couple of religiously enclined people that don’t like AAH either, exactly because of this.

    And I’m so sorry for sounding “sciency,” aparently you’d be much more comfortable if I didn’t.

  197. #199 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 12, 2014

    Who cares if I spelled his name right? He was a coo-coo who believed that psychic abilities played a role in evolution. And here is what Hardy said about how aquatic he believed people to be:

    “Then, in time, I see him becoming more and more of an aquatic animal going farther out from the shore; I see him diving for shell fish, prising out worms, burrowing crabs and bivalves from the sands at the bottom of shallow seas, and breaking open sea-urchins, and then, with increasing skill, capturing fish with his hands.”

    And…

    “So after some twenty million years or more of living a semi-aquatic life — I must make it clear that I do not suppose man spent more than perhaps FIVE OR SIX HOURS IN THE WATER AT A TIME.”

    And…

    “possibly Homo aquaticus was only able to survive and evolve with the help of a number of small sandy or rocky islands stretching up the tropical coasts or margins of lakes where he could live in large colonies, LIKE THOSE OF SEALS OR PENGUINS.”

    So, Hardy DID envision human ancestors being approximately as aquatic as seals and penguins, spending five or six hours at a time swimming in open water, swimming fast enough to catch fish with bare hands, and living in large coastal colonies.

    “So what are anthropologists, who don’t even bother reading the sources on this issue?”

    Religions are based on source documents. Science is based on tangible empirical real-world evidence.

    Anthropologists can literally ignore every single word Hardy ever wrote in his original source documents, and if the evidence supported Hardy they would come to all the same conclusions Hardy did. On the other hand, they could worship Hardy as the God of Anthropology, but if the evidence didn’t support Hardy’s ideas then too bad.

    The key is the evidence itself, not words written on a piece of paper decades ago. And the evidence does not support any version of the AAT.

  198. #200 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    February 12, 2014

    #199 quote: “So after some twenty million years or more of living a semi-aquatic life — I must make it clear that I do not suppose man spent more than perhaps FIVE OR SIX HOURS IN THE WATER AT A TIME.”

    Five or six hours, that’s what fisher peoples spend in tropical water a day. Something like this fella:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgRpwESWPLM
    I know spearfishers in Scandinavia and the Mediterrenean that’re out that long on an average day.

    #199 quote: “possibly Homo aquaticus was only able to survive and evolve with the help of a number of small sandy or rocky islands stretching up the tropical coasts or margins of lakes where he could live in large colonies, LIKE THOSE OF SEALS OR PENGUINS.”

    You know what, it kinda starts to sound like Hardy predicted Homo floresiensis.

    I can really see, how Hardy argued human beings as aquatic as seals, based on your listed quotes. You see what you want to see, ape. You’re no better than Jim Moore.

  199. #201 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 12, 2014

    “Five or six hours, that’s what fisher peoples spend in tropical water a day. Something like this fella:”

    He’s not spending 5-6 hours a day swimming unaided in the open ocean. When he surfaces he either gets on his boat or goes back to land.

    There are fantastic and well-trained athletes who can do all kinds of things, but the vast majority people would drown if they had to swim for more than a few minutes in open ocean, much les 5-6 hours at a time, without a boat at the surface waiting for them.

    “You see what you want to see.”

    All I have done is read Hardy’s actual words. He definitely believed that human ancestors swam in the open ocean for 5-6 hours a day, swam fast enough to catch fish with their bare hands, and lived in large coastal colonies like seals and penguins. Those are Hardy’s actual word.

    And Morgan definitely believed that human ancestors basically primate otters: “I think that probably [aquatic apes] were about aquatic to the same degree as an otter. So, they would spend large amounts of time in the water but come ashore to sleep and to breed.” — Elaine Morgan

    Are you going to tell me that Morgan didn’t actually believe what she said, either?

  200. #202 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 12, 2014

    With regard to Hardy’s original idea, 1n 1977 Hardy wrote an article for an Oxford University publication, Zenith. In that article, Hardy said that he envisioned human ancestors HUNTING PORPOISES in open water.

    Consider how fast and agile porpoises are. Now consider just how well human ancestors would have to be able to swim in order to HUNT them.

    Now, tell met that I’m just seeing what I want to see and that Hardy didn’t really imagine human ancestors being like a primate seal.

  201. #203 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    February 12, 2014

    #201 quote: He’s not spending 5-6 hours a day swimming unaided in the open ocean. When he surfaces he either gets on his boat or goes back to land.

    There it is again, the open ocean part. You’re distorting the man’s words, ’cause your subconscious agenda is that he has to be nuts. You even post his words yourself.
    “I must make it clear that I do not suppose man spent more than perhaps FIVE OR SIX HOURS IN THE WATER AT A TIME.”
    open ocean

    I don’t think sea otters are an unreasonable measure. The possibility is still that

    Regardless of all

  202. #204 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 13, 2014

    #201 quote:

    There it is again, the open ocean part. You’re distorting the man’s words to make it sound crazy, ’cause that’s aparently what your subconscious agenda needs it to be. You even post his words yourself.
    “I must make it clear that I do not suppose man spent more than perhaps five or six hours in the water at a time.”
    — WHERE THE HELL IS THE “OPEN OCEAN” PART??? —
    We’re talking about coast kissing waders. That’s the kind of fishing and gathering that’s being argued.
    http://www.channelingerik.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/aquaticapes.jpg

    #202 quote:

    Again, you’re mimicking Jim Moore’s distortions. You’re talking about Hardy’s second and last aquatic source available:
    http://www.waterside-hypotheses.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=39
    He mentions porpoises once. ONCE. And what does he say exactly?
    “I think it likely that man began to use stones for breaking open the shell-fish, etc., as does the Californian sea otter; and stones are so readily available on the shore. Now let us imagine that on a particular shore man was hammering with a stone and he suddenly found the stone split into thin flakes—flakes of flint—one could almost imagine him crying out with excitement: “Boys—a knife!” but of course he could not speak in that distant age, nor would he know what a knife was, but he could at once see the great advantage of these sharp blades of flint. He began not
    just to use any old Stone but to make stone tools like knives and spear heads. He now began to hunt larger marine creatures, spearing large fish, which he could not have caught before, then perhaps even porpoises.”
    Anything crazy in this? Only mentioning of porpoises is in the context of emerging tool use. But that’s not what you took away from it, was it? You didn’t even see the word “perhaps”, did you? ‘Cause you’re looking for comma sentences to sneer at. How in the hell is that a scientific discourse?

    #201 quote:

    I don’t think sea otters are an unreasonable measure. Sea otters have been clocked reaching 100 meters of depth, and at least this Kiwi is capable of the same measure:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypcvJcn4dSg
    But hell, maybe sea otters are too much. Perhaps hippos are too much as well. But we’re certainly as aquatic as elephants, what with their aquatic past. And watching these freedivers, I’d say much more than elephants.

    Let’s say that Hardy and Morgan did envision people having been “more” open water apes in the past than they are today (which I don’t really see them say in the sources). Even if they did, some “dolphin-ape” is certainly not the consensus amongst AAH-peddlers today, as proponed by e.g. Bender et Bender, Kuliukas, Cunnane, Broadhurst and the lot. Verhaegen argues, that Homo erectus was “the most” aquatic hominin, spending significantly more time in water than we do today, even never being bipedal on land, and I’m prone to disagree on quite a lot of his details, but I can’t rule it out, either.

    #201 quote:

    Uhuh. That’s definitely what he was saying.
    And catching fish with one’s bare hands, you know, in the good ol’ South it’s called noodling:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWflyQ143_w
    I’m even gonna up the ante:

  203. #205 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 13, 2014

    #201 quote: “He’s not spending 5-6 hours a day swimming unaided in the open ocean. When he surfaces he either gets on his boat or goes back to land.”

    There it is again, the open ocean part. You’re distorting the man’s words to make it sound crazy, ’cause that’s aparently what your subconscious agenda needs it to be. You even post his words yourself.
    “I must make it clear that I do not suppose man spent more than perhaps five or six hours in the water at a time.”
    — WHERE THE HELL IS THE “OPEN OCEAN” PART??? —
    We’re talking about coast kissing waders. That’s the kind of fishing and gathering that’s being argued.
    http://www.channelingerik.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/aquaticapes.jpg

    #202 quote: “With regard to Hardy’s original idea, In 1977 Hardy wrote an article for an Oxford University publication, Zenith. In that article, Hardy said that he envisioned human ancestors HUNTING PORPOISES in open water.”

    Again, you’re mimicking Jim Moore’s distortions. You’re talking about Hardy’s second and last aquatic source available:
    http://www.waterside-hypotheses.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=39
    He mentions porpoises once. ONCE. And what does he say exactly?
    “I think it likely that man began to use stones for breaking open the shell-fish, etc., as does the Californian sea otter; and stones are so readily available on the shore. Now let us imagine that on a particular shore man was hammering with a stone and he suddenly found the stone split into thin flakes—flakes of flint—one could almost imagine him crying out with excitement: “Boys—a knife!” but of course he could not speak in that distant age, nor would he know what a knife was, but he could at once see the great advantage of these sharp blades of flint. He began not
    just to use any old Stone but to make stone tools like knives and spear heads. He now began to hunt larger marine creatures, spearing large fish, which he could not have caught before, then perhaps even porpoises.”
    Anything crazy in this? Only mentioning of porpoises is in the context of emerging tool use. But that’s not what you took away from it, was it? You didn’t even see the word “perhaps”, did you? ‘Cause you’re looking for comma sentences to sneer at. How in the hell is that a scientific discourse?

    #201 quote: “And Morgan definitely believed that human ancestors basically primate otters: “I think that probably [aquatic apes] were about aquatic to the same degree as an otter. So, they would spend large amounts of time in the water but come ashore to sleep and to breed.” — Elaine Morgan”

    I don’t think sea otters are an unreasonable measure. Sea otters have been clocked reaching 100 meters of depth, and at least this Kiwi is capable of the same measure:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypcvJcn4dSg
    But hell, maybe sea otters are too much. Perhaps hippos are too much as well. But we’re certainly as aquatic as elephants, what with their aquatic past. And watching these freedivers, I’d say much more than elephants.

    Let’s say that Hardy and Morgan did envision people having been “more” open water apes in the past than they are today (which I don’t really see them say in the sources). Even if they did, some “dolphin-ape” is certainly not the consensus amongst AAH-peddlers today, as proponed by e.g. Bender et Bender, Kuliukas, Cunnane, Broadhurst and the lot. Verhaegen argues, that Homo erectus was “the most” aquatic hominin, spending significantly more time in water than we do today, even never being bipedal on land, and I’m prone to disagree on quite a lot of his details, but I can’t rule it out, either.

    #201 quote: “All I have done is read Hardy’s actual words. He definitely believed that human ancestors swam in the open ocean for 5-6 hours a day, swam fast enough to catch fish with their bare hands, and lived in large coastal colonies like seals and penguins. Those are Hardy’s actual word.”

    Uhuh. That’s definitely what he was saying.
    And catching fish with one’s bare hands, you know, in the good ol’ South it’s called noodling:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWflyQ143_w
    I’m even gonna up the ante:

  204. #206 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 13, 2014

    My computer is acting crazy. Greg, please delete redundant posts 203 and 204.

  205. #207 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 13, 2014

    Blah, blah, blah.

    You’re wrong about Hardy and Morgan. You’re like a religious apologist re-interpreting the Bible because as a modern man he doesn’t like what the stone age barbarians had to say.

    You’re embarrassed that Hardy and Morgan had such bizarre ideas, so you’re re-writing what they said and reinterpreting what they meant to suit you.

    You “don’t really see” in Morgan’s quote that she believed in a primate-otter? Even though she says, “I think that they were aquatic to about the same degree as an otter”?

    What is there to misinterpret? It’s as clear as day. The AAT has robbed you of your ability to think, Chris.

    But, as I said before, all of this is pointless. it doesn’t matter what Hardy said. It doesn’t matter what Morgan said. (Except that your denial of what they said speaks volumes about your AAT psychosis.)

    What matters is the evidence, and you have none whatsoever.

    I have been begging you to present some evidence for YEARS now, Chris, and you always come back with the same empty refuted bullshit.

    Where is the evidence, Chris. Quit whining about Hardy and Morgan being mistreated and put up some evidence.

  206. #208 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 13, 2014

    # 207 quote: “You ‘don’t really see’ in Morgan’s quote that she believed in a primate-otter? Even though she says, ‘I think that they were aquatic to about the same degree as an otter’?”

    You didn’t even read my comment just now on Morgan’s otter analogy, did you?

    # 207 quote: “Where is the evidence, Chris. Quit whining about Hardy and Morgan being mistreated and put up some evidence.”

    Excuse me, as I understand empirical evidence, it is “a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation” (Wiki’s definition, anyway). Or are observed convergences with other aquatic life suddenly not empirical evidence? I’m sorry, I was taught the exact opposite in my biology class in the 90’s. If convergences are suddenly null and void, bam, there goes a big chunk of the theory of evolution. Congratulations, you just gave the creationists their biggest triumph yet.

    In terms of experimentation, extant sapiens is capable of reaching upwards of 50 meters depth freediving buck naked, and forage well within the 20 meter range, picking up molluscs, lobster and the like. Cooper the Chimp, as a representative of our nearest cousins the tree of life, was trained to reach a staggering maximum of 1 meter.

  207. #209 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 13, 2014

    “You didn’t even read my comment just now on Morgan’s otter analogy, did you?”

    It wasn’t an analogy. She just flat out stated that aquatic apes were as aquatic as otters.

    “If convergences are suddenly null and void, bam, there goes a big chunk of the theory of evolution.”

    You’re completely ignoring everything I’ve said about convergence, as if I had never said it. I’ve been telling you for YEARS what would be necessary to make an argument from convergence. I told you again yesterday. You’re simply ignoring it.

    You.
    Have.
    Not.
    Demonstrated.
    Convergence.

    “In terms of experimentation, extant sapiens is capable of…”

    This is a circular argument.

    Observation: Humans are capable of diving better than chimps.
    Hypothesis: Humans are capable of diving better than chimps due to selection for aquaticism.
    Evidence: Humans are capable of diving better than chimps.

    The traits themselves cannot be the evidence, Chris. That’s circular. And any experiment that does nothing more than test the trait itself is also circular.

  208. #210 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 13, 2014

    You’re seriously saying, that convergence has not been demonstrated in this debate? That’s precisely what it has, since day one of the aquatic idea.

    Again, using Wiki: “Convergent evolution describes the independent evolution of similar features in species of different lineages. Convergent evolution creates analogous structures that have similar form or function, but were not present in the last common ancestor of those groups.”

    Again, using human fur as an example, since this was Hardy’s first observation. Hardy observed humans missing most of its fur cover, a feature not present in its close relatives chimps, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons. Coupled with that is an insulating layer of fat beneath the skin’s dermis, which function to keep us warm in lieu of fur, also missing from our nearest cousins.

    Hardy knew exactly what that combination was, as an expert within marine biology. He had seen it time and time again in aquatic mammals. That layer of insulating skinfat is blubber. Most likely in a primitive form, but we have blubber. At the least, it is in no way unreasonable or unscientific or “bullshit” to make that convergent observation about humans based on those two unequivocal features; near-furlessness and skinfat. It was the first observation made in this aquatic debate and still the most parsimonous explanation. Claiming that this is not applicable as a convergent observation is claiming that convergent evolution somehow doesn’t apply to humans, and the next step in that line of thinking is saying that we are created in the image of God.

  209. #211 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 13, 2014

    “You’re seriously saying, that convergence has not been demonstrated in this debate?”

    Oh my God. Chris? Chris? Hello, Chris?

    I have been telling you for fucking YEARS that convergence hasn’t been demonstrated in this debate. Have you been ASLEEP? Are you on sedatives? Are high all the time? Do you know how to read?

    You CLAIM convergence. You have not DEMONSTRATED convergence. Merely CLAIMING convergence is not the same thing as DEMONSTRATING convergence.

    At a bare minimum you have to

    1) Accurately describe the features.

    2) Demonstrate that the features in question evolved under similar selection pressures.

    3) Demonstrate that the features in question serve a similar function.

    All any AATer has ever done is point out that there are features that LOOK aquatic to them. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH. You can’t just say, “They’re hairless and we’re hairless. That’s convergent!”

    Hair:

    1) You haven’t accurately described the feature. Our hair pattern is very dissimilar to any aquatic animal.

    2) You have not supported any selection pressure at all, for either humans or hairless aquatic animals.

    3) You have not demonstrated that humans experienced an aquatic selection pressure.

    Fat:

    1) You haven’t accurately described the feature. Our fat content, composition, and distribution is very dissimilar to any aquatic animal.

    Moreover, it is extremely similar to that of captive primates that are allowed to over eat the way people do.

    2) You have not supported any selection pressure for fat in either humans or aquatic animals. Is it for buoyancy? Insulation? Energy storage?

    3) You have not demonstrated that humans experienced an aquatic selection pressure.

    Neither you nor any other AATer has EVER demonstrated convergence. You CLAIM convergence, but you never get any farther than, “Gee, that looks aquatic to me.”

    Nobody cares what it looks like TO YOU if you can’t support it with EVIDENCE.

  210. #212 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 13, 2014

    Ohsu, you’re a troll. You only wish to solicit a response by posting ridiculous ramblings. I will waste no more time being your odd interpretation of entertainment. I think you should seek a therapist.

  211. #213 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 13, 2014

    No, I’m not a troll. Yes, I am doing this for entertainment, because watching you flail around like a retard is funny.

    You claim what I have said is “ridiculous”, yet you can’t identify a single “ridiculous” thing I’ve said.

    You are a scientifically illiterate moron whose religion is the AAT.

    We’ve been debating the AAT on different forums for YEARS, and you still don’t even understand the nature of my objections. “Wait a minute. Are you saying…?” Yes, you slack-jawed, mouth-breating cretin. Yes! Tthat’s what I’ve been saying for YEARS!

    I’d love to debate the AAT with someone who had even a tiny grasp of the nature of science, the exigencies of the scientific method, and the concept of evdience.

  212. #214 holy cow
    February 13, 2014

    After years, you still have the energy to fit in so many insults. Amazing. And your motivation, “entertainment, because watching you flail around like a retard is funny.” that is just brilliant isn’t it. You’re doing a good thing here. Yes you are.

  213. #215 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 14, 2014

    Yes, entertainment. But it hasn’t always been this way.

    I got started in this debate about 10 years ago. Initially I was very sincere, simply asking questions and attempting to engage in serious adult conversation. But I found that no AATer I encountered was capable of rationally thinking about it. Instead I found the most dull-witted religiosity.

    Chris joined the debate a couple years ago, and in spite of the fact that I have explained the same two or three basic concepts to him literally hundreds of times, he doesn’t even REMEMBER from one day to the next what my two or three objections have been.

    Did you notice that he just barely figured out yesterday that I dispute his use of “convergence”. I have been telling him for YEARS that AATers have never actually demonstrated convergence. YEARS. In the clearest, simplest, and most unequivocal terms possible. And he just realized YESTERDAY.

    I’m going to make a prediction here. I’m going to predict that within a week Chris has forgotten. He will have forgotten what my objection was, and he’ll have forgotten that moment of realization he had, making possible a new episode of, “What? You’re seriously saying convergence hasn’t been demonstrated?”

    Debating with Chris is like debating someone who has his fingers stuck in his ears going “LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

    Over the years I have debated 5-6 hardcore AATers, and I have found they all suffer from the same intellectual blind spots; they all embrace the same logical fallacies; and they all use the same dishonest debate tactics.

    Obviously, this isn’t a coincidence. Years of associating with each other on the internet has naturally led to them adopting each others views, approaches, and tactics.

    And, yes, I find the whole thing fascinating. Partly I enjoy discussing science, the scientific method, and anthropology. And partly I find it fascinating to observe the effect of the mind-virus of pseudoscience on people’s ability to engage in rational thought.

    So, here I am. And I will continue to press AATers for evidence.

    WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE for the AAT? Chris says “convergence”. I say, you can’t just claim convergence. You have to demonstrate it. Whether these features are convergent is the thing we’re debating. AATers don’t get to just assume their conclusion.

    So, where is the EVIDENCE that these features are ACTUALLY convergent?

    Chris’s response? “Sputter, sputter. That’s ridiculous! Are you kidding? Sputter,sputter.” No. I’m not kidding. I’ve been asking for evidence for YEARS. WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?

    Chris has no idea what form real evidence would take. Neither does Algis (who is the person I debated for years before Chris). They both believe that an “experiment” that tests one of the features would be a good test of the AAT.

    Let’s look at that.

    Observation: People swim better than apes.
    Hypothesis: People swim better than apes because of selection for aquaticism.
    Question: Do people swim better than apes?
    Experiment: Test whether people swim better than apes.
    Outcome: Yes, people swim better than apes.
    Evidence: People swim better than apes.

    Neither Chris nor Algis can be made to see that this does not answer the question of WHY people swim better than apes, which is the thing we’re debating!

    Are the things that permit people to swim better than apes a coincidental outcome of adaptations for other things (exaptation) or are they the result of adaptation for aquaticism? THAT’S THE DEBATE. And “experiments’ testing WHETHER we swim better than apes DON’T ANSWER THAT QUESTION.

    I have been telling Chris this for YEARS. FUCKING YEARS!! And yesterday he suggested that an “experiment” demonstrating that humans can dive better than chimps is evidence for the AAT.

    A serious question for you, Don. Do YOU see how that “experiment” doesn’t answer the question. Please, please, please for the love of god tell me you do.

    Now, tell me how I’m supposed to respond to someone who after YEARS of patient explanation cannot grasp it.

  214. #216 holy cow
    February 14, 2014

    If that’s your interest maybe you should read about memes instead of having the same irrational vitriolic debate over and over.

  215. #217 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 14, 2014

    I’ve read all about memes, thanks.

  216. #218 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 15, 2014

    I have heard cases of people with a very specific kind of brain damage that prevents them from retaining memories of things in the long term. They can only remember the events of the past few minutes. For example, If someone gets up and leaves the room and then returns, these people behave as if it had been a long since they had seen the person who just left the room.

    Debating with Chris is like debating someone with that type of brain damage. He literally doesn’t remember from one minute to the next what anyone has said, and he just keeps repeating the same two piss-weak points over and over, oblivious to the fact his points have been addressed and refuted. And he shows what appears to be genuine surprise each time he encounters the same refutations he has read repeatedly over the past several years.

