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Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (Condor Indep Voices) Paperback – September, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Most Credible Theory of Human Evolution
  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press; New edition edition (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285635182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285635180
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph H Pierre on February 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the second book by Elaine Morgan that I have had the pleasure of reading. The other one was "Scars of Evolution," and both books have been an enlightening experience.

Elaine Morgan is that rarity, a scientist who can write so that the layman can understand.

This book deals with the theory--she calls it merely an hypothesis--that early pre-hominids (our ancestors) went through an aquatic period, when they lived in shallow water, which accounts for our relatively hairless bodies, bipedal stance, subcutaneous layer of fat, eccrine sweat gland system, controllable breathing, downward pointing nostrils and other characteristics that make homo sapiens unique.

She discusses other theories put forward by paleoanthropologists and other scientists respectfully, while discussing their flaws, many of which they themselves acknowledge.

I first heard of the Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT) decades ago, when I first read Desmond Morris's book, "The Naked Ape," in which he mentioned the theory briefly. He apparently believed that our pre-human ancestors dropped out of the receding African arboreal environment, hit the savannah running, and shed their fur as they ran in order to cool off. Of course that does not account for the subcutaneous layer of fat which is more characteristic of aquatic animals like the whale, and which functions to provide both warmth and flotation. The AAT made more sense to me, and I have been on the lookout for this book ever since.

Elaine Morgan does not disappoint. Her careful reasoning is welcome and persuasive. I am delighted with both of her books and shall read her latest with interest.
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Format: Paperback
When I heard Elaine speak at Harvard University in the Spring of 1999, she held the audience in the palm of her hand. Her latest book showcases her ability to present exciting scientific material with facts as well as humor, allowing the reader to experience their own insights and come to their own conclusions about the scientific controversy of human origins. Once categorically dismissed by the scientific establishment, today many scientists and the world's leading paleoanthropologist have indicated support for her work. Many of Elaine's theories on the evolution of homo sapiens and other species (such as the elephant) have been found to contain unforeseen truths. There's a reason why her first work was an international best-seller (The Descent of Woman). Wow, can this author write.
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A thoroughly documented, dispassionate, and compelling argument that the reason we humans are so different from the other apes is because we led a semi-aquatic existence some millions of years ago. From our lack of fur, to our subcutaneous fat, to our descended larynx, there are just too many clues to ignore the Aquatic Ape hypothesis. If you are interested in human origins, or interested in the sea, read this book. Even if you don't agree with everything within, it'll get your neurons whizzing.
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Format: Paperback
A well written science book (a rarity) with an extremely interesting thesis; that the subspecies of ape that humans evolved from were actually in the process of adapting to the sea and that interrupted adaptation is why we are so different from other apes. She presents her theory in easily understood terms and thus allows even the layperson to easily understand her theory. The only problem with the book and the theory is the lack of concrete, physical evidence to back it up. The author's conjecture and reasoning seems sound but then again she is the one presenting it. But that is a very minor complaint, if you're looking for an extremely interesting and well written book on the origin of humanity then I would highly recommend the Aquatic Ape.
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Format: Paperback
People who don't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution have a simple answer to all questions about why humans are markedly different from all other animals - God created everything. To people who believe in Darwin's theory and are interested, the questions pertaining to human evolution are intriguing and controversial. The aquatic ape hypothesis is very controversial within the scientific community but, as the author explains, it deserves serious consideration.

Most of us who believe in Darwin accept that there was once a species of ape living in Africa from which all people are descended as well as all modern apes such as gorillas and chimpanzees. Looking at the modern apes, we can observe some similarities with ourselves but there are also many obvious differences. Those apes are much hairier than us and often spend their time in trees. When they walk on the ground, they generally do so on four legs rather than two. Apes use body language far more than we do, yet our faces are much more expressive than theirs. Our noses are also very different from theirs. There are less obvious but equally important differences such as the location of the larynx. Of course, there are noticeable differences between different species of apes, but they have more in common with each other than any of them do with us.

The author suggests that there may have been a time when our ancestors were forced to adapt to a semi-aquatic lifestyle. On that basis, the likeliest scenario is that we are descended from a group of apes then living in Africa near the Red Sea, maybe around six or seven million years ago. The author doesn't mention the Sahara desert but I know from other sources that it is of more recent origin, maybe three or four million years old, so the region was very different before that.
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