    It’s fascinating what religious adherence to pseudoscience does to someone’s ability to think.

  217. #219 holy cow
    February 15, 2014

    You keep repeating this conversation right along with him. What kind of memory disorder do you think you suffer from?

  218. #220 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 15, 2014

    I remember in detail all the discussions we’ve had. I don’t participate in these discussions because I’ve forgotten. I participate in them for a variety of reasons.

    1) I think it’s important to counter pseudoscience. There are people with weak backgrounds in science who read these blogs who might come away thinking the AATers made good points if nobody bothered to counter them.

    2) I have learned a lot about anthropology and science. Sometimes it has been as I read and researched topics on my own. Sometimes it has been as I have read the posting of others.

    3) As I have said, it is endlessly fascinating to observe the psychosis brought on people like Algis and Chris by the mind-virus of pseudoscience.

    4) I find it entertaining.

    I suppose it could be argued that there’s something wrong with someone who finds this sort of thing entertaining. And I’ll admit that when faced with bald-faced stupidity I’m not a very nice person. But of the problems I may have, memory deficit is not one of them.

  219. #221 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 15, 2014

    Don, you haven’t posted a single thing relevant to the issue of the AAT in all your various posts on this topic. All you have done is carp from the sidelines.

    I have an idea. Why don’t you pick a side, formulate an argument, articulate a point of view, and actually join the discussion?

    Is it that you don’t know enough about mainstream anthro? Is it that you don’t know enough about the AAT?

    Then why not ask some questions, look up some sources, and educate yourself? There are tons of relevant questions you could ask.

    “What are the best points in favor of the AAT?” “Are there any recent studies that refute some of the AAT’s main talking points?” “Are there different versions of the AAT? What are their strong points and weak points?”

    Is it that you just don’t care? If you don’t care then why waste your time carping from the sidelines?

    You seem pretty critical of my ongoing debate with Chris, but here you are posting pointless bullshit that is neither here nor there.

  220. #222 holy cow
    February 15, 2014

    Do you still actually expect someone to give you evidence that will overturn mainstream science in favor of AAT on a comments thread?

  221. #223 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 15, 2014

    A few responses to that question:

    1) What difference does the venue make? I am perfectly capable of providing evidence in favor of mainstream science on this thread. So, why couldn’t someone provide evidence in favor of some other point of view on this thread?

    Want an example? A paper was published recently that demonstrated a strong correlation between diving capacity and net surface charge on the myoglobin molecule. (“Evolution of mammalian diving capacity traced by myoglobin net surface charge.” Mirceta et al; Science; 2013) In animals that have evolved for diving the net surface charge is higher. In terrestrial animals, the net surface charge is lower. The only exceptions would be animals that have low metabolism (and therefore low oxygen consumption), such as manatees and dugongs; they are capable of diving even though they have low myoglobin charge. What’s more, it is possible to use myoglobin charge to infer recent aquatic ancestry in certain species (hyraxes, shrews, and whatnot).

    So, what is the net surface charge of human beings? Well, in table S2 in the supplementary material the authors present the myoglobin charge for every mammal you can think of.

    http://www.riverapes.com/images/Mirceta_Myoglobin_02.png

    Whales and pinnipeds are in the 3-5 range.
    Polar bear is 1.98.
    American water shrew is 2.54.
    African and Asian elephants are 2.11.

    And humans? 0.65 This is the same for all the greater and lesser apes except for orangutans and chimpanzees. 0.98 for orangutans, and 1.29 for chimpanzees.

    Take-home messages:

    1) There is no hint of aquatic ancestry here in the entire ape clade; humans being typical for apes.

    2) And chimpanzees (our closest relatives and the animal AATers are always comparing humans to in terms of aquaticism, saying how much more aquatic humans obviously are) score HIGHER than humans.

    Now, does this prove the AAT false? No. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No evidence PROVES the AAT false. The faithful can always find a way of wriggling and squirming out of the evidence.

    But this was yet another opportunity for some evidence in favor of the AAT to come to light, and once again this evidence supports the mainstream view that humans evolved in a terrestrial setting.

    So, you see, I can present legitimate evidence in this thread, even though it is just the comments thread to a blog. I can cite recent research. I can quote the content. I can link an image. And I can discuss the implications.

    People like Algis and Chris literally have NOTHING that even resembles this sort of thing. And why not? You can bet your bottom dollar that if the situation were reversed and chimp surface charge were 0.65 while human charge were 1.29 AATers would be trumpeting the news as if it were the second coming of Jesus. “It’s exactly what the AAT predicts! Humans are slightly more aquatic than chimps!”

    But they’re not, because there is no such evidence in their favor. Literally none.

    2) While I don’t expect them to give me evidence that will overturn mainstream anthro, I do expect them to support their beliefs with something rational and credible. (That’s what I expected 10 years ago. Experience has taught me not to hold my breath on that.) But they don’t even do that. All they have is writhing and squirming and excuse-making.

    Q: Where is your evidence?
    A: Hardy and Morgan have been demonized and misinterpreted!
    Q: Ya, but where is your evidence in favor of your story?
    A: It’s not the crazy idea people think! There are no mermaids! It’s just coastal apes.
    Q: Ok. So, where is your evidence for coastal apes?
    A: Mainstream anthropology is full of stubborn old meanies who won’t let anyone else contribute an idea!
    Q: Alright. So where is your evidence for your idea?
    A: What is so unreasonable about believing people evolved on the coast?
    Q: I guess it’s reasonable enough. So, what is your evidence?

    And on, and on, and on we go.

    I would love to debate and discuss evidence. Chris is incapable.

    How about you, Don. Wanna give it a try?

  222. #224 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 16, 2014

    Ohsu’s setting you up. He’s an Internet troll, it doesn’t matter what you’d say. You could be discussing gravity, he’d still warp everything. Just ignore him.

  223. #225 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 16, 2014

    Yes, Don, it’s a trick! Just like I’ve been tricking Chris into writing brain-dead evidence-free posts for years on end. Apparently I am a warlock.

  224. #226 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 16, 2014

    Any evidence today, Chris?

    Since you are flabbergasted that I would dare dispute “convergence”, why don’t you present some evidence that the supposedly aquatic features are actually convergent?

    You seem to think it’s common knowledge that they are convergent, and that AATers have already demonstrated that they’re convergent. So, you must be quite well-aware of the evidence I’m asking for.

    So, why not just tell us what it is. Pick any feature you want and lay out the evidence demonstrating that the feature is convergent with a comparable feature in an aquatic animal.

    You’re stunned and amazed that I don’t agree with you. It’s all so very obvious to you. So you should have no problem at all digging deep into your bag of AAT evidence and making your case.

    I’m waiting. (Of course, I’ve been waiting for 10 years and haven’t seen any evidence yet, so I’m not going to be surprised when you come back with nothing but the same evidence-free logical fallacies.)

  225. #227 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 16, 2014
  226. #228 holy cow
    February 16, 2014

    Why do you keep itching to squash someone? You know the limits of this debate yet you keep begging for someone to take a side you know has been defeated time and time again. It’s become very obvious that you’re more interested in the sadism and less the science. You’re like Clint Eastwood asking me to pick up the gun so you can shoot. And this is after I tried to point out how absurd it is for you to expect a revolution in anthropology to happen here on this thread.

    As for why I find your angry posts interesting, this is from the AAH wiki: “Carsten Niemitz has found more recent, weaker versions of the hypothesis more acceptable, approaching some of his own theories on human evolution.[14] The anthropologist Philip Tobias, having previously reportedly “given grudging respect” to certain aspects of the hypothesis “that seem more difficult to reason away”,[72] noted in a 2012 paper that rejection of the AAH led to stigmatization of a spectrum of topics related to the evolution of humans and their interaction with water. The result of this bias, in his and co-authors opinions, was an incomplete reconstruction of human evolution within varied landscapes.” I think you fit in there very nicely OHSU.

  227. #229 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 16, 2014

    “And this is after I tried to point out how absurd it is for you to expect a revolution in anthropology to happen here on this thread.”

    it is silly to expect a total revolution in anthropology. That is because there is so much evidence in favor of the mainstream.

    THIS THREAD is as good a place as any to discuss the evidence for mainstream theories, and for the AAT.

    There is nothing about THIS THREAD that disqualifies it as a place for anyone to present evidence for any idea.

    “As for why I find your angry posts interesting… I think you fit in there very nicely OHSU.”

    Fascinating. So, maybe there is a toned-down version of the AAT that explains the evolution of certain human features as being due to our interaction with water. And maybe I’m too biased to recognize these toned-down versions, because I’m too focused on an extreme version of it.

    Ok. I am happy to discuss that with you or anyone else.

    What toned-down version of the AAT would you like to discuss? What human features evolved due to selection pressure from toned-down interaction with water? What evidence is there that these features evolved due to selection for toned-down interaction water, rather than due to selection pressure for something else?

    You feel that I “fit in there very nicely”, so you must believe that some weak version of the AAT has merit, and my disagreement with it is out-of-proportion. So, please go ahead and defend that view.

    Let’s talk about it. Where is the evidence?

  228. #230 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 16, 2014

    Man, you really are addicted, aren’t you?

  229. #231 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 16, 2014

    Sure. Why not? There are worse addictions than debunking pseudoscience.

    Look, Don said that I fit a particular situation. The situation is one in which people reject a “weaker” version of the AAT because they’re biased against more extreme versions of the AAT.

    Why throw that comment out there and then not be willing to discuss it? There is only one way in which Don’s comment could be true: Some version of the AAT is actually supported by evidence.

    So, let’s identify that version of the AAT, whatever it is, and examine the evidence for it.

    Surely you wouldn’t have a problem with that, would you Chris?

    Where is the EVIDENCE for any version of the AAT, strong or weak?

    Don seems to think he’s made an insightful analysis of my attitude, but like everything else in this debate, his comment requires evidence; specifically, evidence that some “weak” version of the AAT is actually true. So, Don, where is the evidence. Let’s go over it.

  230. #232 holy cow
    February 16, 2014

    That’s some exceptionally lousy logic.

    It is absurd to expect something gorundbreaking in THIS THREAD, to use your belligerent tone, because as you’ve said repeatedly “it is silly to expect a total revolution in anthropology. That is because there is so much evidence in favor of the mainstream.” Do you understand that? Why do you think this thread is an exception? Why are you expecting for someone commenting here to bring you this breakthrough? And you have done this for years you say? It’s completely absurd.

    And no I am not espousing some weakened AAT. I’m sharing the view of a group of scientists. The stigma created around the rejection of the AAT can stifle productive discussion. Read it again if you have to. Then try to understand how you fit into this debate.

  231. #233 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 17, 2014

    “That’s some exceptionally lousy logic.”

    It only seems that way to you, because you’re heavily interpreting my words rather than reading what I’m actually saying. For example:.

    “It is absurd to expect something groundbreaking…”

    I don’t expect something groundbreaking. I’ve made it clear that I don’t expect something ground breaking. I even explained why I don’t expect something groundbreaking.

    Why bother responding to my posts if you won’t bother trying to understand them?

    “… in THIS THREAD, to use your belligerent tone…”

    You interpret my use of capitals as belligerent, but you’re wrong.I capitalized “THIS THREAD”, to draw your attention to it. I had already explained why there is nothing specific about this thread that disqualifies it as a place to discuss evidence, yet you continued to use the phrase “this thread” in phrasing your objections. Since you were overlooking something I had clearly and patiently addressed, I felt you might need further clarification.

    Perhaps if you don’t like my tone, you could consider reading my posts more carefully and responding more thoughtfully.

    “… because as you’ve said repeatedly “it is silly to expect a total revolution in anthropology. That is because there is so much evidence in favor of the mainstream.” Do you understand that? Why do you think this thread is an exception?”

    Since I was the one who wrote it, it stands to reason that I understand what I meant by it.

    But it appears from the content of your post that you have not taken the time to try to understand what I meant by it.

    Let me try again: I do not expect AATers to overthrow mainstream anthro ever. Not in this thread nor in any other medium.

    However, since AATers pop up in threads and forums all over the internet purporting to have good reasons for believing what they believe and trying to convince others to believe likewise, I expect them to be able to articulate and defend the basis of their belief.

    Did you understand me that time? I DO NOT expect AATers to overthrow mainstream anthro. I DO expect AATers to be willing and able to engage in a fact-based discussion.

    And this thread is as good a place as any to have that discussion.

    “Why are you expecting for someone commenting here to bring you this breakthrough?”

    I don’t. I don’t expect that break though to occur anywhere, ever.

    What I expect is for people who hold supposedly fact-based views and who show up in places like this making what appear to be fact-based assertions to be able to engage in a fact-based discussion.

    “And you have done this for years you say? It’s completely absurd.”

    It seems absurd to you, because you’re misinterpreting me. I recommend trying to understand what I’m saying before responding.

    “And no I am not espousing some weakened AAT. I’m sharing the view of a group of scientists.”

    It is not possible for me to “fit in nicely” with the paragraph you posted unless some version of the AAT (a “weak” version, maybe) is true.

    “The stigma created around the rejection of the AAT can stifle productive discussion.”

    When it comes to science “productive” discussions require evidence. There is nothing productive about insisting people accept a proposition in the absence of evidence.

    “Read it again if you have to. Then try to understand how you fit into this debate.”

    Oh, I understood it the first time. Here’s how I fit into this debate:

    Rather than accepting conjecture, I require evidence.

    Someone who values politeness over evidence might say, “Well, that certainly is a very interesting idea,” even though they know it has no merit. What I say is, “Where is the evidence?”

    And then when the person responds with non-evidence, conjecture, fallacies, and circular logic, a nice person says, “Well, I can see what you’re saying. It just seems to me that… Don’t you think that maybe…? Hm, you’ve got a good point.”

    What I do is bluntly point out that non-evidence, conjecture, fallacies, and circular logic are not evidence. And I continue to demand evidence.

    And I realize that I’m often not overly nice about it. But not being nice is not the same thing as stifling discussion.

    There is a kind of mentality kindergarten teachers have, where they avoid stifling children’s creativity by always being nice and praising the children, even when the children’s work is poor.

    While this approach makes sense with kindergarten children, it doesn’t make sense in a scientific discussion among adults. If you’re wrong, then you’re wrong, and nobody is doing you any favors by pretending you might be right.

    One of the most common complaints from pseudoscientists is that people are mean to them. But beyond the willingness to engage in discussion, there is no requirement that people be nice.

    We are not in kindergarten, and I am not trying to foster anyone’s creativity or build their self-esteem. We are adults, and the point of this discussion has always been whether the AAT is supported by evidence.

    Know what has always stifled the progress of the AAT? It isn’t meanness on the part of AAT opponents. It’s the lack of evidence on the part of AAT proponents.

  232. #234 holy cow
    February 17, 2014

    You’re obsessed with beating a theory to death that has long been dead. Look at the title of this page.

    “It is not possible for me to “fit in nicely” with the paragraph you posted unless some version of the AAT (a “weak” version, maybe) is true.” You only want to argue against a dead theory. The except I took from Wikipedia states that stigma caused by the rejection of the AAT caused discussion to be stifled. You’re rampant accusations of me being an AATer can be an example of that in action.

    You just can’t imagine being polite and discussing evidence at the same time. You have to value one more than the either. That is bullshit. Kindergarten has nothing to do with this.

  233. #235 Makouli
    Mpls
    February 17, 2014

    I do believe that boy is about to plead persecution. Right on schedule.

  234. #236 holy cow
    February 17, 2014

    “… rejection of the AAH led to stigmatization of a spectrum of topics related to the evolution of humans and their interaction with water. The result of this bias, in his and co-authors opinions, was an incomplete reconstruction of human evolution within varied landscapes.”

    This is not supporting AAT. Only obsession or bad reading comprehension would have you think so. This isn’t about stifling AAT. It’s about stifling a “spectrum of topics related to the evolution of humans and their interaction with water.”

    OHSU is still talking to me like I am offering support for the theory, even though I’ve explained otherwise on many occasions. What schedule are you talking about Makouli?

  235. #237 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 18, 2014

    See how easy it is to become a pariah on this? And you’re not even voicing support as such. Why is it an inconvenient truth, if we’re somehow old beach apes? (But why is it an inconvenient truth, that we’re an animal species?)

    And what does that even mean, “weak version of AAH”? There never was a “strong AAH” worth considering. For as long as I’ve known about this idea, I have never personally understood it as “dolphin-apes”, ’cause yeah, that makes no damn sense. Why can paleontologists freely discuss an aquatic pressure in the evolution of elephants, rhinos, tapirs, suids and even shrews, but anthropologists freak on it in apes? Because Elaine Morgan was not a member of their institution, that’s why, mate. You’re damn right, it’s persecution.

  236. #238 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 18, 2014

    “You’re obsessed with beating a theory to death that has long been dead.”

    The theory is dead. It’s supporters are very active. And they show up on threads like this promoting their nonsense.

    “You’re rampant accusations of me being an AATer can be an example of that in action.”

    So, you’re saying that I’m stifling you? You’d like to talk about the AAT but my attitude is preventing you?

    Why don’t you try growing a backbone?

    “You just can’t imagine being polite and discussing evidence at the same time.”

    Sure I can. And I do discuss the AAT politely with lots of people lots of time. I just don’t feel obligated to remain polite when people say stupid things.

    “You have to value one more than the either.”

    In most social interactions I value politeness very highly. But in science discussions I definitely value evidence more than politeness.

    Science isn’t about being polite. Science is about generating explanations for observable phenomena. There is no limit to the value of evidence in science. Evidence is everything. Politeness on the other hand has relatively limited value. And there are even circumstances where valuing politeness on the same level as evidence can be counter productive.

    One of those circumstances is where one’s opponents make factual misrepresentations.

    If you can’t understand why valuing a social nicety at the same level as demonstrable reality doesn’t make sense in a scientific discussion, then you have no place in a scientific discussion.

  237. #239 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 18, 2014

    “This isn’t about stifling AAT. It’s about stifling a “spectrum of topics related to the evolution of humans and their interaction with water.””

    Aaaahhh. I get it. You want to talk about something on the spectrum of topics related to the evolution of humans and our interaction with water, but you feel I’m stifling you.

    Well, why didn’t you jus say so? Go ahead and bring up your topic about man’s interaction with water (that isn’t the AAT but falls along that spectrum) and I’ll discuss it with you and try not to stifle you.

  238. #240 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 18, 2014

    “See how easy it is to become a pariah on this?”

    See how easy it is to become butthurt and imagine that you’ve become a pariah?

    See how easy it is to use the excuse of having been marginalized when you have no evidence?

    See how easy it is to wipe away each others’ tears and commiserate about how badly you’ve been treated rather than engage in a discussion of facts?

    You know who else does this? Bigfoot believers, UFO believers, Alien DNA believers, homeopathy believers, and every other species of pseudoscientist.

    You know who doesn’t do this? People who have evidence to discuss.

    “Why is it an inconvenient truth, if we’re somehow old beach apes?”

    Where is your evidence that we’re old beach apes? Present it and we’ll talk about it.

    “Why can paleontologists freely discuss an aquatic pressure in the evolution of elephants, rhinos, tapirs, suids and even shrews…”

    They have evidence.

    “… but anthropologists freak on it in apes?”

    They don’t “freak”. They reject the proposition because it isn’t supported by evidence.

    “Because Elaine Morgan was not a member of their institution, that’s why, mate.”

    No. It’s because Elaine Morgan’s arguments were not supported by factually accurate statements that rationally supported her conclusions.

    Crying persecution is what people do when they have no evidence.

    “You’re damn right, it’s persecution.”

    I wish you understood how delusional this makes you look.

  239. #241 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 18, 2014

    #238 quote: “One of those circumstances is where one’s opponents make factual misrepresentations.”

    Yeah, like misrepresenting AAH, insisting it’s about seafaring apes, when it’s nothing of the sort and never was. Which is the same as depicting Charles Darwin as a chimp. Just now you made Hardy sound like he posited us as seal-apes, which he didn’t, or that he argued that we must’ve habitually hunted turtles, which he didn’t (which is rather a lot to draw from that one comma sentence, ain’t it?). Why do you feel the need to do that, human? You’re really not that crazy about dealing with what is actually being posited, but only the distorted versions, aren’t you? Why? If the concept really is that crazy, you don’t have to. Because then the actual suggestion doesn’t come of as crazy? What other debate group is distorting scientific presentation this way, because they need some scientific figure or other to be wrong? Who else still cries, “There’s no evidence, there’s no evidence,” when that’s all there is?
    http://clatl.com/images/blogimages/2011/02/04/1296863878-darwin_ape.jpg

    #240 quote: “They don’t ‘freak’. They reject the proposition, because it isn’t supported by evidence.”

    Aha. ‘Cause there’s no evidence for floating continents either, I reckon. Because an entire scientific field can’t possibly be wrong for so many decades on a new perspective. No, anthropology has freaked on this idea ever since Morgan’s first entry in 1972. The opposition has always been completely disproportionate, and still is. Rejecting both Plilip Tobias and even David Attenborough, just because they’re among the first to break the spell. Even Greg here is talking about “another nail in the coffin,” while there never were any nails to begin with. Because there’s an alternative agenda going on, hopefully only in his subconscious, namely fleeing from the embarassment, that his field didn’t pick up on an important new idea in time. This is the same psychology of the Catholic church wanting to shut up Galileo.

  240. #242 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 18, 2014

    “Yeah, like misrepresenting AAH, insisting it’s about seafaring apes, when it’s nothing of the sort and never was.”

    This really is a side issue. It’s just something for you to whine about as a way of avoiding debating evidence.

    You feel that Hardy was misrepresented. Ok, then correct the misrepresentation. Describe the facts of the AAT the way YOU see them. What version of the AAT do YOU believe in? During what time period did human ancestors become aquatic? Where did they live? Lakes? Rivers? The ocean? What sort of lifestyle did hominis have? What did they eat? Did they wade? Did they swim? What physical features evolved as a result of aquatic pressures?

    Now, what evidence do you have for your concept of the AAT?

    You can spend your time whining and crying about how Hardy’s version of the story has been distorted, or you can spend your time making a case for what you believe to be the REAL story.

    Given these two options, why would anyone choose to waste YEARS of his life whining about Hardy?

    “Aha. ‘Cause there’s no evidence for floating continents either, I reckon.”

    Logical fallacy. Just because some scientists whose ideas were initially rejected turned out to be right doesn’t mean that everyone who is rejected will eventually turn out to be right.

    “Because an entire scientific field can’t possibly be wrong for so many decades on a new perspective.”

    Sure they can. And the way to prove the scientific community wrong is… evidence.

    Not whining. Not crying about being persecuted. Not reinterpreting Hardy.

    Evidence. Bring it.

    “No, anthropology has freaked on this idea… Plilip Tobias and even David Attenborough… fleeing from the embarrassment… Catholic church… Galileo.”

    Blah, blah, blah.

    You whine and cry and bawl about persecution and mistreatment, but you steadfastly avoid any discussion of evidence.

    You may gain some sympathy this way, but you’ll NEVER change anyone’s mind about the veracity of the AAT. The only way to do that is to assemble and defend an evidence-based argument that withstands rigorous critical scrutiny.

    I’ve been challenging you to do this for a long time, Chris, and you’ve never had the guts to step up to the challenge.

    What version of the AAT do YOU believe in? Describe it in detail and defend it with evidence.

  241. #243 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 18, 2014

    Anyone who read Chris’s most recent post might come away thinking, “Wow, this guy is right. He’s made a lot of good points. People like Wegener and Galileo were rejected and persecuted, but they later turned out to be right! Maybe anthropologist have mistinterpreted Hardy. Maybe they are hysterical about the AAT. I’m going to be more open-minded than that! I’m going to give the AAT a chance.”

    Then… what? If they’re expecting Chris to explain the AAT in detail and provide some evidence for his story, they’re going to be waiting a long time. See, Chris doesn’t have anything else. This is his shtick. He whines and cries about distortions and misrepresentations and witch hunts, and then he retreats for a while, only to come back in a few days and repeat the whole thing. He never gets around to actually talking about the details of any version of the AAT.

    I have been trying for YEARS to get him to quit bawling about being persecuted and actually talk about the AAT, but I can’t get him to do it.

    Anyone else out there want to give it a try? Don? Think you can get him to do it?

    He obviously believes in some version of the AAT, because he’s been hanging around defending Hardy and Morgan for YEARS. He obviously thinks he has good reasons for believing it. What are they?

  242. #244 holy cow
    February 18, 2014

    You might have a problem with how or why Chris is saying beach-ape, but I’ve watched you drag that back to seal-apes and dolphin-apes, ideas that don’t seem to have a chance at being true. It might not be such a strong example of stigmatization without more articulation from Chris on how these ideas are different. But on the other hand, here is how you finished that exchange:
    #207
    “You’re wrong about Hardy and Morgan. You’re like a religious apologist re-interpreting the Bible because as a modern man he doesn’t like what the stone age barbarians had to say. ”
    So that settles it for me. But you could try to explain how you are not stigmatizing Chris for what “stone age barbarians had to say.”

    I explained many times that I never offered any and do not support AAT, but even in recent comments you challenged me to do so. Is that stigma again?

    I can see why you might take me for a supporter of the theory because by bringing up stigma I give support to Chris. But it does not mean that Chris is right. No weak version or statement of the theory needs to be true in order for you to be stigmatizing the discussion.

    You had a long exchange with Chris where you explained the true orthodoxy of the Hardy and Morgan ideas, called him a fool in various ways for not agreeing with you and supporting what you say are different ideas. Then you accused him of religiousity. How does that make any sense to you? Why are you surprised when he says its unfair?

  243. #245 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 18, 2014

    - – #242 Quote: ”You feel that Hardy was misrepresented. Ok, then correct the misrepresentation. Describe the facts of the AAT the way YOU see them. What version of the AAT do YOU believe in? During what time period did human ancestors become aquatic? Where did they live? Lakes? Rivers? The ocean? What sort of lifestyle did hominins have? What did they eat? Did they wade? Did they swim? What physical features evolved as a result of aquatic pressures?”
    Are we seriously still doing this? My day job leaves me very little time to make these long posts all over again, and I can only imagine that you try to wear me out, so you can return to your fantasy about winning. (And then fueled by that false victory afterwards take a shower and go out on the town, trying to find a mate.)
    So one more time, to summarize the many and complex facets of this debate as best as I can:
    Aegyptopithecus (35mya) and its descendant Proconsul (20mya) lived as primitive tree-climbing simians in African jungles, being the common ancestors of all great and lesser apes. In a generally warmer period from 12-9 mya, the African jungles migrated out of Africa and covered Southern Eurasia with tropical jungle, and ape descendants from Proconsul in the form of Dryopithecus-forms (15-9mya), migrated along with it to populate Southern Asia and Southern Europe, e.g. along the dwindling Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean. A side-branch, Sivapithecus (12.5-8.5mya), became the ancestor of extant Pongo and was isolated in South East Asian jungles, when the generally warmer period ended circa 9mya. The jungles receded back into Africa, forcing the Dryopithecus apes to migrate along with it again. In that process, Dryopithecus split three-ways towards the lineages of extant Gorilla, Pan and Homo, the latter ending up in East Africa as the intermediary stages Sahelanthropus (7mya), Orrorin (6mya), Ardipithecus (4.4mya), and the Australopithecines and Homos (4mya-extant).
    Considering aquaticism in human evolution is based chiefly on extant Homo sapiens’ physiology and to a certain extent its ethology, which for many differ greatly from the other hominoids, and which can be argued to have convergences in a range of aquatic, semiaquatic and former semiaquatic mammals. As proponed by Alister Hardy, Elaine Morgan and in recent decades Nicole and Renato Bender, Algis Kuliukas, Stephen Cunnane, Leigh Broadhurst, Marc Verhaegen and Michael Crawford amongst others, traits such as vertical habitual bipedalism, near-hairlessness, descended larynx, high encephalization, factors related to reproduction as well as observed habitat and bathing preferences, again to name but a few, can be said to have parallels in aquatics. The most obvious one is our drastically reduced fur cover combined with a layer of insulating skinfat, interpreting this as a primitive layer of blubber.
    When some level of aquaticism could have emerged during this process needs to be thoroughly scrutinized, before a timeline can be drawn up with some certainty. The earliest aquatic possibility I see already with Dryopithecus-forms 15-9mya around the dwindling Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean, this seeing a connection between consuming aquatic foods and emerging encephalization in several mammal groups, this again based on the biochemical studies of e.g. Cunnane et al on extant sapiens. Already European Dryopithecus fontani and Hispanopithecus hungaricus (12-9mya) is listed with the same size brain as Ardi (circa 300cc), which has a considerable bigger body, a brain size twice that of a likely ancestor like Proconsul heseloni (19-17mya) from East Africa. The earliest growth of the ape brain would then also be linked to aquaticism in the extant mid-size brains of Pongo, Gorilla and Pan, but during the ape migration into SE Asia (Pongo) and back into Africa (Gorilla, Pan and Homo), the brain development stagnated in the first three, which today have ranges of 350-500cc, by adapting to drier arboreal habitats, while the latter has come as far as 1400cc by staying in water. This angle of course has to be further scrutinized in much more detail, e.g. by attempting to discern possible aquatic diets of these early Dryopithecus-like forms.
    Another factor to base an aquatic angle from, and one which can be considered from the fossil archive, is bipedalism. When observing extant simian species (not just apes, but also monkeys), a wide range of species are prone to vertical bipedalism when moving through shallow water. Examples of vertically bipedal waders other than Homo include Gorilla, Pan, Pongo, Papio, Nasalis, Macaca and others, and all these can offer an extant glimpse into the aquatic cause of emerging human bipedalism, similar to how extant lung fish can offer an image of how ancient fish forms originally adapted to land. Based on that link, the date for human aquaticism would be from 7mya with Sahelanthropus tchadensis (suggested bipedal), or at least from 4.4mya with Ardi (a more certain bipedal). Unfortunately, I can’t think of a method to discern from fossilized material whether that bipedalism occured largely in water, ’cause that don’t fossilize, don’it?
    At least with Homo erectus’ giant leap in brain size circa 2mya (above 1000cc), I’d say human semiaquaticism was full-fledged, again based on the nutritional observation. With Homo erectus, I still find it likely that the rapid brain expansion was caused by a transition from freshwater habitats in the hinterlands of Africa by australopithecus-forms and to salt water and possibly alkaline habitats, which contain much higher levels of especially Iodine, vital to extant sapiens’ brain. The max level of aquaticism I can’t discern, ’cause that don’t fossilize either, but based on the aquatic level of extant sapiens (e.g. my personal observation of the readiness in which all extant sapiens can reach extensive freediving capability with little aquatic exposure), I’d suspect that foraging for e.g. molluscs full of PUFA’s and Iodine within the ten meter depth range, holding our breath upwards of 1-4 minutes salvaging these foods, would be well within the reach of both ancient and extant hominins.
    Based on all the above, if other apes also started to grow a large brain based on aquaticism at a very early stage, but then left the water due to abandoning wet habitats and consequently saw stagnation in brain development, which we may be in the process of e.g. with terrestrial agriculture, this means that our own brain development and upkeep risks a similar stagnation on a global scale.
    There, you got your wish. That’s my personal consensus as of present date, being the amateur I am, a consensus always subject to change pending new data. See how complex a topic it is? And I haven’t included half the pertinent details, but I’m tired and gotta work tomorrow.
    – – #242 quote: “Just because some scientists whose ideas were initially rejected turned out to be right doesn’t mean that everyone who is rejected will eventually turn out to be right.”
    Yeah, but it doesn’t mean that nobody who is rejected will eventually turn out to be right, either.

    Greg, we need your say in this. I don’t think Ohsu is an academic.

  244. #246 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 18, 2014

    - – #242 Quote: ”You feel that Hardy was misrepresented. Ok, then correct the misrepresentation. Describe the facts of the AAT the way YOU see them. What version of the AAT do YOU believe in? During what time period did human ancestors become aquatic? Where did they live? Lakes? Rivers? The ocean? What sort of lifestyle did hominins have? What did they eat? Did they wade? Did they swim? What physical features evolved as a result of aquatic pressures?”

    Are we seriously still doing this? My day job leaves me very little time to make these long posts all over again, and I can only imagine that you try to wear me out, so you can return to your fantasy about winning. (And then fueled by that false victory afterwards take a shower and go out on the town, trying to find a mate.)

    So one more time, to summarize the many and complex facets of this debate as best as I can:

    Aegyptopithecus (35mya) and its descendant Proconsul (20mya) lived as primitive tree-climbing simians in African jungles, being the common ancestors of all great and lesser apes. In a generally warmer period from 12-9 mya, the African jungles migrated out of Africa and covered Southern Eurasia with tropical jungle, and ape descendants from Proconsul in the form of Dryopithecus-forms (15-9mya), migrated along with it to populate Southern Asia and Southern Europe, e.g. along the dwindling Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean. A side-branch, Sivapithecus (12.5-8.5mya), became the ancestor of extant Pongo and was isolated in South East Asian jungles, when the generally warmer period ended circa 9mya. The jungles receded back into Africa, forcing the Dryopithecus apes to migrate along with it again. In that process, Dryopithecus split three-ways towards the lineages of extant Gorilla, Pan and Homo, the latter ending up in East Africa as the intermediary stages Sahelanthropus (7mya), Orrorin (6mya), Ardipithecus (4.4mya), and the Australopithecines and Homos (4mya-extant).

    Considering aquaticism in human evolution is based chiefly on extant Homo sapiens’ physiology and to a certain extent its ethology, which for many differ greatly from the other hominoids, and which can be argued to have convergences in a range of aquatic, semiaquatic and former semiaquatic mammals. As proponed by Alister Hardy, Elaine Morgan and in recent decades Nicole and Renato Bender, Algis Kuliukas, Stephen Cunnane, Leigh Broadhurst, Marc Verhaegen and Michael Crawford amongst others, traits such as vertical habitual bipedalism, near-hairlessness, descended larynx, high encephalization, factors related to reproduction as well as observed habitat and bathing preferences, again to name but a few, can be said to have parallels in aquatics. The most obvious one is our drastically reduced fur cover combined with a layer of insulating skinfat, interpreting this as a primitive layer of blubber.

    When some level of aquaticism could have emerged during this process needs to be thoroughly scrutinized, before a timeline can be drawn up with some certainty. The earliest aquatic possibility I see already with Dryopithecus-forms 15-9mya around the dwindling Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean, this seeing a connection between consuming aquatic foods and emerging encephalization in several mammal groups, this again based on the biochemical studies of e.g. Cunnane et al on extant sapiens. Already European Dryopithecus fontani and Hispanopithecus hungaricus (12-9mya) is listed with the same size brain as Ardi (circa 300cc), which has a considerable bigger body, a brain size twice that of a likely ancestor like Proconsul heseloni (19-17mya) from East Africa. The earliest growth of the ape brain would then also be linked to aquaticism in the extant mid-size brains of Pongo, Gorilla and Pan, but during the ape migration into SE Asia (Pongo) and back into Africa (Gorilla, Pan and Homo), the brain development stagnated in the first three, which today have ranges of 350-500cc, by adapting to drier arboreal habitats, while the latter has come as far as 1400cc by staying in water. This angle of course has to be further scrutinized in much more detail, e.g. by attempting to discern possible aquatic diets of these early Dryopithecus-like forms.

    Another factor to base an aquatic angle from, and one which can be considered from the fossil archive, is bipedalism. When observing extant simian species (not just apes, but also monkeys), a wide range of species are prone to vertical bipedalism when moving through shallow water. Examples of vertically bipedal waders other than Homo include Gorilla, Pan, Pongo, Papio, Nasalis, Macaca and others, and all these can offer an extant glimpse into the aquatic cause of emerging human bipedalism, similar to how extant lung fish can offer an image of how ancient fish forms originally adapted to land. Based on that link, the date for human aquaticism would be from 7mya with Sahelanthropus tchadensis (suggested bipedal), or at least from 4.4mya with Ardi (a more certain bipedal). Unfortunately, I can’t think of a method to discern from fossilized material whether that bipedalism occured largely in water, ’cause that don’t fossilize, don’it?

    At least with Homo erectus’ giant leap in brain size circa 2mya (above 1000cc), I’d say human semiaquaticism was full-fledged, again based on the nutritional observation. With Homo erectus, I still find it likely that the rapid brain expansion was caused by a transition from freshwater habitats in the hinterlands of Africa by australopithecus-forms and to salt water and possibly alkaline habitats, which contain much higher levels of especially Iodine, vital to extant sapiens’ brain. The max level of aquaticism I can’t discern, ’cause that don’t fossilize either, but based on the aquatic level of extant sapiens (e.g. my personal observation of the readiness in which all extant sapiens can reach extensive freediving capability with little aquatic exposure), I’d suspect that foraging for e.g. molluscs full of PUFA’s and Iodine within the ten meter depth range, holding our breath upwards of 1-4 minutes salvaging these foods, would be well within the reach of both ancient and extant hominins.

    Based on all the above, if other apes also started to grow a large brain based on aquaticism at a very early stage, but then left the water due to abandoning wet habitats and consequently saw stagnation in brain development, which we may be in the process of e.g. with terrestrial agriculture, this means that our own brain development and upkeep risks a similar stagnation on a global scale.

    There, you got your wish. That’s my personal consensus as of present date, being the amateur I am, a consensus always subject to change pending new data. See how complex a topic it is? And I haven’t included half the pertinent details, but I’m tired and gotta work tomorrow.

    – – #242 quote: “Just because some scientists whose ideas were initially rejected turned out to be right doesn’t mean that everyone who is rejected will eventually turn out to be right.”

    Yeah, but it doesn’t mean that nobody who is rejected will eventually turn out to be right, either.

    Greg, we need your say in this. I don’t think Ohsu is an academic.

  245. #247 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 18, 2014

    I think my computer is just as tired as me …

  246. #248 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 18, 2014

    – #243 Quote: Anyone who read Chris’s most recent post might come away thinking, “Wow, this guy is right. He’s made a lot of good points. People like Wegener and Galileo were rejected and persecuted, but they later turned out to be right! Maybe anthropologist have mistinterpreted Hardy. Maybe they are hysterical about the AAT. I’m going to be more open-minded than that! I’m going to give the AAT a chance.”

    Yes, I’m sorry if I’m inadvertently corrupting the minds of the youth of planet Earth.

  247. #249 UillF
    Scotland
    February 19, 2014

    #246

    Chris
    Unless your claim is modern humans cannot walk upright, it is Morthopithecus
    twenty odd million years ago, not the Proconsul.

    The rest of your hypotheses for an “aquatic interlude” in hominin evolution is
    unrealistic (an unnecessary) , particularly where it relates to bipedalism in
    hominins, diet and how the brain evolved in humans.

    Where bipedalism is concerned, you are effectively putting the cart before horse,
    and the ‘shore’ diet you postulate for ‘brain development’ for starters lacks a
    source of fat, a crucial part of the early hominin diet . An your for iodine claim
    appears to be based on iodine availability today, rather than on what was
    available during the millions of years of hominin evolution.

  248. #250 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 19, 2014

    Don:

    “You might have a problem with how or why Chris is saying beach-ape…”

    I have no problem with how he’s saying it. My only problem is with the lack of evidence.

    “…but I’ve watched you drag that back to seal-apes and dolphin-apes, ideas that don’t seem to have a chance at being true.”

    Of course they don’t have a chance. But that’s what Hardy and Morgan said. And the only reason I have talked about it at all is because Chris keeps crying that Hardy and Morgan’s original ideas have been distorted and misrepresented. In refutation of that whiny sideline, I have presented Hardy and Morgan’s actual words where Hardy compares human ancestors to seals and penguins, and Morgan says they were approximately as aquatic as otters.

    I do NOT bring up these quotes because the only version of the AAT I want to debate is some extreme version. I’m happy to debate ANY version. I’ll debate a moderate version, or a weak version, or even just any single topic of man’s interaction with water. I don’t care.

    “So that settles it for me. But you could try to explain how you are not stigmatizing Chris for what “stone age barbarians had to say.””

    I’m not criticizing Chris for believing in the AAT in that exchange. Nor am I “stigmatizing” any aspect of the AAT. I’m criticizing Chris for engaging in a tactic used by modern Christians who reinterpret the Bible.

    The Bible condones all kinds of things modern Christians disagree with, and so they reinterpret the Bible to suit their modern values.

    Similarly, Hardy and Morgan said things Chris disagrees with. Rather than just saying, “Hardy and Morgan said things I disagree with,’ he reinterprets them, insisting that they didn’t say what they said, or that they meant things other than what they clearly meant.

    Am I criticizing Chris. Yes, I am. But not all criticism is “stigmatizing”. There is a difference.

    “I explained many times that I never offered any and do not support AAT, but even in recent comments you challenged me to do so. Is that stigma again?”

    It seems you don’t understand the meaning of the word “stigma”. Not all criticism is “stigma”. Not all challenges are “stigma”. Not all disagreements are “stigma”.

    “No weak version or statement of the theory needs to be true in order for you to be stigmatizing the discussion.”

    Not all disagreement is stigmatization. And, yes, crying persecution does make you look like a supporter.

    “You had a long exchange with Chris where you explained the true orthodoxy of the Hardy and Morgan ideas, called him a fool in various ways for not agreeing with you and supporting what you say are different ideas. Then you accused him of religiousity. How does that make any sense to you?”

    I didn’t explain any “orthodoxy”. I simply quoted their words where their meaning is clear. There is nothing irrational about discussing facts as they exist. Finding ways to rationalize away facts is a form of cognitive dissonance, and there is nothing irrational about describing someone’s cognitive blind spots.

    It may not be nice, but it isn’t nonsensical.

    “Why are you surprised when he says its unfair?”

    No. Not surprised at all. I fully expect someone steeped in religious cognitive dissonance to cry persecution.

  249. #251 GregH
    February 19, 2014

    250 comments so far! Greg has struck a deep vein of something…

  250. #252 holy cow
    February 19, 2014

    Don’t take some quote out of mine our of context and then simply say, “no I’m not” without explaining how.
    An example of what you do a lot of the time:

    “No weak version or statement of the theory needs to be true in order for you to be stigmatizing the discussion.”

    Not all disagreement is stigmatization( thats true. but i explained how you are. how about adressing what is going on here). And, yes, crying persecution does make you look like a supporter ( again, are you going to adress how I am actually supporting? I made the distinction).

    You have a problem with how Chris is saying beach-ape, ie no evidence. You refute a lot of what I say in meaningless ways.

    You shouldn’t need to quote me much at all. Just explain yourself. We ran into this problem before, telling me I’m wrong without explaining anything more than some accusations that I have bad reading comprehension or English is my second language doesn’t make an argument.

    Explain yourself. Criticising Chris for the more looney ideas of the past which he does not agree with or endorse is stigmatizing him. Of course you could disagree on the interpretations of those past ideas. But that’s not talking to Chris about his stance on these issues. It’s stigmatizing him. And you said it yourself, you beleive those are words Chris needs to be embarrassed over even though he’s telling you he doesn’t endorse them. How would you react if you were attacked for some boneheaded mainstream ideas from the past? Do you see how I’m explaining myself. Now you try it.

    Also, on the orthodoxy. You are holding someone to what you believe to be the true meaning of some old texts. That is pushing orthodoxy. You can’t follow that by saying he is the one steeped with religious cognitive dissonance. It might be true that he has some religious sort of way about believing AAT. But the way you are attacking him isn’t too productive.

  251. #253 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 19, 2014

    “Are we seriously still doing this?’

    “Still” doing this? Chris, you have never laid out your version of the AAT. You can’t “still” be doing something you’ve never done.

    I’m still asking you to do it, because you’ve never done it.

    “My day job leaves me very little time to make these long posts all over again…”

    Then quit making the same long posts over and over again. They’re just pointless whining anyway. Try posting something meaningful.

    I mean, you’re here wasting your time posting. Why not substitute something potentially useful?

    “… and I can only imagine that you try to wear me out…”

    I’m not going to accept factually inaccurate bullshit, if that’s what you mean.

    “So one more time…”

    Can you identify a time in the past when you’ve done this before?

    “Aegyptopithecus… Proconsul… the African jungles… Dryopithecus-forms … Tethys Sea … Sivapithecus … Pongo … Dryopithecus apes … Gorilla, Pan and Homo…”

    Thanks for the copy and paste. That didn’t answer any questions whatsoever about your views on the AAT.

    “aquaticism …which can be argued to have convergences in a range of aquatic, semiaquatic and former semiaquatic mammals.”

    Ok, this is where I ask for evidence. You say that convergence “can be argued”, but you skip over the part where you actually make the argument.

    Where is your evidence that these features are convergent with features in aquatic mammals?

    In order for a trait to be convergent you must:

    1) Accurately describe a feature as being very similar between two species.
    2) Demonstrate that the trait serves the same function in both species.
    3) Demonstrate that it evolved under similar selection pressures in both species.

    Evidence?

    “vertical habitual bipedalism”

    How can this trait be convergent with aquatic mammals when there are no aquatic mammals that have this trait?

    “near-hairlessness”

    Evidence that this trait is convergent?

    1) No aquatic mammals has a hair distribution pattern even remotely similar to that of humans.
    2) What is the function of reduced hair in some aquatic mammals? In humans? Why don’t all aquatic mammals have reduced hair?
    3) Where is your evidence that humans and aquatic mammals underwent similar selection pressure for our respective hair patterns?.

    “descended larynx”

    Evidence that this trait is convergent?

    1) Which aquatic mammals have a descended larynx? How is their descended larynx similar to that of humans? What terrestrial mammals have descended larynx? How is their larynx similar to that of humans?
    2) What is the function of the descended larynx in aquatic mammals? In humans? In terrestrial mammals?
    3) Where is the evidence that humans and aquatic mammals underwent similar selection pressures for this feature?

    “high encephalization”

    1. Accurately describe human brain morphology. What parts of our brain are big, and why? What aquatic mammals have big brains? What aquatic mammals don’t have bigger brains than their terrestrial relatives? What terrestrial animals have big brains (such as other primates)?
    2) Is there a functional reason for encephalization in cetaceans that is related to senses such as echo location? Is the functional explanation of encephalization in humans different?
    3) What evidence do you have that humans evolved this trait under the same selection pressure as aquatic animals?

    “factors related to reproduction”

    Like what?

    “as well as observed habitat”

    What habitat? What about humans that live in other habitats, like deserts, mountains, forests, savannas, tundras?

    How does your habitat argument support the AAT?

    “and bathing preferences”

    How does the fact that we like to take baths demonstrate that we evolved in a watery environment?

    “can be said to have parallels in aquatics”

    1) They also have parallels in non-aquatics. You’re just ignoring them.
    2) There are plenty of aquatic mammals that don’t have those features.

    “The most obvious one is our drastically reduced fur cover”

    Most aquatic mammals are covered in fur.

    “combined with a layer of insulating skinfat”

    1) We’re fat because we over eat. African hunter-gatherers, such as the San Bushmen, are no fatter than other primates.
    2) Captive primates who are allowed to over eat become fat just like humans, and their fat composition and distribution are the same.

    “interpreting this as a primitive layer of blubber.”

    Can you provide any actual evidence that it is a “primitive layer of blubber?”

    “When some level of aquaticism could have emerged during this process needs to be thoroughly scrutinized, before a timeline can be drawn up with some certainty.”

    Do you have any evidence?

    “The earliest aquatic possibility I see already with Dryopithecus-forms 15-9mya around the dwindling Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean, this seeing a connection between consuming aquatic foods and emerging encephalization in several mammal groups”

    Evidence?

    “this again based on the biochemical studies of e.g. Cunnane et al on extant sapiens.”

    The last topic we debated on TR before you ran away was the “nutritional observation”. You are perfectly aware that terrestrial hunter-gatherers with no access to the marine food chain develop perfectly normal brains. I showed you a published observation by the peers of Cunnane et al stating that terrestrial hunter gatherers have no problem getting enough brain-specific nutrients.

    It is delusional of you to pretend that you haven’t had these falsehoods corrected already.

    “The earliest growth of the ape brain would then also be linked to aquaticism”

    Where is your evidence for this?

    “in the extant mid-size brains of Pongo, Gorilla and Pan, but during the ape migration into SE Asia (Pongo) and back into Africa (Gorilla, Pan and Homo), the brain development stagnated in the first three, which today have ranges of 350-500cc, by adapting to drier arboreal habitats, while the latter has come as far as 1400cc by staying in water.”

    Evidence?

    “This angle of course has to be further scrutinized in much more detail”

    Not “more detail”. “More detail” implies that you’ve already scrutinized it in some detail. So far all you’ve done is float evidence-free conjecture.

    “by attempting to discern possible aquatic diets of these early Dryopithecus-like forms.”

    Or any evidence whatsoever.

    “Examples of vertically bipedal waders other than Homo include Gorilla, Pan, Pongo, Papio, Nasalis, Macaca and others, and all these can offer an extant glimpse into the aquatic cause of emerging human bipedalism”

    1) Read the Ardi papers. No human ancestors was particularly similar to present-day apes in locomotor anatomy. No human ancestor was a knuckle-walking chimp-like ape. So simple observation of the locomotor behavior of modern great apes is of little value in understanding the evolution of human bipedalism.

    2) All primates are bipedal in many circumstances. Supposing human ancestors needed a specific selection pressure to evolve bipedalism (which I don’t suppose; but let’s just assume it for the sake of argument) where is your evidence that wading was the critical selection pressure rather than something else?

    “Based on that link…”

    You have provided no link, merely bald conjecture with no evidence whatsoever.

    “Unfortunately, I can’t think of a method to discern from fossilized material whether that bipedalism occured largely in water, ’cause that don’t fossilize, don’it?”

    So, you posit a “link” between bipedalism and aquaticism for which you not only have no evidence, but for which you can’t even imagine any evidence?

    Interesting.

    Actually, there are a few ways to judge relative aquaticism from fossils.

    1) One of those ways is reconstruction of paleoenvironment. As it turns out, environmental reconstructions of human ancestors consistently place them in open woodland, wooded, grassland, and grassland. Not swamps, marshes, or wetlands.

    2) Another way is to look at the fossil assemblages found with any given hominid fossil. If we found hominid fossils in assemblages comprised mostly of aquatic animals, we would say that hominids spent a lot of time in water. If we find them in fossil assemblages of predominantly terrestrial animals, we’d say that they were terrestrial.

    As it turns out, hominids are never found in fossil assemblages with a disproportionately high amount of aquatic animals, and they’re sometimes found in fossil assemblages with NO AQUATIC ANIMALS. Read that again and think about it. Some hominid fossils have been found in assemblages with NO AQUATIC ANIMALS.

    Did you know that there are no examples of aquatic species being found in assemblages comprised entirely of terrestrial animals? There are sometimes cases where terrestrial animals are found in assemblages comprised entirely of aquatic animals, but never the other way around.

    Do know why? Go do some reading about taphonomy.

    “At least with Homo erectus’ giant leap in brain size circa 2mya (above 1000cc), I’d say human semiaquaticism was full-fledged”

    Do you realize that the fossils that demonstrate encephalization of human ancestors are found hundreds of miles from any ocean? Do you realize that paleoenvironmental studies place all these fossils in open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland?

    So, where is your evidence?

    “…again based on the nutritional observation.”

    The last topic we debated on TR before you ran away was the “nutritional observation”. You are perfectly aware that terrestrial hunter-gatherers with no access to the marine food chain develop perfectly normal brains. I showed you a published observation by the peers of Cunnane et al stating that terrestrial hunter gatherers have no problem getting enough brain-specific nutrients.

    It is delusional of you to pretend that you haven’t had these falsehoods corrected already.

    “With Homo erectus, I still find it likely that the rapid brain expansion was caused by a transition from freshwater habitats in the hinterlands of Africa by australopithecus-forms and to salt water and possibly alkaline habitats,”

    Evidence?

    “which contain much higher levels of especially Iodine, vital to extant sapiens’ brain.”

    The last topic we debated on TR before you ran away was the “nutritional observation”. You are perfectly aware that terrestrial hunter-gatherers with no access to the marine food chain develop perfectly normal brains. I showed you a published observation by the peers of Cunnane et al stating that terrestrial hunter gatherers have no problem getting enough brain-specific nutrients.

    It is delusional of you to pretend that you haven’t had these falsehoods corrected already.

    “The max level of aquaticism I can’t discern, ’cause that don’t fossilize either, but based on the aquatic level of extant sapiens (e.g. my personal observation of the readiness in which all extant sapiens can reach extensive freediving capability with little aquatic exposure)”

    We have discussed the myoglobin surface charge studies with you, Chris, and you are well aware that the AAT diving argument has been refuted.

    Human diving ability is not a feature that evolved as a consequence of an evolutionary history of diving. If it were, humans would not have a LOWER myoglobin charge than chimps.

    “I’d suspect that foraging for e.g. molluscs full of PUFA’s and Iodine within the ten meter depth range, holding our breath upwards of 1-4 minutes salvaging these foods, would be well within the reach of both ancient and extant hominins.”

    Where is the evidence that this happened?

    “Based on all the above, if other apes also started to grow a large brain based on aquaticism at a very early stage, but then left the water due to abandoning wet habitats and consequently saw stagnation in brain development, which we may be in the process of e.g. with terrestrial agriculture, this means that our own brain development and upkeep risks a similar stagnation on a global scale.”

    If, if, if. Where is the evidence for any of this?

    “There, you got your wish.”

    No, I didn’t. I asked you to lay out your idea and to DEFEND IT WITH EVIDENCE.

    You sorta laid out an argument. Much better than you’ve ever done in the past, so I guess that’s something.

    But you defended it with nothing but bald conjecture and offhand references to Cunnane, which is something that has been roundly refuted.

    “See how complex a topic it is? And I haven’t included half the pertinent details…”

    You haven’t included any pertinent details.

    “Yeah, but it doesn’t mean that nobody who is rejected will eventually turn out to be right, either.”

    Who ever said that? Of course people who are initially rejected might turn out to be right. And how will they demonstrate that they were right? Bawling about having been mistreated, or presenting sound arguments supported by evidence?

  252. #254 OHSU
    Arizona
    February 19, 2014

    “Not all disagreement is stigmatization( thats true. but i explained how you are.”

    No, you didn’t. You used the word “stigmatization” several times, and several of them were in appropriately applied.

    Not all disagreement is stigmatization. Not all criticism is stigmatization.

    “You shouldn’t need to quote me much at all. Just explain yourself.”

    This is how people talk past each other. I make specific responses to specific comments.

    “Explain yourself.”

    I explain myself clearly and succinctly. Try reading carefully.

    “Criticising Chris for the more looney ideas of the past which he does not agree with…”

    I have never done this. Never. I challenge you to find one single example of me doing this on this thread or any other.

    “Of course you could disagree on the interpretations of those past ideas. But that’s not talking to Chris about his stance on these issues.”

    Where have I ever criticized Chris for anyone else’s ideas.

    Chris cries persecution and stigmatization, because it relieves him of the burden of arguing his own ideas. It doesn’t speak well of your intelligence that you fall for this nonsense.

    You disagree with my appraisal? I challenge you to find one single example of me criticizing Chris for any ideas but ones he has endorsed.

    If you can’t find such an example, stop and think about where you stand in this debate. You’re criticizing me for something I haven’t done, and siding with someone for imaginary reasons.

    “And you said it yourself, you beleive those are words Chris needs to be embarrassed over”

    No, I didn’t. You have not read what I said carefully or tried to understand it.

    I have repeatedly told Chris he should be embarrassed for various things, but that is not one of them.

    “… even though he’s telling you he doesn’t endorse them.”

    No. That is not what Chris is saying. He is saying that Hardy and Morgan never said what it can be demonstrated that they did say. He is also saying that they didn’t mean what they clearly did mean.

    Morgan said, “I think that probably [aquatic apes] were about aquatic to the same degree as an otter. So, they would spend large amounts of time in the water but come ashore to sleep and to breed.”

    Chris isn’t saying that he disagrees with Morgan or that he doesn’t endorse Morgan. He’s saying that she meant something else by this.

    I am not criticizing him for Morgan’s views on the AAT. I’m criticizing him for pretending away what Morgan said. That is a very different matter.

    “Do you see how I’m explaining myself.”

    Yes. You’re explaining yourself badly. You’ve not tried to understand what Chris has said, and you haven’t tried to understand my responses to Chris.

    Now you’re misinterpreting my disagreement with Chris’s approach and turning it into something that only exists in your mind.

    “You are holding someone to what you believe to be the true meaning of some old texts.”

    No, I’m not. There are serious non-sectarian Biblical scholars and historians who know a hell of a lot about Biblical history. These people have some very sophisticated knowledge about ancient practices and cultures related to biblical people.

    This has nothing to do with orthodoxy and everything to do with history.

    “You can’t follow that by saying he is the one steeped with religious cognitive dissonance.”

    You can’t possibly have understood my point and follow it up with what you said above. They’re not related in any way.

    You’re just throwing words together.

    “It might be true that he has some religious sort of way about believing AAT.”

    Yes. Yes, he really does.

    “But the way you are attacking him isn’t too productive.”

    Says who? Whose definition of “productive”?

  253. #255 holy cow
    February 19, 2014

    #207
    “You’re wrong about Hardy and Morgan. You’re like a religious apologist re-interpreting the Bible because as a modern man he doesn’t like what the stone age barbarians had to say. ”

    Holding Chris accountable for what the stone age barbarians had to say.


    “Not all disagreement is stigmatization( thats true. but i explained how you are.”

    No, you didn’t. You used the word “stigmatization” several times, and several of them were in appropriately applied.

    Saying “no you didn’t” is as worthless a response as “no I didn’t. ” And I’ll say it again, I’m not taking Chris’ side. I’m telling you that the way you are attacking Chris is really unnecessary and not always based in sound logic. This isn’t the first time an exchange with you started spinning in circles. You’ve been doing this for years even though the evidence is on your side. Maybe it’s time you thought about your tactics.

  254. #256 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 19, 2014

    Ohsu, you’re asking, no, demanding that I post volumes to match Encyclopedia Britannica in blog comment format to support my case. I cannot do that. I have nowhere near the time and ressources available for that. And in the above you show an inability to actually read and interpret what I have already posted (or what AAH-proponents have already written, for that matter), so why should I bother?

    All while you illustrate double standard. “Quit making the same long posts over and over again?” While you yourself is blaring off one very, very long post after another. Can see the splinter in the eye of your brother, but not the bone in your hand? I have had similar online arguments with creationist-inclined people on evolution, and they exhibit the same behavior that you do here. The more enraged they get of one’s rational arguments, the longer rants they blurt out. As if by increasing the ammount of paragraphs, they are automatically more correct.

    I interpret this as you somehow being afraid of AAH. Probably because you can sense how it’s been gaining grounds for a good decade now. Not the irrational dolphin-ape or seal-ape version, which I’d still say has never been seriously argued by anyone, but in the quite rational beach-ape version, which you in the above have done all to make believe was never the issue.

    If you really want answers to your above questions, I can refer to the AAH-library that already exists. From Hardy and Morgan to Bender et Bender, Kuliukas, Cunnane, Broadhurst, even Verhaegen, which are all much better qualified than me in these matters. You know all these people already, but you need to let go of your hysteria before reading, if you’re to get your answers.

    I’ve personally been listening in on this debate since the mid 1990’s. I’ve witnessed a lot of hysteria in that time. And I have to say most of it by far comes from the opposition. Right now, Ohsu, you’re just another symptom of this. This response is completely disproportionate, when observing what’s being suggested, but such irrational hysteria is unfortunately all too common throughout scientific history, especially when an idea has been onto something. I still boil it all down to the same question I’ve been asking myself again and again for over a decade now: So what, if we’re old beach-apes?

  255. #257 makouli
    mpls
    February 20, 2014

    Hmmm. Still no evidence from Chris (now there’s a surprise), nor a decent argument from his chief apologist. I wonder if the sun will come up in the east tomorrow?

  256. #258 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 20, 2014

    #251 Quote: “250 comments so far! Greg has struck a deep vein of something…”

    Because it’s been a mistreated topic for half a century. For all the wrong reasons in the book.

  257. #259 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    February 20, 2014

    #257 Quote: “Still no evidence from Chris.”

    Aha. And the jury is still out on evolution, eh?

  258. #260 makouli
    mpls
    February 20, 2014

    What if I were to ~pay~ for evidence, Chris? Would that help?

  259. #261 holy cow
    February 20, 2014

    Makouli, it’s fine if you prefer to be antagonistic instead of making a point. But please don’t assign me titles. Besides, you are wrong. I’m not defending his position in any way. Nor am I standing up for his modes of argument. I am refering to what OHSU has been doing. First of all, he attacked and challenged me as an AATer even after I had clarly explained in my posts that I was simply commenting on the comparisons that can be made between brains of different species and not supporting AAT. It was not evidence. He ignored that, called me an AATer then repeatedly challenged me to support the theory. That is stigmatizing, it is cluttering the discussion with nasty rhetoric, false accusations and misrepresentations. I have had to tell hin many times that I don’t support AAT, but he only stopped addressing me as a supporter in recent posts. I think that is a clear example of stigma.

    It was just too easy to point out the other examples with Chris as well. OHSU thinks that he’s making a good point by comparing Chris to Christins who reinterpret the bible. But attacking him for not following an orthodox version of the AAT as OHSU understands to be held by Hardy and Morgan isn’t making any headway in any meaninful direction. Chris doesnt agree with those positions. And this isn’t an orthodox religion. Ideas change. And it might have been a weak example of stigma until he made it clear with the comment comparing old AAT ideas with stone age barbarians. OHSU ties Chris to an orthodox position and then attacks him for having it. That is stigma. Chris is being ridiculed for ideas he doesn’t hold. He hasn’t proposed fish-chasing seal- or otter-apes and resists that characterization of his position. But OHSU marches on “la la la.” Or, “blah blah blah.” As if slaying some dead theory is some grand accomplishment. Add to it that Chris doesn’t agree with those ideas.

    I understand the criticism OHSU is making if Chris is misunderstanding Hardy and Morgan. But attacking him for following a modernized version of the theory is a waste of time and quite pointless when there’s so much evidence to discuss. It’s also silly for OHSU to slam Chris for religiousness when he pent so much time holding him to an orthodox position so he could more conveniently attack him.

  260. #262 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 20, 2014

    If you want, you can fund experiments, that observe the general motion of simian species through shallow water.

    Build a trench with high walls and fill it with what for the individual species would be chest deep water. Place a specimen of a simian species (chimp, gorilla, orangutan, gibbon, baboon, macaque, what have you) in one end, and e.g. food in the other. Then observe how they get to the other end. Will they swim or will they wade?

    See if they really are prone to be wading bipedally on a vertical spine through water, if wading should have once caused human bipedalism as a general trend for simians in water. Make the same experiment with human children, and as a control group species that wouldn’t be expected to be bipedal in shallow water. A dog, a lion, a racoon, which ever. What for them is “chest depth” water, will they swim or will they wade?

    Would be nice to see them apes and monkeys swim there, woun’it? And horrible to see them wade, right?

  261. #263 holy cow
    February 20, 2014

    If I’m going to be critical of OHSU, I guess it’s only fair that I do as he asked and give it a try.

    Chris wouldn’t you rather fund investigations of areas that were near water at the time in order to find evidence of “human bipedalism as a general trend for simians in water”? Seeing how those guys wade might convince people to put some time and money into a look around, but it won’t change the evidence supporting mainstream ideas.

  262. #264 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 21, 2014

    Holy, as I understand some AAH-proponents, the coastal regions in question in Africa that are valid to check for fossils have no exposed layers from the relevant time periods. Also a lot of the regions that were coastlines then and which might be interesting are currently covered by sea water. Some regions just outside Africa, e.g. on the Arabian peninsula, have revealed fossils and tool finds that relates to Homo sapiens’ exodus from Africa, and at least they illustrate a trend for migrating along the Southern coasts, e.g. Yemen, which would be expected if we were aquatically enclined, rather than over land through e.g. the Levant, which would be expected if we were fully terrestrial.

  263. #265 makouli
    February 21, 2014

    “But attacking him for following a modernized version of the theory is a waste of time and quite pointless when there’s so much evidence to discuss.”

    Modernized version? So much evidence? Oh now this does sound interesting. Please proceed.

    I’m not offering to fund your “research”, Chris. I’m waving dollar bills in your face in an effort to persuade ~you~ to post some evidence. See the difference? Better hurry though, Bessy seems poised to beat you to the punch.

  264. #266 holy cow
    February 21, 2014

    Makouli, I tell you I don’t support the theory. I tell OHSU that the evidence is on his side. And what does that add up to in your head? That I believe there’s plenty of evidence to discuss in support the theory. You’re just brilliant aren’t you. You’re just too smart to be fooled and think I was referring to all the evidence against Chris. I won’t bother trying to explain to you how this can be due to stigma as well. You’ve made it clear, it’s not worth the effort.

  265. #267 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 21, 2014

    Mak, maybe you’d do better saving your money for a freediving course.

  266. #268 makouli
    February 21, 2014

    So now you’re saying that money can’t persuade you to post evidence in support of wet apery. I know that asking politely doesn’t do it, dialing up the rude doesn’t seem to help, offering to walk the dog or wash your car doesn’t hold out too much promise, what’s it gonna take, Chris?

    Marc Verhaegen and Algis Kuliukas made a virtual cottage industry out of running and hiding. I can see they aint got nothin’ on you.

    Where’s our favorite Holstein? I thought there was “..so much evidence to discuss.”?

  267. #269 holy cow
    February 21, 2014

    Newton thought God made physics happen. He had a lot of strange beliefs. But there is nothing wrong with cherry-picking and taking the goods he produced and ignoring the rest. Science does this constantly, in fact it is the norm. How many of you have spent days and nights waiting/fighting for PCR results but think Mullis is a little more than out there? He was abducted by aliens, doubts a lot of mainstream science, thinks there’s some truth to astrology. He received a Nobel Prize. Coming up with the PCR was brilliant. Nothing wrong with that idea.

    But here, it’s used to attack Chris. He doesn’t agree with everything stated by Hardy amd Morgan or perhaps the interpretation of OHSU, but OHSU drags this on for 200+ comments, probably in the tens of thousands now if you consider the years he’s been doing this, because Chris disagrees with “as aquatic as seals.”. It’s meaningless.

    I just asked Chris about hard evidence. He responded on topic. Feel free to take it from there OHSU. Or Makouli?

  268. #270 holy cow
    February 21, 2014

    Makouli, read my response to you @261 again and stop misrepresenting me. You are taking that quote backwards.

  269. #271 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 21, 2014

    Holy, I think you’re a little better familiar with the concept of Internet trolling now. These responses aren’t really about science.

  270. #272 holy cow
    February 21, 2014

    I’m trying to figure it out.

    A) sadists
    B) paid for driving up traffic
    C) just really zealous lovers of everything sciencey and they just can’t contain themselves and would just love to bite right into a real life pseudoscience in the wild
    D) this is a trick and they are trying to get me to call them poop heads and then they’ll make some attempt at comparing that persecution to what pseudoscience cottages complain about even though it isn’t relevant to the types o f misrepresentations happening here
    D) masochists?

  271. #273 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    February 22, 2014

    Holy, let me give you an example on where I’m coming from. This has been claimed by Marc Verhaegen on this very blog:
    “An extensive overview of the literature by Stephen Munro showed that virtually all known archaic Homo [= pre-Homo sapien] sites (including those in ‘savanna’) were associated with permanent water and edible shellfish.”
    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/01/30/common-misconceptions-and-unproven-assumptions-about-the-aquatic-ape-theory/

    Is there any validity to this claim? Sometimes things sound too good to be true. Come on, I need someone other than the trolls’ angle on this.

  272. #274 Stephen Munro
    February 23, 2014

    Hi Chris, more than 200 posts ago on this thread, Greg Laden wrote:

    “If a given part of the AAT isn’t held down and a screwdriver driven through its brain every time the entire thing comes up, that one idea gets resurrected as a “yeah, but” argument.”

    It’s funny, but this is precisely how I feel about this ‘argument’ that the location of human fossil ancestors somehow contradicts the waterside model. It’s often said, for example, that “if the AAT were correct we would expect ancestral fossils to be found in areas where they could swim and dive, but instead they are found in woodland and grasslands.”

    My research (for my doctorate thesis), showed, in fact, that all ‘erectine grade’ fossil sites and (suspected) archaeological remains, were, savanna or not, found in areas where at the time there is evidence for permanent water and invariably these sites are either coastal (Mojokerto, Java, for example) or in drainage systems which had a direct connection with the coast. Turkana Basin, for example, at about the time that the genus Homo first shows up, was also home to a stingray, which according to researchers such as Feibel, Joordens et al, reached the basin via a link with the Indian Ocean (probably an ancient river).

    A number of times I have asked people to please provide specific examples of sites that contradict the littoral dispersal model (basically the idea that the genus Homo dispersed via coasts to Java, the Mediterranean, China, Flores etc. moving up rivers to inhabit inland drainage areas, including savannas), but so far nobody has provided a single contradictory site. Dmanisi, as Greg noted earlier in this thread, has no published aquatic fauna associated with it, but as Greg also noted the experts there agree it was a large permanent water body that at one time was a river, and published reports describe it as ‘rich in lacustrine resources’.

    Practically every other ‘erectine grade’ (long, low braincase, heavy bones, wide hips, short legs) site I’m aware of has some sort of permanent water body as indicated by the faunal associations, whether it be fish, hippos, crocodiles, bivalves or aquatic snails, and most of the identified butchered fauna associated with archaic Homo appear to be water loving species, including hippos, crocodiles, waterbucks and even a whale on the west coast of Africa. Meanwhile we know fish and other aquatic resources were exploited as early as about 2 million years ago, but nobody denies aquatic resources were consumed by early human populations these days, what they deny is that being in the water had any influence on the evolution of the human body form. Fair enough, but I’ve not seen any good arguments why water could not have played an important role.

    Now, as I’ve discussed with Greg before, this strong association of ‘erectine grade’ fossils with permanent water does not prove the littoral dispersal (or part-time underwater foraging) model, but nor does it contradict it.

    So next time someone says the AAT must be wrong because the relevant fossils or archaeological deposits aren’t found near suitable watery habitats, ask them to please provide a specific site example related to archaic Homo. If they can’t come up with one, I think you can safely ignore this is an objection and move onto more important matters, like, for example, what are the alternative models that explain the combination of nakedness, subcutaneous fat, external nose, large brain, enhanced breath control abilities, linear build, etc., in humans, better than the waterside model? How does mainstream anthropology, for example, account for this combination of features?

    Note that I’m not claiming that all ‘hominid’ fossils are found with evidence of permanent water. Sterkfontein 4 and Laetoli (Australopithecus), for example, though probably well forested, don’t appear to have any signs of permanent water when the associated fauna are considered.

    While this may well be a problem for Morgan’s model and possibly other versions of the AAT, it has no primary relevance to the littoral dispersal (or part-time underwater foraging) model espoused by Verhaegen, which places the most aquatic phase (still very much part-time and therefore including a substantial terrestrial component), in the Pleistocene, and to do with archaic Homo species such as ergaster, erectus and heidelbergensis, (‘erectine grade’) as opposed to species of an ‘australopithecine grade’ .

    Please also note that the littoral dispersal (or underwater foraging) model, does not preclude bipedal terrestrialism (whether walking or running), or the gathering, scavenging or hunting of terrestrial resources.

    My thesis hasn’t been published, but some of the palaeoecological data gathered are described in the following articles.

    Econiche of the genus Homo (with Verhaegen, Vaneechoutte, Bender and Bender-Oser

    ‘Pachyosteosclerosis in Archaic Homo: heavy skulls for diving, heavy legs for wading? (with Verhaegen)

    Munro, S. (2013) Endurance Running versus Underwater Foraging: an anatomical and palaeoecological perspective. Human Evolution

  273. #275 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    February 26, 2014

    I fully endorse Stephen’s view: our “coastal dispersal model” (or the “littoral theory” of human evolution) has nothing to do with australopiths, it’s about Pleistocene archaic Homo: intercontinental dispersal, pachyosteosclerosis, platycephaly, platymeria (femora), ear exostoses, projecting nostrils, flaring ilia, etc. If it hadn’t been a human relative or ancestor, no marine biologist had doubted that archaic Homo was a typically littoral mammal (i.e. at least parttime slow & shallow divers for sessile foods such as shellfish or seaweeds). It’s only a pre-darwinistic anthropocentrism that makes many paleo-anthropologists & popular accounts of human evolution believe that our Pleistocene ancestors ran over open plains (after kudus?), instead of simply following coast & rivers. We showed that the ideas that erectus or their relatives ran over open plains (e.g. the now popular “endurance running” ideas) are a fantasy grounded in anthropocentrism, google “econiche Homo” table 4: every Pleistocene Homo trait that is believed to have evolved “for” running (e.g. plantigrady!) is more easily explained by branch-hanging, underwater swimming &/or vertical wading. Our hypothesis that early-Pleistocene Homo populations adapted to (parttime) shellfish collection on the continental shelves (cf. lower sea-levels) is beautifully confirmed by the fossil & archeological record of Pleistocene Homo at coastal sites from Mojokerto in Indonesia to Dungo V in Angola to Happisburgh in England. It’s difficult to understand that there are still “scientists” who believe that archaic Homo walked or ran over the plains to Java, Flores, Angola & England.

  274. #276 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 1, 2014

    And deafining silence after that. What am I supposed to think here? Two proponents present a really strong argument in this debate, and there’s no rebuttal. Are they wrong or are they right on their claim? Is it poorly weighed? If so, why???

    Either AAH (in the _actual_ forms, that have been presented) is indeed nuts and a total waste of scientific enquiry. In such case, aparently I can’t see why it is. But then this silence is just really, really odd. Nobody is this silent against ideas like somehow Darwin was flat out wrong, or that Leonardo da Vinci left secret messages about the family of Jesus of Nazareth in his art works, or what ever ideas we can agree is bollocks and a waste of time.

    Or, AAH is indeed onto something and therefore one of the most important scientific ideas of our time, but the academic establishment is stuck in the embarassment of not picking up on it in time. Then the silence is a thousand times worse. Then sticking your heads in the bush just adds to the embarassment. Then academia is not doing its job on behalf of humanity. Who cares, if an amateur for once had a point?

    I’m gonna revert to quoting people again. This one is by Dan Dennett:
    “When I have found myself in the company of distinguished biologists, evolutionary theorists, paleo-anthropologists, and other experts, I have often asked them just to tell me, please, exactly why Elaine Morgan must be wrong about the aquatic ape theory. I haven’t yet had a reply worth mentioning, aside from those who admit, with a twinkle in their eyes, that they have often wondered the same thing.”

    Please tell me, why I shouldn’t gloat, when anthropology finally accept that the continents move on this topic, if you are still this pigheaded???

  275. #277 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    March 2, 2014

    :-) Thanks a lot, Chris.
    Wiki = hindrance to scientific progress.
    It’s very difficult to understand why a theory that says that human ancestors collected shallow aquatic & waterside foods followed coasts & rivers when they during the Ice Ages trekked as far as Indonesia, Angola & England (Pleistocene coastal sites of Mojokerto, Dungo V & Happisburgh resp.) is not yet generally accepted by the (I guess intelligent) “experts”.
    I see 1 important major reason (apart from paleo-anthropological prejudices & conservatism, being indignated & refusing to be informed).
    When I hear something new to me, and want to know more about it, I often go to Wikipedia, and often this beautiful instrument can help me a lot.
    But the Wiki page on AAH is hopelessly outdated. When we ask them to refer to the abundant new papers on the littoral theory instead of referring to the 1970s & 1980s, they simply neglect & boycott any updating, removing all our changes. In the case of AAH, Wiki hinders science, instead of promoting science.
    Wiki says (some of my comments between brackets –mv):
    “The aquatic ape hypothesis is a proposal that the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans spent a period of time adapting to a semiaquatic existence. The hypothesis was first proposed by German pathologist Max Westenhöfer in 1942, and then independently by English marine biologist Alister Hardy in 1960. After Hardy, the most prominent proponent was Welsh writer Elaine Morgan, who wrote a series of books on the topic.(so far ok, but then… –mv) Extant scientific consensus (sic! lie or self-deceit? –mv) is that humans first evolved during a period of rapid climate fluctuation between wet and dry, and that most of the adaptations that distinguish humans from the great apes are adaptations to a terrestrial, as opposed to an earlier, arboreal environment.(sic! but baboons that go from forest to savanna show adaptations opposite to humans –mv) Few paleoanthropologists have explicitly evaluated AAH in scientific journals, and those that have reviewed the idea have been critical.(was prof.Tobias no PA?? google “Phillip Tobias Bender” –mv) The AAH is one of many hypotheses attempting to explain human evolution through a single causal mechanism,(nonsense: AAH combines arboreal, semi-aquatic & terrestrial adaptations, whereas the “old” PAs only accept arboreal & terrestrial –mv) but the evolutionary fossil record does not support any such proposal.(ridiculous: Mojokerto, Dungo V, Happisburgh = coast, see above, and the comparative evidence is even clearer –mv) The proposal itself has been criticized by experts (sic: but uninformed outdated “experts” –mv) as being internally inconsistent, having less explanatory power than its proponents claim,(nonsense, eg, google “misconceptions Verhaegen” –mv) and suffering from the feature that alternative terrestrial hypotheses are much better supported.(:-D such as running vertically at noon after kudus to minimise solar radation, and similar terrestrial “hypotheses” –mv) The attractiveness of believing in simplistic single-cause explanations (eg, savanna running… –mv) over the much more complex, but better-supported models with multiple causality (eg, google “econiche Homo” table 4) has been cited as a primary reason for the popularity of the idea with non-experts.”
    As long as we see such incredibly prejudiced unscientific nonsense at Wiki, it’s difficult for the lay person to inform properly.
    Why don’t they even refer to the recent symposium on human waterside evolution?
    ‘Human Evolution: Past, Present & Future’ (London 8-10 May 2013, with David Attenborough & Don Johanson). The proceedings are now being published by Human Evolution in 2 special editions:
    Special Edition Part 1 (end 2013)
    – Peter Rhys-Evans: Introduction
    – Stephen Oppenheimer: Human’s Association with Water Bodies: the ‘Exaggerated Diving Reflex’ and its Relationship with the Evolutionary Allometry of Human Pelvic and Brain Sizes
    – JH Langdon: Human Ecological Breadth: Why Neither Savanna nor Aquatic Hypotheses can Hold Water
    – Stephen Munro: Endurance Running versus Underwater Foraging: an Anatomical and Palaeoecological Perspective
    – Algis Kuliukas: Wading Hypotheses of the Origin of Human Bipedalism
    – Marc Verhaegen: The Aquatic Ape Evolves: Common Misconceptions and Unproven Assumptions about the So-Called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
    – CL Broadhurst & Michael Crawford: The Epigenetic Emergence of Culture at the Coastline: Interaction of Genes, Nutrition, Environment and Demography
    Special Edition Part 2 (begin 2014) with 12 contributions.
    Anybody who hasn’t read these papers (or at least the abstracts) has no scientific right any more to say something on AAH. For serious info on AAH (instead ofthe Wiki nonsense, google, eg,
    – econiche Homo
    – aquarboreal
    – Laden misconceptions Verhaegen
    – Rhys Evans Vaneechoutte
    marc verhaegen tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/AAT

  276. #278 OHSU
    March 3, 2014

    “And deafining silence after that. What am I supposed to think here?”

    Your supposed to think that this thread is so boring that it has no lurkers and the one or two people who were bothering to post here got bored and found something else to do.

    That you think this thread is important enough that the silence actually has meaning is laughable. It’s silent because it’s too stupid for virtually anyone on the planet to bother with. Even I, as obsessed as you believe I am, don’t give two shits about your lot or your loony ideas most of the time.

    Someone else alerted me that there was something more posted here than your incessant sniveling, and he suggested I return. I’ll read the posts and respond when I feel like it.

  277. #279 holy cow
    March 13, 2014

    That was pretty disappointing.

  278. #280 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 14, 2014

    It’s an all too common response in this debate, or lack of one. Faced with a mountain of compelling argumentation nay-sayers don’t want to hear, they just act as if they didn’t.

    To quote Elaine Morgan, which I have to say I’m viewing as our modern day version of Galileo:
    “Thomas S. Kuhn wrote a seminal treatise about this back in 1962. He said what scientists do when a paradigm fails is, guess what — they carry on as if nothing had happened.” Unquote.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not being presented with anything to convince me, that it’s folly to support AAH.

  279. #281 Greg Laden
    March 14, 2014

    Mace, I think you must know exactly why.

  280. #282 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    March 15, 2014

    Aquatic Ape, of course, is a misleading term for people who think they should give their opinion without first informing properly:
    -AAT has nothing to do directly with “apes”, australopiths, Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus etc.: AAT is about our ancestors & all other archaic Homo during the Ice Ages,
    -AAT is about how early-middle-Pleistocene archaic Homo followed the coasts & estuaria (from where they then ventured inland along the rivers), i.e. not 6 or 7 Ma as Elaine thought at the time, but less than 2.6 Ma.
    The coastal archeological sites as far as Mojokerto in Indonesia, Dungo V in Angola, Happisburgh in England etc.etc. leave no other possibility: it’s ridiculous to believe that Pleistocene Homo reached Mojokerto, Dungo V, Happisburgh or the island of Flores >18 km overseas, running or even walking over open plains.
    The still popular “endurance running” fantasies of H.erectus are only “supported” by just-so interpretations of illogical “scientists” (a few humans today sometimes run kudus to exhaustion,therefore all our Pleistocene ancestors ran after kudus): google “econiche Homo” table 4.
    Unfortunately, the Wiki information on AAT is hopelessly outdated & biased. Wiki still talks about the Valkenburg conference 27 years ago, instead of referring to recent publications on AAT, eg, our eBook in 2011 & 2 special editions of Hum.Evol.2013-14.
    Google, eg,
    -econiche Homo,
    -Rhys Evans Vaneechoutte,
    -unproven assumptions Verhaegen,
    -pachyosteosclerosis Homo.
    All evidence (fossil, archeological, paleo-environmental, malacological, comparative, anatomical, physiological…) points into the same direction:
    Pleistocene Homo was semi-aquatic, feeding on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud.

  281. #283 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “-AAT has nothing to do directly with “apes”, australopiths, Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus etc”

    The Aquatic Ape theory has nothing to do with australopiths?

  282. #284 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “AAT is about how early-middle-Pleistocene archaic Homo”

    Could you be more specific? Pleistocen starts (depending) before the earliest Homo fossils. So you include habilines? I.e. are you grouping together habilines and neanderthals and all in between or referring to a subset?

  283. #285 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “The still popular “endurance running” fantasies of H.erectus are only “supported” by just-so interpretations of illogical “scientists” (a few humans today sometimes run kudus to exhaustion,therefore all our Pleistocene ancestors ran after kudus): google “econiche Homo” table 4.”

    Are you proposing that there are specific physical trait that are better explained by aquatic adaptations than the running hypothesis, or are you just annoyed by the running hypothesis. In other words, why can’t they both be true, or is the running hypothesis somehow problematic for that AAT. If so, what specific traits (not behaviors or adaptations, but traits on fossils) are you incorporating in AAT and saying that they are not part of the running hypothesis?

  284. #286 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “feeding on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud.”

    So one could rephrase your statement this way, right?

    Homo, from the earliest pre-erectus grade through later middle or early-late pleistocene archaic homo sapiens feed primarily on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud. Other sources of food were incidental. They did not occupy habitats where these resources were not sufficiently available all year round that these would be the primary diet.

  285. #287 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    The running hypothesis is BS, Greg. It’s incredible that Nature places “Born to run” in its cover: every feature the authors use in support of their running prejudices can much more easily be explained by climbing vertically, wading bipedally or diving in shallow water, just have a look at google “econiche Homo” table 4.
    Humans run maximally 36 km/hr, much slower than cursorial tetrapods (who BTW are invariably digiti- or unguligrade), slower even than knuckle-walking chimps. Regular running evolved ‘recently’ in a few inland populations (see maps of human population densities), not *thanks to*, but *in spite of* our inherited plantigrade feet & broad build (as in semi-aquatic mammals), abundant thermo-active sweating (as in furseals on land) & the burden of extra subcutaneous fat tissues (~14 kg). Of course, in a few inland populations in Africa today, endurance-running by adult men after ungulates sometimes provides a limited part of the calories, but this ‘dogged pursuit’ could only have become possible after a number of anatomcial & cultural innovations had been developed (water bags, shoes, weapons, poisons, tracking skills…), it’s is a recent & derived behaviour in a very few E.African populations (Tucker cs 2013). Quadrupedal chimps chase colobus monkeys & eat them raw, but archaic Homo with their heavy & brittle bones (pachyostosis), very broad pelvis & flaring ilia, shorter tibias & plantigrade feet were much too slow on land.
    Please have a good look at google “econiche Homo” table 4.

  286. #288 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    March 15, 2014

    The so-called “habilis” fossils show different mosaics of australopith-like (=primitive or reversed) & Homo- or Pan-like (=derived) traits.
    -Some “habilis” were perhaps (ex)aquarboreal gracile australopiths? eg, OH-62 probably had rel.very long arms, longer than Lucy’s: evolving more branch-hanging?
    -Some “habilis” may have been ex-littoral, early inland members of the genus Homo, who had followed the rivers inland?
    Whatever, they’re completely in accordance to “coastal dispersal”.
    For ape evolution, google “aquarboreal”.

  287. #289 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    OK, so regarding running the AAT does not offer an alternative. You just have objections to the running hypothesis.

  288. #290 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    OK, so you are saying that habilines (or some of them, it certainly is a mosaic group if it is a group) descend from previously aquatic (by your definition) hominids. Are there examples of those pre-habilis hominids? Or am I misunderstanding “ex-littoral”?

    That still does not address my question though, hoping to see it in an upcoming comment.

  289. #291 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    Greg, I see no reason to rephrase what I said, just read it carefully in a comparative biological way without the usual anthropocentric prejudices: what is true for animals is also true for human relatives.
    Just 1 example: Pachyostotic skulls are only seen in shallow-diving tetrapods, there’s no reason (apart from just-so “arguments”) why pachyostotic erectus fossils must be an exception.
    In fact, the paleo-environmental evidence completely confirms this: all thick-boned archaic fossils are found in association with edible, sometimes even (in spite of tectonic biases) marine, shellfish, see the malacological work of Stephen Munro, eg, google “econiche Homo”: Palaeoecological evidence.
    Moreover, all other archaic characteristics (platycephaly, short toes, full plantigrady, brain expansion, intercontinental diaspora, projecting nostrils, platymeria etc.) point independently into the same direction: Pleistocene Homo were typical semi-aquatic animals who lived along coasts (mostly estuaria?) & rivers.
    If PAs hadn’t been anthropocentric (sapiens walks on land today), no paleontologist had doubted that archaic fossils belonged to semi-aquatic animals. But because humans walk on land, erectus’ heavy skull bones are not explained by (at least parttime) shallow-diving (as in all other tetrapods with pachyosteosclerotic crania & postcrania), but were “explained” by banging each other on the head… :-DDD although thick skulls are more brittle (too much calcium, as in the human disease osteopetrosis) and although flat roofs are architectonically less stable that arches.
    It’s obvious: Pleistocene Homo dispersed along coasts & rivers, obtaining most foods from the water & immediate waterside.
    Seals spend a lot of time on land (leopard-seals sometimes even catch penguins on land), but that doesn’t mean that seals are land animals.
    Whatever time our different Pleistocene Homo relatives & ancestors spent on land or in the water, it’s ridiculous to believe they endurance-ran after antelopes or so, google “econiche Homo” table 4.

  290. #292 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    Again, for the Xth time:
    -AAT has obviously nothing directly to do with australopiths (fossil relatives of Pan-Homo-Gorilla), who (at least the small ones) had curved phalanges (branch-hanging or at least vertical climbing), and who lived in swamp forests, wetlands etc., but, as opposed to, eg, Homo in Java, never in association with marine shellfish.
    -AAT is about archaic Homo: pachyosteosclerosis, long flat skulls, dramatic brain size increase, dorso-ventrally flattened femora, very short toes, intercontinental dispersal, island colonisation, external nose, association with edible shellfish, coastal sites of Mojokerto, Happisburgh, Dungo V etc.: all these point to coastal dispersal, and contradict the endurance running fantasies.

  291. #293 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “Greg, I see no reason to rephrase what I said, just read it carefully in a comparative biological way without the usual anthropocentric prejudices: what is true for animals is also true for human relatives.”

    Marc, I rephrased as a way of saying it back to you in order to confirm that I understood your original statement. I had a reason to rephrase. That is my reason. Do not lecture me about biases. Simply tell me if I rephrased it in a way that retains your meaning, does not add additional meaning, etc. This is not hard.

    Another question: How does this “Homo, from the earliest pre-erectus grade through later middle or early-late pleistocene archaic homo sapiens feed primarily on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud. ” (I’ll use my rephrasing) relate to long distance water crossing?

  292. #294 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “Again, for the Xth time:
    -AAT has obviously nothing directly to do with australopiths (fossil relatives of Pan-Homo-Gorilla), who (at least the small ones) had curved phalanges (branch-hanging or at least vertical climbing), and who lived in swamp forests, wetlands etc., but, as opposed to, eg, Homo in Java, never in association with marine shellfish.
    -AAT is about archaic Homo: pachyosteosclerosis, long flat skulls, dramatic brain size increase, dorso-ventrally flattened femora, very short toes, intercontinental dispersal, island colonisation, external nose, association with edible shellfish, coastal sites of Mojokerto, Happisburgh, Dungo V etc.: all these point to coastal dispersal, and contradict the endurance running fantasies.”

    OK, let me rephrase the question. Mosaic early hominids, the ones that have some of the traits you refer to but that pre-date archaic homo, are NOT PART OF THIS at all, and you are making no claims whatsoever about them. Homo-like hands or feet found in earlier non-homo forms are an independant convergence unrelated to the AAT.

    OR,

    Early occurrences of these traits, the traits you mention and link to AAT, are evidence of early examples of some kind of AAT adaptation occurring at some level.

    Are you saying one of these two? At the moment it seems you are leaning towards the first one.

  293. #295 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 15, 2014

    I think that when Marc is mentioning “econiche Homo” and table 4, he means this document:
    http://users.ugent.be/~mvaneech/Verhaegen%20et%20al.%202007.%20Econiche%20of%20Homo.pdf

    Marc, you’re saying “AAT has obviously nothing directly to do with australopiths (fossil relatives of Pan-Homo-Gorilla)”.
    That statement make me come to a screetching halt. Do you mean, that australopiths would be ancestors to both humans, gorillas and chimps? ‘Cause right now, I can’t agree with that. I do have my own doubts as to current classification of australopiths and other subtribes currently labeled hominins (e.g. paranthropines with that ridge down the skull would lent them proto female gorillas before humans, I think), but as I understand the consensus, the last australopiths died out 1.7mya, and the molecular clock consensus currently place the split between Homo and Pan to 5-7mya. The molecular clock has its own set of issues, yes, but from 5-7 to 1.7 would be a really big margin of error, not even including Gorilla, so all else considered, I don’t find it likely that Homo-Pan-Gorilla should have split as late as that. I don’t rule out that (at least some) australopiths may be miscategorized e.g. proto-chimps. But then the question is where the possible Homo ancestors are in the current fossil archive, if not australopiths? (But then again, Pan and Gorilla ancestors are currently non-existent in it, which is why you could wonder, if some of the specimens have been miscategorized as hominins.)

    Also, you postulate swamp-living australopiths. Wouldn’t that be included into AAT? And ditto to water-influenced hominoids in earlier settings? Morotopithecus 20mya, Anoiapithecus 12mya in Tethys rainforests, other Dryopithecus descendants? Or would those be in the “waterside” department? I’m confused as to the semantics sometimes.

  294. #296 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    Also, to be clear, the current version of the AAT is NOT about the ape human split?

    Right?

  295. #297 Makouli
    March 15, 2014

    Interesting that the often mentioned but never-linked-to “table four” (thanks Chris) should be so replete with mentions of the word “NUL”, eh Marco? Oh, and any movement on the a’pith menu items yet? I’m chiding Marco about an old usenet discussion when Australopithecus ~was~ a part of the discussion. I guess a whole lot of water has gone under the bridge since those days. Ah, those were good times –must have been well over ten years ago now.

  296. #298 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 15, 2014

    People are allowed to change their opinion pending new data. Aparently, Tobias and Attenborough did. Maybe, perhaps, I don’t know.

  297. #299 UillF
    March 15, 2014

    MV
    #282

    “Aquatic Ape, of course, is a misleading term for people who think they should give their opinion without first informing properly:
    -AAT has nothing to do directly with “apes”, australopiths, Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus etc.:
    AAT is about our ancestors & all other archaic Homo during the Ice Ages,
    -AAT is about how early-middle-Pleistocene archaic Homo followed the coasts & estuaria
    (from where they then ventured inland along the rivers), i.e. not 6 or 7 Ma as Elaine
    thought at the time, but less than 2.6 Ma… ”

    Does this pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, about coastal migration during “ice-ages” take
    into account the average ocean temperature during those periods of glaciations?

    An the fact that the human body loses heat (body heat) far quicker in water, more so in
    cold water?

  298. #300 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 15, 2014

    Then why do people take seaside holidays?

  299. #301 Makouli
    March 15, 2014

    Gosh I don’t know, Chris, why ~do~ people take seaside holidays? Do you suppose it’s to satisfy some ancient, long buried racial memory of a time when we all cavorted in vast offshore colonies and found good use for our flipper feet and snorkel noses? That fella Hausser sure was a genius, eh Marco?

    Just upstream (cough), Mr. Munro claims that the AAT isn’t all that bad, it’s just a story about the ~littoral dispersal~ of humans around the globe. Oh, and orthodoxy doesn’t explain “.. nakedness, subcutaneous fat, external nose, large brain, enhanced breath control abilities, linear build, etc., in humans,..” The inference of course is that the AAT explains these things better –without ever mentioning how.

    10 points to those playing along for the first one to name that logical fallacy.

  300. #302 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 15, 2014
  301. #303 Makouli
    March 15, 2014

    What’s ~enough said~, Chris? Who is explaining what to whom? ‘Somebody call you on your DHA stuff again? Who will be the first AAT proponent to present incontrovertible evidence in support of your, um, hypothesis? Will it be you? Chris?

  302. #304 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    #296 “Also, to be clear, the current version of the AAT is NOT about the ape human split?”

    At the time of the split (c 5 Ma?) chimp ancestors & human ancestors were identical, so AAT is not about the Homo/Pan split. AAT is about the differences between between humans & chimps-bonobos. These differences appeared at some time after the split (i.e. in the last c 5 Ma, some differences perhaps early, others perhaps late). Apparently, many differences with Pan, suggesting littoral adaptations, had appeared in the fossil record c 1.8 Ma: external nose, pachyostosis, flat skulls, flat femora, very large brain, coastal fossil & archeological sites, association with marine shells, intercontinental dispersal, etc.

    Again: AAT has nothing to do with australopiths or apes, it’s about the time when Homo populations was spreading along the coass & rivers. Homo modjokertensis c 1.8 Ma lay amid barnacles & edible shellfish, it would be very surprising if these tool-users didn’t eat this shellfish (rich in brain-specific nutrients such as DHA).

  303. #305 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    In response to #295

    Chris, the idea that some australopithecines might have been closer phylogenetically to African apes than to humans, is based on the fact that morphologically they are similar to apes, more so in many ways than to humans. This morphological similarity would normally lead people to place the apes and australopithecines together in an evolutionary sense, with Homo outside this clade (most scientists when it was discovered thought the skull Dart discovered at Taung (Australopithecus africanus) was a chimp!). It, like other australopithecines has some features which are more ‘human-like’ than ape-like’, but these could easily have been ‘primitive’ traits shared by the human-ape LCA. It seems clear now that bipedalism is more ancient than most people considered, and it is mainly these traits that led people to place australopithecines with Homo as opposed to Pan or Gorilla (phylogenetically).

    Yes, if they turn out to be apes instead of humans, we are suddenly missing a whole lot of Pliocene human fossils (until the Pleistocene), but if human ancestors at the time were living in coastal forests perhaps it’s not surprising we don’t have many from this time (are you aware of coastal forest fossil sites from this period?). The situation now in mainstream anthropology is that we don’t have any Pan or Gorilla fossils, so the same argument applies both ways.

    That’s not to say humans never had australopith-like ancestors, but regardless, australopiths don’t have features that suggest regular, shallow water diving for shellfish, like the large brain, external nose, streamlined body with head, spine and legs in one line, pachyosteosclerosis, regular stone tool use, and therefore the AAT (as we see it) does not strictly apply to them.

    The aquarboreal model, on the other hand, in which human and ape ancestors acquired certain features like tail loss, orthograde posture (often seen as bipedalism), more mobile shoulders, larger and broader body etc., as a result of inhabiting forests that were regularly flooded (aqua=water and arbor=trees), is, on the other hand, of great relevance to australopithecines.

    I hope this helps you see what we’re trying to argue.

  304. #306 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    #295 “you postulate swamp-living australopiths”

    I don’t, researchers do. Lucy was found amid crab claws & crocodile eggs, the AL-333 afarensis specimens were found in “swales”, A.aethopicus is found in swamp forests, A.boisei in papyrus swamps, Reed (1977): Pliocene australopiths “existed in fairly wooded, well-watered regions” & Pleistocene robust australopiths “in similar environs and also in more open regions, but always in habitats that include wetlands” (only the very fragmentary Laetoli afarensis was not waterside, but leopards drag their prey away from the water to higher places).
    Australopiths might have been (parttime) surface-feeders: lowland gorillas still spend a few hours per day in the swamp (bai), feeding on AHV (aquatic herbaceous vegetation).

    But surface-feeding is +-the opposite of littoral diving (AAT s.s.), as seen in most archaic Homo specimens & all tetrapods with pachyostotic skulls & postcrania. This is what makes Homo different from the rest (apes, australopiths & earlier hominoids): head-spine-legs in 1 (stream)line, heavy bones for diving, projecting nostrils, flat femora & flat skulls as in semi-aquatic mammals, the coastal sites of Boxgrove, Happisburgh, Gibraltar, Dungo V, the Cape, Eritrea, Mojokerto, the island of Flores etc.
    Everything is there, but only anthropocentrism (humans today walk on land) prevents us from seeing that.

  305. #307 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    Hi Greg, thanks for the questions, which I’ll try to deal with one at a time (on behalf of Marc and myself):

    In #289 you wrote:

    “OK, so regarding running the AAT does not offer an alternative. You just have objections to the running hypothesis.”

    Yes and no. Yes, we have objections to the running hypothesis, but no, we don’t see the AAT as offering no alternative! To the contrary, we see it as offering a perfectly logical alternative.

    The question we are all interested in here is why are humans different to other apes? We say that at the beginning of the Pleistocene the genus Homo began foraging in relatively shallow waters for foods such as shellfish, and as a result (natural selection), they became more streamlined (head, legs, spine in one line), developed better breath holding abilities (pre-requisite for speech), bigger brains (shellfish = omega 3), an external nose (to keep water out), tool use (to open hard-shelled foods) and less fur and more subcutaneous fat (the combination of which is only seen in animals that spend a lot of time in the water). This doesn’t, by the way, preclude terrestrial gathering, scavenging, hunting or bipedal locomotion.

    The only ‘alternative’ to this, as far we can see, is the endurance running model (which is backed by no comparative or any other data). But this endurance running model is clearly not relevant for early Homo species such as Homo erectus.

    I have to say, however, that having said that, I do admire Lieberman for at least trying to provide a Darwinian solution to the problem of why Homo erectus diverged from earlier apes. His ‘answer’, that Homo erectus was a supreme endurance runner, is clearly wrong, because Homo erectus had extraordinarily heavy bones, a wider pelvis than would be expected for an endurance runner, short legs, and a poise of the head that would have been totally unsuited to long distance running (to name just a few traits), but at least it is based on natural selection, unlike the ‘it was all just pure luck’ ideas that are becoming increasingly popular these days (and which must be providing creationists with much comfort and joy).

    When I mentioned (or critisised) the ‘endurance running’ model at the ‘London Conference’ attended by David Attenborough in May 2013, Don Johanson, who discovered ‘Lucy’ (Australopithecus afarensis), accused me of creating a ‘straw horse’, because, according to him, it was ridiculous to think that ancestral humans could have been endurance runners. My friend (and critic of the AAT), John Langdon, also accused Elaine Morgan of creating a ‘straw man’ by ‘inventing’ the ‘savanna model’.

    I can assure you, Greg, and your readers, Marc and I would be happy if we never had to mention the ‘savanna’ or ‘endurance running’ models ever again, but it’s not us who keeps putting these forward as ‘alternatives’ to the waterside model.

    One more thing. Greg, I asked you more than 200 posts ago what your preferred model for human evolution was. You said there wasn’t one.

    I ask again, if you could choose one model (as Marc and I have), to explain why humans differ so much from other apes, what would it be? Do you have one preferred model, or several, or none?

  306. #308 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    # 283

    Greg, you wrote:

    “-AAT has nothing to do directly with “apes”, australopiths, Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus etc”

    The Aquatic Ape theory has nothing to do with australopiths?

    Yes, the AAT (or what we like to call the littoral dispersal model, in which humans dispersed around coasts and up rivers and gained part of their sustenance through part-time, shallow underwater foraging) is not about australopiths, which have no ‘underwater foraging’ characteristics, and don’t appear to have dispersed to other continents.

    The aquarboreal model is relevant to the australopiths (as it is all hominoids) but the AAT (at least the way we see it, and we differ fundamentally from Elaine here) is about, ‘erectine grade’ hominins (such as Homo erectus), which had low, long brain cases (remarkably stream-lined), external nose, large brains, aligned and larger bodies, heavy bones, all consistent with underwater foraging.

  307. #309 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    #284

    Greg wrote:

    “AAT is about how early-middle-Pleistocene archaic Homo”

    Could you be more specific? Pleistocene starts (depending) before the earliest Homo fossils. So you include habilines? I.e. are you grouping together habilines and neanderthals and all in between or referring to a subset?

    ‘Erectine grade’ would not include those fossils grouped in with the ‘habilines’. These fossils (habilines), as far as we can tell, are closer to Homo than Pan and Gorilla, but my guess is that they retained some sort of arboreal component to their lifestyle, and therefore have not gone through the transition that erectine grade populations have. Possibly they foraged part-time in and maybe even under water, but due to arborealism, they were restrained from developing the features we see in e.g. Homo erectus, which certainly seems to have left the trees. As far as I know, habilines are found in the Turkana Basin, which was at the time connected by a river to the Indian Ocean. They could have moved from littoral forests via gallery forests to the forests that no doubt existed around the Turkana Basin.

    Interesting fossils but not directly relevant to the ‘underwater foraging’ stage of ‘erectine grade’ fossils we are putting forward.

  308. #310 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    #285

    Greg wrote:

    Are you proposing that there are specific physical traits that are better explained by aquatic adaptations than the running hypothesis, or are you just annoyed by the running hypothesis. In other words, why can’t they both be true, or is the running hypothesis somehow problematic for that AAT. If so, what specific traits (not behaviors or adaptations, but traits on fossils) are you incorporating in AAT and saying that they are not part of the running hypothesis?

    Extraordinarily heavy bones (much heavier than in gorillas) for a start, but also the fact that Homo erectus had longer and more horizontal femoral necks, shorter legs, wider pelvis, flattened femur lacking pilasters, an unusual poise to the head (less basicranial flexion), long low brain case, and differences in the vertebral canal and the shape of the thorax that have led some people to question how efficient these creatures were as terrestrial bipeds.

    The idea that Homo erectus was an endurance runner, as far as can be seen, is based on the fact that some humans today can endurance run. But even today humans are slow and inefficient runners compared to real runners like antelopes and dogs, and we need to carry water, need shoes, tracking skills, poisons, projectile weapons etc., to be successful running hunters. Homo erectus, if we take the heavy bones, wider hips and shorter legs alone, would have been slower and less efficient. So that’s evidence that comes straight from the fossil record.

    Would these features have helped in an underwater foraging lifestyle. Yes! Unexpectedly heavy bones are a trait of animals that forage in relatively shallow water, so are wide bodies, and the aligned body of ‘erectine grade’ species. It makes perfect sense if all the data are considered together, but for some reason people seem stuck on this idea that Homo erectus was running over open savannas.

  309. #311 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    #294 I don’t understand your questions, Greg.

    Littoral adaptations in Homo (pachyosteosclerosis, paltycephaly, platymeria, very short toes, projecting nostrils, intercontinental dispersal, island colonisation…), all these appear apparently (early) Pleistocene in the fossil record.

    About hands: in many instances do humans have more primitive (monkey-like, although rel.broader) hands than apes, who (except gorillas) got longer (chimps) or much longer (pongids & hylobatids) hands (for brachiation, suspension, knuckle-walking resp.).

    Hope this helps?

  310. #312 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “At the time of the split (c 5 Ma?) chimp ancestors & human ancestors were identical, so AAT is not about the Homo/Pan split. ”

    Now you are being either stupid or disrespectful and I do not appreciate that. That is really obnoxious.

  311. #313 Greg Laden
    March 15, 2014

    “At the time of the split (c 5 Ma?) chimp ancestors & human ancestors were identical, so AAT is not about the Homo/Pan split. ”

    Now you are being either stupid or disrespectful and I do not appreciate that. That is really obnoxious.

    “AAT is about the differences between between humans & chimps-bonobos. These differences appeared at some time after the split (i.e. in the last c 5 Ma, some differences perhaps early, others perhaps late).”

    So you don’t have an answer. It is about the split but it could have happened millions of years later so it is not about the split.

    Please clarify and do so clearly and respectfully. My patience is running thing. Not entirely your fault by I advice you to be careful.

  312. #314 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    #286

    Greg wrote:

    “feeding on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud.”

    So one could rephrase your statement this way, right?
    Homo, from the earliest pre-erectus grade through later middle or early-late pleistocene archaic Homo sapiens feed primarily on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud. Other sources of food were incidental. They did not occupy habitats where these resources were not sufficiently available all year round that these would be the primary diet.

    It’s not far from what we believe, though we have never said other (non-waterside foods) were incidental. Vitamin C is obviously a very important nutrient for humans, and it is possible that the best source of this were terrestrial food sources such as fruit. There may have been times (seasonally or for certain populations), when terrestrial foods may have been much more than incidental, and may have indeed been essential and even more important than aquatic resources.

    But if they weren’t relying on underwater foraging, there’d be no need for them to retain the heavy bones, which really are a disadvantage on land, so we suspect they (at least those populations with extraordinarily heavy bones) were regular (though part-time) underwater foragers in relatively shallow waters.

    Hope these answers help you at least see what we are trying to argue, Greg, whether you agree or not.

    Best regards.

  313. #315 marc verhaegen
    March 15, 2014

    #293
    “How does this “Homo, from the earliest pre-erectus grade through later middle or early-late pleistocene archaic homo sapiens feed primarily on waterside & shallow aquatic plants & animals including hard-shelled foods (stone tools), stranded whales (Dungo V) & ungulates drowned or killed in shallow water, reedbeds or mud.” (I’ll use my rephrasing) relate to long distance water crossing?”

    I didn’t say anyhting about “archaic homo sapiens” nor about “pre-erectus grade”, I spoke about “archaic Homo”, i.e. not sapiens, but long+flat-skulled & usu.thick-boned pre-sapiens Homo. H.sapiens, in fact, lost the long skulls & got thinner skulls, suggesting they didn’t dive any more (or rarely), but instead got very long (tibias) & straight legs & more basi-cranial flexion (directing the eyes more downward), suggesting more wading.

    “long distance water crossing”: You mean Flores? Reaching Flores is far more likely for semi-aquatic animals than for savanna animals, don’t you think? In any case, pachyostosis shows excellent diving skills. H.sapiens (ex-semi-aquatic) can cross the Chanel (32 km), so why not erectus (semi-aquatic) to Flores (18 km)?

  314. #316 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    March 15, 2014

    Stephen, thanks a lot for all our answers, I fully agree, of course, and hope they help Greg & others understand what we want to say – although I thought our papers were clear enough?? google “Laden blog Verhaegen”, “econiche Homo”, “aquarboreal”, “evolution Verhaegen”, “pachyosteosclerosis Homo” etc.

  315. #317 Stephen Munro
    March 15, 2014

    Hi Greg, you wrote:

    “At the time of the split (c 5 Ma?) chimp ancestors & human ancestors were identical, so AAT is not about the Homo/Pan split. ”

    Now you are being either stupid or disrespectful and I do not appreciate that. That is really obnoxious.

    “AAT is about the differences between between humans & chimps-bonobos. These differences appeared at some time after the split (i.e. in the last c 5 Ma, some differences perhaps early, others perhaps late).”

    So you don’t have an answer. It is about the split but it could have happened millions of years later so it is not about the split.

    Please clarify and do so clearly and respectfully. My patience is running thing. Not entirely your fault by I advice you to be careful.

    :-) Please do so respectfully?

    I don’t think Marc called anybody stupid or obnoxious? :-)

    But it’s clear you’re not understanding what Marc is arguing.

    Pan and Homo obviously split at some time in the past. Our idea is that Homo, may have become isolated from Pan in coastal forests, while Pan remained in inland forests. At that time they were essentially identical, so what Marc is saying is that it wasn’t ‘AAT’ that caused the split (as Elaine apparently believed).

    Living in coastal forests, already adapted to feeding in flooded forests (aquarboreal model), our argument is that these populations gradually also learned to gather shellfish, at first perhaps by plucking them off mangrove roots as one would fruit from branches (small evolutionary step), but then also, over millions of years, also learning to forage underwater for them (as modern humans do today). Our argument is that, according to the fossil record, evidence of this transition is only apparent in the Pleistocene. But did some of these features evolve earlier and there is just no fossil record? It’s possible but difficult to know.

    What we do know is that heavy boned Homo erectus appears through out the old world from China to England, during the Pleistocene, and we argue that they did this by dispersing around coasts and up rivers, collecting food from these waterside habitats along the way.

    Best regards.

  316. #318 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 15, 2014

    Reply #314

    There’s vitamin C in raw oysters.

  317. #319 marc verhaegen
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAT
    March 16, 2014

    “At the time of the split (c 5 Ma?) chimp ancestors & human ancestors were identical, so AAT is not about the Homo/Pan split. ”
    Now you are being either stupid or disrespectful and I do not appreciate that. That is really obnoxious.

    ???
    Before insulting me, I advise you to read the recent literature on AAT: I am not tho one who is being either stupid or disrespectful here. I tried but am apparently unable to help you here: I have the impression that you might have some “unproven assumptions & common misunderstandings” about what AAT is or should be in your eyes. I think I’ve had enough patience with you: you first have to inform, Greg. Some recent relevant publications, you can always ask me the pdf:

    – M Verhaegen, P-F Puech & S Munro 2002 “Aquarboreal ancestors?” Trends in Ecol & Evol 17:212-7, can easily be found by googling “aquarboreal”

    – M Verhaegen & S Munro 2002 “The continental shelf hypothesis” Nutr Health 16:25-27

    – M Verhaegen, S Munro, M Vaneechoutte, R Bender & N Oser 2007 “The original econiche of the genus Homo: open plain or waterside?”:155-186 in SI Muño 2007 “Ecology Research Progress” Nova NY, can easily be found by googling “econiche Homo”, please read it carefully

    – S Munro & M Verhaegen 2011 “Pachyosteosclerosis in archaic Homo: heavy skulls for diving, heavy legs for wading?”:82-105 in M Vaneechoutte, A Kuliukas & M Verhaegen eds 2011 “Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? Fifty Years after Alister Hardy: Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution” eBook Bentham Sci Publ

    – M Verhaegen, S Munro, P-F Puech & M Vaneechoutte 2011 “Early Hominoids: orthograde aquarboreals in flooded forests?” ibid.:67-81

    – M Verhaegen & S Munro 2011 “Pachyosteosclerosis suggests archaic Homo frequently collected sessile littoral foods” HOMO J compar hum Biol 62:237-247

    – M Vaneechoutte, S Munro & M Verhaegen 2012 “Reply to John Langdon’s review of the eBook: Was Man more aquatic in the past?” HOMO J compar hum Biol 63:496-503

    – M Verhaegen 2013 “Common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the aquatic ape theory” at your own blog 30.1.13

    – M Verhaegen 2013 “The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis” Hum Evol 28:237-266

    – S Munro 2013 “Endurance running versus underwater foraging: an antomical and palaeoecological perspective” Hum Evol 28:201-212

    – several other papers on AAT (the proceedings of the Congress “Human Evolution” in London last year with Don Johanson & David Attenborough) with which can be found in 2 editions of Hum.Evolution:

    SPECIAL EDITION PART 1 (end 2013)
    – P Rhys-Evans “Introduction”
    – S Oppenheimer “Human’s Association with Water Bodies: the ‘Exaggerated Diving Reflex’ and its Relationship with the Evolutionary Allometry of Human Pelvic and Brain Sizes”
    – JH Langdon “Human Ecological Breadth: Why Neither Savanna nor Aquatic Hypotheses can Hold Water”
    – S Munro “Endurance Running versus Underwater Foraging: an Anatomical and Palaeoecological Perspective”
    – A Kuliukas “Wading Hypotheses of the Origin of Human Bipedalism”
    – M Verhaegen “The Aquatic Ape evolves: Common Misconceptions and Unproven Assumptions about the So-Called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”
    – CL Broadhurst & M Crawford “The Epigenetic Emergence of Culture at the Coastline: Interaction of Genes, Nutrition, Environment and Demography”

    SPECIAL EDITION PART 2 (begin 2014) with 12 contributions

  318. #320 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    ” I think I’ve had enough patience with you: you first have to inform, Greg.” MV

    Oh yes, right on schedule. Watch us now as we wave our arms and stamp our feet. Nothing is supported but that doesn’t matter. Just mix it with a little sugar, put a clothespin on your nose and ~swallow our story uncritically~. Don’t ask any awkward questions and you’ll fit right in.

    Here’s an awkward question. How do you claim convergence when you’ve failed to demonstrate it? Where is the NUL hypothesis in all this handwaving?

  319. #321 UillF
    March 16, 2014

    Greg, I seriously doubt you will get a rational answer from either Munro or Marc. to the numerous errors in their arguments.

    The unbelievable convoluted twaddle they peddle in their comments on the relevance of the Australopithecus, shows why John Hawks was right in 2005, 2009 and is today, when he explained why the AAT (an its many variations) is something anthropologists, do not want
    to waste their time on.

    http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/pseudoscience/aquatic_ape_theory.html

  320. #322 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    John Hawks could’ve shortened his blog article to this:

    (Head) Why anthropologists don’t accept the Aquatic Ape Theory

    (Body) Because anthropologists can’t get credit for its discovery.

  321. #323 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    “I don’t think Marc called anybody stupid or obnoxious?” SM

    Then you haven’t read anything he’s written. Take a stroll through Sci.Anthro.Paleo sometime. Pity that you seem to have hitched your wagon to that ol’ plow horse.

    “What we do know is that heavy boned Homo erectus appears through out the old world from China to England, during the Pleistocene, and we argue that they did this by dispersing around coasts and up rivers, collecting food from these waterside habitats along the way.” SM

    That’s not ~all~ you’re arguing, is it? No, you’ve got a laundry list of talking points that you claim is a direct result of association with water. You haven’t established that HE was unusually heavy boned and even if you had, you couldn’t point to the reason why. Here’s your KNM-WT 15000 –put a hoodie and some sweat pants on him and he could be waiting for a bus.

    http://donsmaps.com/images29/turkanaboy.jpg

    Good luck with your career.

  322. #324 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    You know what would be great, Chris? If you took *all* the credit for the AAT. I’m sure that would come as great relief to some who’ve had second thoughts. Why don’t you surprise everybody and post some evidence in support of your (cough) hypothesis, eh kid? *Surprise everybody* –even yourself.

  323. #325 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    The credit ain’t mine, either. You know who has her come-uppin coming.

    Elaine Morgan for the Darwin-Wallace medal. Posthumously.

  324. #326 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    Firstly, I don’t see any evidence there (whew, that was close).

    Secondly, I’d like to play this new wet ape game too. How ’bout Pol Pot for Nobel Peace Prize (posthumously, of course).

  325. #327 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Right, dude, comparing Elaine Morgan and Pol Pot makes perfect sense.

  326. #328 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    What makes perfect sense, dude, is comparing Elaine Morgan ~ Darwin-Wallace with Pol Pot ~ Nobel Peace Prize. You don’t see the sense there? I’m shocked.

  327. #329 Greg Laden
    March 16, 2014

    “But it’s clear you’re not understanding what Marc is arguing.”

    I am making an honest effort to understand but this is your point being made, so you need to put some effort into this too. This particular comment is helpful, thanks.

    “Pan and Homo obviously split at some time in the past. Our idea is that Homo, may have become isolated from Pan in coastal forests, while Pan remained in inland forests. At that time they were essentially identical, so what Marc is saying is that it wasn’t ‘AAT’ that caused the split (as Elaine apparently believed).”

    So the AAT specifically addresses the ape-human split, suggesting that two sub populations of the LCA lived in different habitats with different selection pressures and this got the thing going. Do I have that right?

    “Living in coastal forests, already adapted to feeding in flooded forests (aquarboreal model), our argument is that these populations gradually also learned to gather shellfish, at first perhaps by plucking them off mangrove roots as one would fruit from branches (small evolutionary step), but then also, over millions of years, also learning to forage underwater for them (as modern humans do today). Our argument is that, according to the fossil record, evidence of this transition is only apparent in the Pleistocene. But did some of these features evolve earlier and there is just no fossil record? It’s possible but difficult to know.”

    OK, this may need a bit more parsing out. The Ape-human split happened in the Miocene, let’s say 5-6mya. The Pleistocene is 2.6 these days. So, between ~5 and 2.6 you are saying that there is no physical evidence for AAT adaptations though the model suggests that the initial split involving the above mentioned habitats would have been a continued selective force. Are you specifically saying that for the most part, AAT related Pleistocene adaptations are not seen in the fossil record because those particular hominids do not happen to be in the fossil record?

    “What we do know is that heavy boned Homo erectus appears through out the old world from China to England, during the Pleistocene, and we argue that they did this by dispersing around coasts and up rivers, collecting food from these waterside habitats along the way.”

    So with this and the other things that have been noted, I take this to mean that some, and eventually all/most, of the hominids post 2.6, starting with some subset of that mess we call habilis, are showing distinct AAT adaptations related to coasts and larger rivers and waterside adaptations being primary. Another way of saying this might be that the hominids that were AAT adpating/adapted between ~5 and 2.6mya have shifted into visibility in the fossil record and also are continuing to change under selection. Right?

    If so, I have a small additional question that may not be answerable or just may be opinion but I’ll give it at try. Was there also a change in the kind or level of AAT related selection at around 2.6, or is the appearance of these adaptations mainly a matter of what gets spotted in the fossil record? In other words, is there a sort of AAT 1.0 pre 2.6mya followed by an AAT 2.0 after 2.6, or is this all mainly a streetlamp phenomenon?

    Final question along these lines: I am not an aquatic ape. Most people I know aren’t. The basketmaker Pueblo people of the American Southwest weren’t. Generally, modern humans are not. So, what is the time frame for and what are the shifts in evidence away from AAT adaptations? Is this essentially synonymous in your opinion with gracilization? Or something else?

  328. #330 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Reply #328
    “What makes perfect sense, dude, is comparing Elaine Morgan ~ Darwin-Wallace with Pol Pot ~ Nobel Peace Prize. You don’t see the sense there? I’m shocked.”

    No, I do not. Pol Pot was a mad mass murderer, that sought to relieve the pressure of over population by any means necessary. Elaine Morgan was an amateur scientist, that responded to a mistreated discovery into ourselves. Pol Pot sought no peace, but only blood, and is therefore nowhere near relevant for an honorary peace recognition. Elaine Morgan sought to put an end to detrimental anthropocentrism in a stagnant scientific field, and is therefore quite relevant for one of its highest honors.

    So no, I don’t see any sense whatsoever in your analogy, and you’re a fucking asshole for positing it.

  329. #331 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Reply #329

    “Final question along these lines: I am not an aquatic ape. Most people I know aren’t. The basketmaker Pueblo people of the American Southwest weren’t. Generally, modern humans are not.”

    Greg, let me throw a question back at you. Do you take a shower every day? Have you ever taken your children down to the seaside? Do your personal habitat (house) have its own pool? Did your honeymoon by any chance go to a “romantic” tropical beach somewhere?

    These are ethological aquatic observations about ourselves. My point is, that sometimes you can’t see the forest for all them damn trees.

  330. #332 Greg Laden
    March 16, 2014

    Most people don’t take showers everyday, so no cherry picking from modern society. Not big on swimming, myself. My wife’s family is part fish, though. My son has been taking swimming lessons since he was born. Four years is a long time … oh never mind, see the blog post above!

    Anyway, so, let me rephrase your answer back to you to make sure I get it right. The AAT adaptations are still very much in effect so overall modern human adaptations are the same set of adaptations as the AAT adaptations, no changes have occurred over the last several tens of thousands of years.

    Correct?

    I’m just trying to get the AAT stated clearly.

  331. #333 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    That many peoples aren’t bathing today is due to lack of ressources in an over populated human world. Human bathing is a very old practice and evident in some of the oldest surviving cultures and structures build. Christians bathe their newborns, muslims bathe their dead, hindus bathe themselves in the Ganges. There’s a frickin’ bathtub with dolphin frescoes in the palace of Minos from 1500 BC, one of the oldest surviving structures in Europe. The Roman empire had thousands of public and private bath houses, comparable to our modern day public pools. Bathing disappeared from European standard for many centuries after the fall of the Roman empire, but that was a fluke based on loss of ressources, like some places in Asia today, and at the same time as the European “dark ages”, the Islamic, Hindu, Chinese and even Viking cultures bathed extensively. Human bathing is not a recent 19th century activity, hell, it may be millions of years old.

    You’re saying it yourself, parts of your immediate family is aquatically inclined, at least much more than any other ape specimen would be expected to be out of its own free will. Try to bathe a cat and you’ll see the difference.

    As to the time line, opinions vary between aquatic proponents. Marc V. has high confidence in his personal conclusions (which I personally think borders on over confidence at times), where someone like Morgan generally showed more flexibility. Personally, I find it likely with gradual transition to more and more aquaticism, which can also apply to earlier forms, e.g. hominin australopiths. You’re right, an AAT 1.0 and 2.0 is quite possible. There’s no set consensus (among aquatic proponents) about that at this time.

    And yes, changes can have appeared also within 10kya’s. Somebody like Chan Wang-Chak have expressed, that endurance running could’ve had an influence on human evolution after or concurrent with an aquatic phase, but since e.g. archaic Homo sapiens. In many human populations, e.g. 10.000 years of agriculture have had influence on lactose tolerance. My own ethnicity, Scandinavian, originates from mesolithic big game hunters from the Asian plains, which could be why we are prone to more hairy bodies than e.g. the Japanese, that originates from SE Asian archipelago and costal regions. I.e. more terrestrial cultures redevelop hair cover compared to costal cultures (not compared to other simians, though). These could be examples of changes that have occurred over the last number of tens of thousands of years. Because evolution is always on. The Jewish populations of Scandinavia have in 4-600 years time evolved from an original brownish skin pigmentation (according to sources, like the ones of recent muslim immigrants to Scandinavia) to one as pale as the gentile population, this as an adaptation to less solar radiation in the North. Something similar may be accurring with contemporary Afro-American populations in North America, many today being remarkedly paler than their original Nigerian-Congolese relatives.

  332. #334 Greg Laden
    March 16, 2014

    “That many peoples aren’t bathing today is due to lack of ressources in an over populated human world. ”

    We know from anthropology that bathing varies across human cultures. But yes some kind of bathing is widespread, but really, there are groups where it is virtually non existent.

    But that’s probably not that important. My question is still open: Is the level to which Homo sapiens is AAT complaint, as it were, the same now as it was 50,000 years ago, more, or less? (I think that’s a good way to ask the question).

  333. #335 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    The last 50kya, we have managed to spread to almost the entire globe (even though we’re concentrated along rivers and coasts, but whatever), which bring a whole new host of selective pressures in many new habitats, and the big game changer has been agriculture the last 10kya. I can’t answer, whether the aquatic influence has been constant in that period, it would be like trying to answer a similar question about the elephant family and their aquatic evolution. All that we can see, is that we have these aquatic markers, like elephants do. An aquatic heritage, if you will. One, that the other apes don’t seem to have, at least not as profound.

    And with the nutrion observations (PUFA’s, Iodine, etc.) for the human brain, the lesson from AAH/AAT is that the success of agriculture (which has its benefits in terms of securing foods across seasons) risk having detrimental costs to our encephalization (actually, that would explain a lot of what the hell we’re doing as a species). Because our brain originally evolved on a diet of seafood, that we’re now moving away from in order to feed a large world population.

    Please stop laughing at AAH long enough to fully comprehend the repurcussions of that. That some bookselling amateur stand to gain the recognition for this discovery mustn’t be an excuse to keep neglecting these important studies. It’d be irresponsible on a gross level. It’d only be stemming from our ape dominance behavior, not scientific inquiry. And then Academia’d be no better than dumb politicians.

  334. #336 Greg Laden
    March 16, 2014

    Are you linking the current relative concentration of the population along coasts and large rivers today to the AAT then?

  335. #337 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Yes. The most expensive housing in a region is most often located at waterfronts, ’cause that’s where we all wish to have our habitat, if we have a choice (= money, etc.).

    Some have argued, that we are concentrated at waterfronts, because agriculture needs rich soil, which is most concentrated along river beds (due to seasonal floods bringing nutrients). That we live where the food is, and that agriculture is the cause for us only recently concentrating around waterfronts. But then that doesn’t explain, why we don’t live in droves in the Russian plains or the North American Midwest, ’cause that’s just as much where the food is. No, we huddle together in droves along rivers and coastlines, most notably in China and India. Because we want to. Just these two river-dominated nations have three eights of the entire human population. People often say, that we live everywhere. I think it’s somewhat unfounded assumption, I’d say we have a clear preference for waterfronts. And yes, AAH provides a cause for that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Population_density_with_key.png

  336. #338 Greg Laden
    March 16, 2014

    That map kills your argument dead in relation to modern humans and rivers.

    http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/lib/exe/fetch.php/resources/uberbam_rivers_noborders.png

  337. #339 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Huh? How? Try superimpose the two maps over each other. Or with this one:

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Vegetation_with_cities.png

  338. #340 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    Elaine is to [scientific prizes] as Pol Pot is to the Peace Prize. Nowhere amongst all that is any indication that I equate Elaine with Pol. That you take this upside down and then attack it is symptomatic of your larger problem. You don’t think so good and it’s evident *every time* you hit enter.

    Congratulations.

  339. #341 Makouli
    March 16, 2014

    Oh yes. Post agriculture population centers are located on river systems –the Ganges, the Nile, the Yangtze, the Tigris and Euphrates, etc. Hence, the AAT must be correct.

    Oh, and showers.

    Brilliant.

  340. #342 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Yeah, showers. Try not taking a bath for three days and see if the other apes wanna talk to you. With that descended larynx of theirs.

  341. #343 UillF
    March 16, 2014

    #337

    Throughout recorded history , there has been obvious advantage for locating cities on the coast and near major rivers. An for concentrating the available workforce in those waterside cities, and that was and is trade.

  342. #344 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    I have to ask this, why is it easier to freigh goods along water bodies than over land?

  343. #345 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    Exactly, it isn’t. Maybe the difference is the same, either one carries its own challenges. One is dependent on inventing boating, and the other of inventing husbandry (okay, I’m talking out of Sid Meier’s Civilization here).

  344. #346 UillF
    March 16, 2014

    What powered a sailing ship in ages past, and how many trucks, rail wagons would
    be needed to shift the tonnage of one of today’s largest container ships?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A6rsk_Mc-Kinney_M%C3%B8ller_%28ship%29

  345. #347 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 16, 2014

    I think it’s more apt to compare dugouts and camels for the first couple of civilizations. Incidentally, boating is perhaps as old as 130kya (Crete, of all places) and husbandry perhaps 10kya (a carrying animal like the ox). Plus some wonder how Homo erectus made it to Flores perhaps already 840kya (this based on tools found). Then of course the question is why we’re inclined to boating before domesticating terrestrial animals?

  346. #348 Stephen Munro
    March 16, 2014

    Hi Greg, I’ve tried to make the conversation a little easier to follow by adding our initials. The quotes you refer to of mine have “quote marks”

    SM “But it’s clear you’re not understanding what Marc is arguing.”

    GL I am making an honest effort to understand but this is your point being made, so you need to put some effort into this too. This particular comment is helpful, thanks.

    SM: “Pan and Homo obviously split at some time in the past. Our idea is that Homo, may have become isolated from Pan in coastal forests, while Pan remained in inland forests. At that time they were essentially identical, so what Marc is saying is that it wasn’t ‘AAT’ that caused the split (as Elaine apparently believed).”

    GL: So the AAT specifically addresses the ape-human split, suggesting that two sub populations of the LCA lived in different habitats with different selection pressures and this got the thing going. Do I have that right?

    SM: Not exactly. We’re not suggesting the split itself, ‘got things going’ as you put it, nor that the initial split necessarily had anything to do with the AAT. We believe the population that gave rise to the genera Pan and Homo was ‘aquarboreal’, possibly living in coastal forests that were sometimes flooded. Homo simply remained in those littoral forests, whereas Pan may have become separated from Homo when the original forest they shared with Homo (as one population) became fragmented, with Pan in the inland forests now no longer connected with the coast. In our scenario, the Homo branch, being on the coast, and then being subjected to Pleistocene cooling and drying (less trees, more continental shelf) were in a position to add valuable protein (shellfish) to their diet, whereas inland chimps evolved to live in drier conditions, becoming more quadrupedal.

    SM: “Living in coastal forests, already adapted to feeding in flooded forests (aquarboreal model), our argument is that these populations gradually also learned to gather shellfish, at first perhaps by plucking them off mangrove roots as one would fruit from branches (small evolutionary step), but then also, over millions of years, also learning to forage underwater for them (as modern humans do today). Our argument is that, according to the fossil record, evidence of this transition is only apparent in the Pleistocene. But did some of these features evolve earlier and there is just no fossil record? It’s possible but difficult to know.”

    GL: OK, this may need a bit more parsing out. The Ape-human split happened in the Miocene, let’s say 5-6mya. The Pleistocene is 2.6 these days. So, between ~5 and 2.6 you are saying that there is no physical evidence for AAT adaptations though the model suggests that the initial split involving the above mentioned habitats would have been a continued selective force. Are you specifically saying that for the most part, AAT related Pleistocene adaptations are not seen in the fossil record because those particular hominids do not happen to be in the fossil record?

    SM: The initial split may not have been, as you term it ‘a continued selective force’. The main difference between the ‘aquarboreal’ phase and the ‘littoral’ phase (that includes regular though part-time underwater foraging), as far as I see it, is that in the littoral phase (‘erectine grade’) hominins are no longer reliant on trees, therefore they can afford to have larger and heavier bodies, including the large brains and heavy skulls which would probably be a disadvantage in a still arboreal species. During the Pliocene, the 5 to 2.6 Ma you refer to, human ancestors may still have been what we call aquarboreal, so no, we wouldn’t expect any of the features we see in ‘erectine grade’ hominins, who we see as no longer dependent on trees, with larger and more streamlined bodies, large brains and heavy skeletons, to show up in the fossil record. In other words, the split placed them in different geographic regions, and being at the coast (in forests) human ancestors may well have been learning how to gather shellfish even perhaps from under water, but if they were still living in trees (and why not if there were still plenty of trees and associated fruit), they may have been restricted in terms of how large their bodies and brains could grow, and the thick bones and linear body. At the beginning of the Pleistocene (ice ages), vast areas on the continental shelf became exposed (sea levels lowered), at first these would have been shallow water habitats no doubt rich in shellfish. The ice ages also meant less rainfall (more water was locked at the poles in icecaps) and therefore forests would have become fragmented, dwindling and in some places disappearing. We argue that it may have been this event that was the catalyst for the evolution of the ‘erectine grade’ hominins that appear in the fossil record in the Pleistocene (AAT), that they abandoned the trees which no longer were as extensive and therefore did not offer the same amount of food, and instead became more dependent on protein and fats that coincidentally helped fuel the growth of a large brain, and they developed a larger more streamlined body and heavy skeletons and breath control to help them forage for this food underwater, but also continued to use the land, and move around coasts and up rivers, using tools to open shells and also butcher land animals which they could have hunted or scavenged.

    SM: “What we do know is that heavy boned Homo erectus appears throughout the old world from China to England, during the Pleistocene, and we argue that they did this by dispersing around coasts and up rivers, collecting food from these waterside habitats along the way.”

    GL: So with this and the other things that have been noted, I take this to mean that some, and eventually all/most, of the hominids post 2.6, starting with some subset of that mess we call habilis, are showing distinct AAT adaptations related to coasts and larger rivers and waterside adaptations being primary. Another way of saying this might be that the hominids that were AAT adpating/adapted between ~5 and 2.6mya have shifted into visibility in the fossil record and also are continuing to change under selection. Right?

    SM: I think I understand your question. If human ancestors between 5 and 2.6 Ma were in coastal forests they may well have been aquarboreal and in that case may have been not much different to australopiths (perhaps Homo habilis-like?). It is possible that we begin to see large brained and large linear bodied ‘erectine grade’ fossils only in the Pleistocene because that is when they first evolved (because of the ice ages). The other possibility is that there were ‘erectine grade’ species earlier, but they are invisible to the fossil record because there are no coastal sites from East Africa or indeed much of the Indian Ocean from the Pliocene (certainly that I am aware of), but this is pure speculation.

    GL: If so, I have a small additional question that may not be answerable or just may be opinion but I’ll give it at try. Was there also a change in the kind or level of AAT related selection at around 2.6, or is the appearance of these adaptations mainly a matter of what gets spotted in the fossil record? In other words, is there a sort of AAT 1.0 pre 2.6mya followed by an AAT 2.0 after 2.6, or is this all mainly a streetlamp phenomenon?

    SM: It’s of course all speculative because we simply do not have any fossils of Homo before 2.6Ma, or from the east African coast (Indian Ocean), which is where we place them during this period.

    But my own opinion, is that during this time human ancestors may well have retained the climbing abilities they no doubt shared with the LCA, and therefore there may not have been any ‘erectine grade’ species from this earlier period (in other words no AAT 1.0 pre 2.6Ma). That’s not to say the period was irrelevant. Learning to harvest shellfish, at first off tree trunks (as I said before, not a huge evolutionary step for a hominoid already adept at plucking hard shelled fruits from trees), then off rocks and then by digging in the sand on the beach, and then by going into the shallow water and finally by actually diving under the water, are all small evolutionary steps, but may well have taken millions of years to develop. So I guess whereas traditional anthropology has australopiths wandering around the savanna-mosaic in a type of nursery learning how to run after large mammals, we have human ancestors in coastal forests, in a type of nursery, learning how to collect and consume shellfish, if that makes sense.

    GL: Final question along these lines: I am not an aquatic ape. Most people I know aren’t. The basketmaker Pueblo people of the American Southwest weren’t. Generally, modern humans are not. So, what is the time frame for and what are the shifts in evidence away from AAT adaptations? Is this essentially synonymous in your opinion with gracilization? Or something else?

    SM: Yes, gracilization along with longer legs (i.e., tibia), less streamlined skull (no longer long and low but upright and domed), the development of a chin and more basicranial flexion, femoral bones that are no longer flattened and have a pilaster, shorter femoral necks that aren’t as horizontal, narrower hips. This all occurs with Homo sapiens (anatomically modern humans), so I’d guess this was when humans became less reliant on underwater foraging and more terrestrially adapted, with some populations abandoning permanent water completely. The fossil record suggests this happened sometime in the last few hundred thousand years. As they became more terrestrially adapted, they naturally would have developed terrestrial agility, including more efficient running, which is where Lieberman’s research has relevance.

    I know it’s a little complicated and ‘unconventional’ if one comes from a traditional anthropological viewpoint, but at least to my mind the aquarboreal and littoral models are beautifully consistent with the available data, not at all extreme, and I’ve yet to see any substantial arguments that make them impossible, and certainly no alternatives that better explain the available data.

    Hope this helps you understand our arguments a little better, but if not, we have published a number of papers that we can easily send you as PDFs if you’re interested. Just let us know.

    Best regards.

  347. #349 holy cow
    March 16, 2014

    Greg had a good point to clarify,

    “is there a sort of AAT 1.0 pre 2.6mya followed by an AAT 2.0 after 2.6, or is this all mainly a streetlamp phenomenon?”

    The answers seem to be partly addressed in Munro’s posts 308 and 317, but I would like to see the answer clarified.

    #308:
    “The aquarboreal model is relevant to the australopiths (as it is all hominoids) but the AAT (at least the way we see it, and we differ fundamentally from Elaine here) is about, ‘erectine grade’ hominins (such as Homo erectus),”

    #317:
    “Living in coastal forests, already adapted to feeding in flooded forests (aquarboreal model), our argument is that these populations gradually also learned to gather shellfish, at first perhaps by plucking them off mangrove roots as one would fruit from branches (small evolutionary step), but then also, over millions of years, also learning to forage underwater for them (as modern humans do today). Our argument is that, according to the fossil record, evidence of this transition is only apparent in the Pleistocene. But did some of these features evolve earlier and there is just no fossil record? It’s possible but difficult to know.”

  348. #350 holy cow
    March 16, 2014

    Oops it just happened! Was afraid that question was lost in the previous posts.

  349. #351 UillF
    March 17, 2014

    #347

    Chris

    Simple dugouts seem unlikely for those ancients who were city builders. But, they would
    probably have been useful for early man migrating using the long route (coasts). Coracles
    are probably among the simplest and oldest “boats”. Versions of them are found from
    north-western Europe to Vietnam and Tibet.

    Sumerians are credited with invention of the wheel, the chariot and the sailboat
    among other things.

    Sail-boats were used for trade of goods in ancient Sumer some 5000 and more
    years ago. There is as far as I recall, a mention of a sea voyage in a sail boat in
    the Epic of Gilgamesh (written nearly 4000 years ago).

    Boats are primarily about movement on water and trading so they probably pre-date
    animal husbandry, farming and settlement.

    Humans congregating in river valleys and on the coasts is as old as the
    trade in goods.As old as civilisation.

  350. #352 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 17, 2014

    If Homo erectus made it to Flores 840kya (again, based on tools, not fossils), it’s much older than civilization.

  351. #353 UillF
    March 17, 2014

    #352

    Chris, I made no mention of possible early members, of genus Homo.

    I was pointing out the most likely reason humans (Modern Man) have congregated on coasts and in major river valleys over recorded history
    has to do with trade.

  352. #354 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 17, 2014

    Then it still doesn’t make sense, that we don’t congregate further inland as well, on fertile plains in moderne day Russia, etc. At least in just as many numbers. Carrying goods across waterbodies og over land is equally challenging.

    And you’re quick to ignore what seems to be an eon long affinity for riverbeds and coasts for both past and modern humans (at least since Homo erectus). That does have relevance when observing a similar affinity for riverbeds and coasts in the first complex civilizations.

  353. #355 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 23, 2014

    Next dumb question:
    Marv V. and his peers claims that Homo erectus had denser bones than Homo sapiens, Marc calling it pachyosteosclerosis. This they claim is a marker of He having been more aquatic than Hs, because adaptation towards denser bones is seen in aquatic mammals adapting from a terrestrial life towards an aquatic one.

    Is this a valid claim? Did He have denser bones than Hs, AMH? I could use informed input from other than proponents and trolls.

  354. #356 UillF
    March 24, 2014

    Not a dumb question, but it is a dumb claim.

    As was the claim that the H.erectus could not run as they had ‘dense’ bones, and as
    a result were restricted to a slow shuffle or to crawling on the shore.

    By the way, is he suggesting that the H.erectus dived feet first?

    Weight and bone density, do not present a problem for elephants. They
    can move pretty fast, when they have too.

  355. #357 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 24, 2014

    I don’t think Marc means their bones were only denser in the legs. In such case, they probably dove like we do:
    http://hornshire.com/aah/plunge.jpg

    And … elephants are too argued as past semiaquatics, in their case all the way back to Moeritherium 37mya. Which has been suggested by anthropology unrelated to any human aquatic “nonsense.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/04/15/elephants-were-aquatic/
    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/13/one-protein-shows-elephants-and-moles-had-aquatic-ancestors/

  356. #358 UillF
    March 25, 2014

    #357

    As AMH can shallow dive, without being a bonehead. (unlike some Homo erectus,
    whose fossils were found in China), as an argument for an “aquatic” contribution
    to hominin evolution, Homo erectus having dense bones, is irrelevant.

    http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo/homo_2.htm
    http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2009/06/15/the-skull-crushing-hyenas-of-d/

    Elephants they may have had an ‘aquatic’ ancestor of sorts, but on the other hand
    whales and dolphins had terrestrial ancestors tens of millions years ago.

    Nor does it change the fact that a large terrestrial animal with dense bones, such
    as an African elephant, can move fast when it needs too.

  357. #359 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 25, 2014

    But is it accurately put, the He had denser bones than AMH? That’s what I’m trying to confirm.

    And I’m not suggesting that past semiaquatics, e.g. elephants, can’t run on land. Humans can sprint on land it we really have to. Compared to e.g. chimps, we’re just not very good at it.

    That there should be past semiaquatic mammal families (other than Homo) around makes perfect sense. Large water bodies come and go during the geological calendar. Which makes it possible for animal families to develop aquatic traits for a number of 100ky’s, but then when those water bodies disappear again, these animals are forced to adapt to new conditions or go extinct. Even though they retain aquatic traits from this phase, for instance bathing behavior, furlessness and a big ass trunk.

    http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20100128/African-Elephant-Bathing-1444826.jpg

    Other than elephants and humans, rhinos, tapirs, suids and shrews are suspected past or even present semiaquatics to some extent. So in such case, we’re not alone in going in and out of water.

    E.g. the Sahara is first wet, then dry, then wet, then dry, then wet, then dry during geological history, in the Sahara pump phenomenon. Which follows the same calendar as the ice ages. Large polar ice caps, wet and lush Sahara. Small polar ice caps (like today), dry and void Sahara. Which is why we find 10ky old human cave paintings in Southern Libya and Algeria of elephants, hippos, giraffes, antelopes etc. in the middle of a today dry desert. Maybe it’s in the Sahara, we need to dig for new hominins to further map out our family tree. Sahelanthropus was found in the Sahara region.

    Again, there are reasons to consider elephants partial aquatics, and ditto for humans. AAH is not exactly based on nothing.

  358. #360 UillF
    March 26, 2014

    #359

    The answer on denser bones would be yes, as apparently H.erectus, H.neanderthal
    would have had denser leg bones. On the other hand, I am not entirely convinced
    that the H.erectus in general, had skulls like those fossils found in China. As the
    H. ergaster/erectus in Africa, had thinner skull, more like that of AMH.

    Changes in hunting techniques, the use of fire, dietary changes, a more sedentary
    lifestyle and the odd fortuitous mutation or two have probably all contributed over
    the last 200,000 years to AMH being more gracile (lighter, slender and taller)
    than earlier members of the genus.

    Probably there are and have been semi-aquatic mammals (terrestrial mammals, that
    feed on what grows in, and what lives in water) as down through time, as mammals
    have exploited most of or all the niches in the last 65 Mya vacated by the dinosaurs
    and their kin.

    Humans being a 100% terrestrial show no indication of ever being semi-aquatic
    mammal, but their ability to learn has enabled them to exploit most niches, when
    it comes to filling their gut. Exploiting what is in shallow water is no big deal, once
    you have learnt how to swim, shallow dive.

    Think you will find that the Sahelanthropus, was found south of the Sahara, somewhere
    in Chad. The valley of the Awash further to the east, has been a richer source of fossils.

    The only foot the AAT has had so far on the plausible side of the line, was the
    dietary argument, but even that falls at the first hurdle

  359. #361 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 26, 2014

    Quote# 360: “Humans being a 100% terrestrial show no indication of ever being semi-aquatic mammal.”

    Again, you might as well keep saying, that the Earth is the center of the universe. No indications???

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/Skin.jpg

    That’s your skin, human. You see what’s missing at the epidermis, that’s otherwise present in the vast majority of terrestrial mammal species? You see those yellow pebbles beneath the dermis? That’s our blubber. At the least, it is in no way unreasonable or unscientific to make that convergent observation about human skin based on two unequivocal features in all extant Homo sapiens; near-furlessness and skinfat. That was Hardy’s first observation in this aquatic debate, and the number of indications has only mounted ever since. Once one has made just that one observation on human skinfat, it’s impossible to go back to the obsolete idea, that the Earth is flat on this issue. It’s impossible to keep perceiving us as a purely terrestrial ape, that is what is unscientific. Why is it fine to discuss aquaticism in terrestrials like extant elephants, but so preposterous to do it about apes??? You’re responding to this scientific challenge with the same psychology of the Holy See towards Galileo!!!

    Quote# 360: “The only foot the AAT has had so far on the plausible side of the line, was the dietary argument, but even that falls at the first hurdle.”

    And again, friar William goes out the window. When it’s about ourselves, the scientific method doesn’t apply. We’re just too damned scared to discover the limitations of our existence. We don’t want to know, what we are. Otherwise, the aquatic ape hypothesis’d be considered a no brainer.

  360. #362 UillF
    March 27, 2014

    #361

    What you are referring to is the hypodermis, what some inaccurately refer to as
    the subcutaneous layer; it is not unique to humans by any means.

    It functions as padding under the top layers of the skin, padding and insulation for
    the internal organs, aids in the thermoregulation of the body core temperature.
    Its main function, being fat, is an energy reserve. Other primates have a similar fat
    layer that is directly comparable to that found in Humans. For example, sedentary
    city dwelling humans can pile on the pounds (Kgs), as can macaques, gorillas
    and orangutans kept in captivity or zoos.

    The layer of blubber of aquatic mammals, is much thicker and has more blood
    vessels than the fat found terrestrial mammals.

  361. #363 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 27, 2014

    You’re talking about a completely different type of fat deposit in the other apes, visceral fat. The stuff that goes to the stomach and other large depots on our body, being a symptom of obesity, we share that with the other apes, yes. But that’s not the fat we have in our skin for insulation in lieu of fur. That subcutaneous type of fat deposit is unique to humans among the apes.

    Fully aquatic mammals having much thicker blubber (or whatever our subcutaneous fat is) is only logical, because they are much more aquatic than humans are argued to be here. Cetaceans have been aquatic for well over 50my, human have a max of 7, perhaps only 2. We’re not dolphin apes in any scenario. A better comparison would be the fat layer in the skin of suids also argued to be semiaquatics, e.g. the bacon of the domesticated pig.

  362. #364 UillF
    March 28, 2014

    #363

    Subcutaneous beneath the skin, visceral when surrounding the organs.

    As said, like sedentary humans, in captivity, zoos the likes of gorillas and even
    orangutans can pile on the pounds (Kgs) to the point where they can
    become obese.

    http://www.monkeyday.org/2010/09/obese-orangutan-oshine-latest-addition.html

    #363
    “…We’re not dolphin apes in any scenario. A better comparison would be the fat
    layer in the skin of suids also argued to be semiaquatics, e.g. the bacon of the
    domesticated pig…”

    The domesticated pig, is another sedentary animal that can pile on the pounds.

    Second, why bother with aquatic traits, if as you say they were not in the same league
    as dolphins? All humans require to go foraging in water, is to learn how to swim, swim
    efficiently and how to shallow dive. Monkeys can do it, without acquiring a whole
    raft of aquatic traits.

  363. #365 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 28, 2014

    Quote #364: “Subcutaneous beneath the skin, visceral when surrounding the organs. As said, like sedentary humans, in captivity, zoos the likes of gorillas and even orangutans can pile on the pounds (Kgs) to the point where they can become obese.”

    You know, I encounter this quite often in this AAH debate. If oponents can’t reject one of your arguments, they just act as if you didn’t say it. To repeat myself, obese zoo apes pile onto their visceral fat, not subcutaneous fat. Because the other great apes don’t possess that kind of tissue, while humans do. Humans get obese in the exact same depots and those zoo apes. Zoo apes are kept warm by their fur, which is the mammalian standard, whereas we are kept warm by our skinfat.

    Quote #364: “Second, why bother with aquatic traits, if as you say they were not in the same league as dolphins? All humans require to go foraging in water, is to learn how to swim, swim efficiently and how to shallow dive. Monkeys can do it, without acquiring a whole raft of aquatic traits.”

    The question since Darwin is why we are kept warm by our skinfat, while missing most of the mammalian fur. Most suggestions out there are almost totally bereft of analogies from the rest of the tree of life and are contrived as hell. Why bother with aquatic traits? Because it’s supported by convergent evolution. And parsimony. And human ethology. It’s all the purely terrestrial suggestions, that are bizarre by comparison, for at least this series of key human traits that differ from the other apes, and indeed all simians.

    Compare the diving ability of these two critters (and watch their bipedalism in water, eh?):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5i1xhq0G2Y
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrXQbucZUDA
    Who has the biggest aquatic potential of these two closely related apes?

  364. #366 UillF
    March 30, 2014

    #365

    Quote #364: “Subcutaneous beneath the skin, visceral when surrounding the organs. As said, like sedentary humans, in captivity, zoos the likes of gorillas and even orangutans can pile on the pounds (Kgs) to the point where they can become obese.”

    Quote # 365 “…Humans get obese in the exact same depots and those zoo apes. Zoo apes
    are kept warm by their fur, which is the mammalian standard, whereas we are kept
    warm by our skinfat…”

    As insulation, the layer of fat beneath the skin in humans is inadequate for the task you
    claim for it, it is both too thin and varies too much in thickness to offer insulation in water, for
    anything other than our core body temperature for a brief period. Humans can lose
    body heat up to twenty-four times faster, in water than in their natural habitat.

    Quote #365 “Compare the diving ability of these two critters (and watch their
    bipedalism in water, eh?):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5i1xhq0G2Y
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrXQbucZUDA

    Who has the biggest aquatic potential of these two closely related apes?..”

    Neither, as this piece of research proved.

    Science 2013
    Evolution of Mammalian Diving Capacity Traced by Myoglobin Net Surface Charge
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6138/1234192

    Also extrapolating from the fact that some humans have taught themselves to dive
    to extreme levels proves nothing, other than humans have a remarkable ability to
    learn and exploit what others have learnt down through the generations.

    Moreover, it says nothing about homin evolution to say that because some like
    crawling through deep caves, can master flying a single seat aircraft, or teach
    themselves to dive to extreme depths in water that as a species humans, have
    subterranean, avian or aquatic adaptations.

  365. #367 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 30, 2014

    Quote #366: As insulation, the layer of fat beneath the skin in humans is inadequate for the task you claim for it, it is both too thin and varies too much in thickness to offer insulation in water, for anything other than our core body temperature for a brief period. Humans can lose body heat up to twenty-four times faster, in water than in their natural habitat.

    Which is not a problem in the tropics, humanity’s original climate belt untill 100kya. There the insulation appears to be perfectly balanced in water, while we collapse from heat exhaustion on land. Where we’re fine diving like this:
    http://vimeo.com/7953385

    And flying around in the atmosphere is dependent on inventing a vehicle for this specific task. And we can’t crawl around in cold caves buck naked. In which type of habitat can we all make it without all that technology, even without clothes, if push comes to shove? Which type of habitat did both Columbus and Cook label with the extremely positive and philosophical word “paradise”? Thick jungles? Wide ranges of grasslands? Or tropical archipelagos? Where would you like to live, human?

    It’s just an ethological observation into yourself, ape.

  366. #368 UillF
    March 31, 2014

    #367
    “…Which is not a problem in the tropics, humanity’s original climate belt untill 100kya.
    There the insulation appears to be perfectly balanced in water, while we collapse
    from heat exhaustion on land. Where we’re fine diving like this:
    http://vimeo.com/7953385

    Seriously, a rote answer.
    If you are going to use AAT rote answers, at least get yourself some new ones.
    That one has been around since the time of the dinosaurs.

    #367
    “…And flying around in the atmosphere is dependent on inventing a vehicle for this
    specific task. And we can’t crawl around in cold caves buck naked. In which type
    of habitat can we all make it without all that technology, even without
    clothes, if push comes to shove? …”

    What has the invention of aircraft, got to do with what I wrote?
    In addition, are you seriously suggesting that humans have never crawled buck naked
    into near inaccessible caves, deep underground? What about those in the Palaeolithic
    thousands of years ago, tens of thousands of years ago, who crawled into such deep
    caves to leave paintings on the cave walls, remarkable paintings depicting the animals
    they hunted.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18449711

  367. #369 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    March 31, 2014

    Quote #368: “If you are going to use AAT rote answers, at least get yourself some new ones. That one has been around since the time of the dinosaurs.”

    Those answers still apply. The opposition is not exactly refuting the core AAH arguments. Instead people act as if they haven’t been presented:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KnHGGT1usFU/UpeCMPJMVTI/AAAAAAAAGe0/mjn4xbMaFuw/s320/wise-monkeys.jpg
    .

  368. #370 Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht
    Sverige
    April 11, 2014

    I’d like to think I achieved something here. But I probably didn’t.

  369. #371 marc verhaegen
    https://independent.academia.edu/marcverhaegen
    June 16, 2014

    If Eugène Dubois at the time hadn’t been anthropocentric (as everybody then thinking that human ancestors must have looked half human half ape), the littoral theory could have been clear from the beginning IMO: a platycephalic pachyosteosclerotic skull in deltaic sediments: what else could it be but a slow & shallow littoral (parttime) diver for sessile foods?
    Time for a little update. it’s becoming clearer IMO: schematic hypothesis:
    1) early-Pleistocene archaic Homo dispersed intercontinentally along coasts, deltas & coastal lagoons, eating shellfish (stone tools) & shallow aquatic & waterside plants on the continental shelves (glacials),
    2) mid-Pleistocene Homo (less pachyosteosclerotic) ventured inland along rivers (reduced pachyosteosclerosis), eating a lot of plant food (traces of cattails, waterlily & graminea roots on neandertal tools & in dental calculus),
    3) late-Pleistocene H.sapiens waded for shallow water & waterside foods incl. fish & fowl (isotopic data, loss of pachyosteosclerotic skull, very long legs, body & head held high, strong basi-cranial flexion, eyes directed downward, complex weapons etc.).
    independent.academia.edu/marcverhaegen

  370. #372 Cristobal
    July 5, 2014

    For someone new to the debate, “articles” like this one look desperate. Dripping with sarcasm and obviously fueled by something other than purely scientific motives – you make people wonder. Like my Dad always said, “They always tell on themselves.”

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