Likely area of language origin

Allan Krill

The diversity of sounds in various languages can be used to trace back to the origin of language. The results point to an African origin of modern human language, and more precisely, a western African origin.  Read this article by Quentin Atkinson. Science 332, 346-349 (2011).
Here is the title, abstract, and Figure 2: 

Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa
Quentin D. Atkinson

Human genetic and phenotypic diversity declines with distance from Africa, as predicted by a serial founder effect in which successive population bottlenecks during range expansion progressively reduce diversity, underpinning support for an African origin of modern humans. Recent work suggests that a similar founder effect may operate on human culture and language. Here I show that the number of phonemes used in a global sample of 504 languages is also clinal and fits a serial founder–effect model of expansion from an inferred origin in Africa. This result, which is not explained by more recent demographic history, local language diversity, or statistical non-independence within language families, points to parallel mechanisms shaping genetic and linguistic diversity and supports an African origin of modern human languages.


Plausible times and areas of African-ape speciations

Allan Krill

There are no mammal fossils of any kind where African great apes currently live. But using DNA to estimate the time of the last common ancestors, we can imagine a plausible sequence of speciation events for Gorilla, Pan, and Homo.

About 15.8 million years ago, some orangutans migrated from SE Asia to Africa where they evolved to become the Eastern gorilla. Their bodies were large because their diet consisted of large quantities of low quality foods. 
About 9.1 million years ago, some Eastern gorillas migrated to the west, where they ate higher quality foods and evolved a smaller body. They became the Western chimpanzee.
About 6.7 million years ago, some chimpanzees rafted to the barren volcanic island of Proto-Biobo. Their diet was marine, and they evolved to become Humans. 

About 3.1 million years ago, some Eastern gorillas migrated to the west, where they lived in the same areas as the chimpanzee. There was no competition, because the gorillas ate larger quantities of lower quality foods.  
About 2.8 million years ago, some chimpanzees became isolated on the south side of the Congo River, where they evolved to become the Bonobo.
About 1.0 million years ago, some chimpanzees migrated to the east, where they lived in the same areas as the gorillas. But there was no competition, because the chimpanzees searched more for higher quality foods.


Timeline for ape and human evolution (Bioko hypothesis)

Allan Krill

The Bioko hypothesis uses the model of punctuated evolution, with speciation (rapid evolution) followed by stasis (minimal evolutionary change).
Arboreal orangutans speciated about 20.2 million years ago in SE Asia and evolved rapidly there. They have not changed much since.
Arboreal gorillas speciated about 15.8 million years ago in Africa and evolved rapidly there. They have not changed much since.
Arboreal chimpanzees speciated about 9.2 million years ago in Africa and evolved rapidly there. They have not changed much since.

Some chimpanzees became isolated on Bioko Island about 6.6 million years ago, where there was no arboreal habitat. They became marine. Within about the first million years, these marine apes probably evolved into marine humans, with advanced language but no clothes, tools, weapons, or fire.

Some humans (Erectus, Denisovan, Neanderthal, Sapiens) migrated from Bioko to the mainland. They invented clothes, tools, weapons, and fire, and some left some fossils. But most humans remained on Bioko until about 70,000-50,000 years ago. At that time they all left, and a wave of humans rapidly populated the entire world migrating along continental margins, which are now submerged because of the present high sea level. 


Humans have 46 chromosomes. Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans all have 48.

Allan Krill

Early in our evolution, a mutant baby was presumably born with a chromosome error in which the 2A and 2B chromosomes of apes were fused to form the long chromosome 2 of humans. This genetic mutation was probably associated with physical traits that made that mutant individual more successful. It produced offspring with similar genes, and eventually the entire population in that area had those mutant traits, and 46 chromosomes instead of 48.

Those traits would probably not have made arboreal apes more successful. If a chimpanzee is born with a significant mutation in the forest of Africa, that chimp will probably have no offspring and the mutation will be lost. However, in the case of humans, the genes and traits of chromosome 2 were presumably advantageous in the postulated marine habitat of Bioko. It is easy to see that human traits — bald body, longer legs, reduced canine teeth, subcutaneous fat, larger head and brain, weaker muscles — would not help a mutant chimpanzee be more successful in the African forest. 

This article explains the chromosome fusion that took place in human evolution. It suggests that geneticists study chromosome 2 near the fusion. It points out that genes involving human brains and gonads are near the join and were likely affected by the fusion.

(Thanks Annika, for sending me this article!)


Humans can eat sea-turtle meat without the need for fire or tools

Allan Krill

A family adrift at sea survived by eating raw sea-turtle meat. Sea turtles are easy to catch and kill, so their numbers have dwindled in the past century. Therefore it is not allowed to eat sea-turtle meat in most countries in the world today. We can imagine that our human ancestors lived on Bioko for several million years, where they ate mostly seaweed and turtle meat without ever inventing tools or fire.

Chimpanzees could have rafted to Bioko on an entire floating island

Allan Krill

Thanks to Terry Turner and Bernard Harper for these tips about rafting monkeys. Upright trees and turf with monkeys and other animals have been observed floating down rivers and into the sea. This is how the founding Green iguanas may have come to the Galapagos, and the founding Chimpanzees may have come to Bioko, when they were barren volcanic islands with no forest foods.


Haplogroup A00 might reflect a ghost-DNA population that once lived on Bioko

Allan Krill

Allan Krill

Updated page now moved to

Where, when, & why did humans originate?

The earliest human DNA ('Y-DNA Adam') and language (Khoi-San with 'clicks'are in western Africa, from about 200,000 years ago. But how could domesticated and anatomically modern humans (people, not apes) have evolved in Africa, without leaving an older fossil record of their history?  Where was the large early population with 'ghost DNA' actually living?  

I think humans evolved on Bioko Island in a Galapagos-like scenario: 

Chimpanzees live in western Africa where there are no fossils of any mammal, because the bones decay too fast. About 6 million years ago, a few chimps may have rafted to the new volcanic islands of Proto-Bioko. There were no trees and no large predators. The only food was marine: seaweeds, shellfish, crabs, sea-turtle eggs and sea-turtle meat. Hundreds of huge turtles visit the beaches each night to lay eggs. The apes had marine food all year, and rain nearly every day.

Those marine apes became human, probably within the first million years: they evolved a bald body, blubber, large brain from a marine diet, a human nose, descended larynx for diving (and speech), multipyramidal kidneys for excess salt, hidden estrus, and other uniquely human traits. The marine selection pressures can explain all the differences between humans and chimpanzees.

For the next 5 million years, I envision a population of 1000 to 10,000 naked marine humans living on Bioko, mostly in the saltwater. They developed advanced language, sang about turtles, shared food. Bioko is warm and cloudy. They had no need to invent fire, or clothes, shoes, tools, or weapons. About 20 to 200 people died each year and their bodies were respectfully buried at sea.

Some of the humans (Homo erectus, Neanderthals, etc.) got over to the mainland and left fossils. Most stayed on Bioko until 200,000 to 50,000 years ago, then walked over on the Pleistocene land bridge. They invented clothing, weapons, and fire — needed to survive in Africa and Eurasia. 

This paradigm of an isolated marine habitat can cut the 'Gordian knot' of human evolution. But thousands of scientific careers are dedicated to 'untying' that knot, so no one wants it to be 'cut'.

Allan Krill, Ph.D.            Read Krill's Anthropogeny blog for details.       See also

The 'Not-our-hypothesis' (NOH) syndrome

Allan Krill

There is sometimes a tendency in computer programming to not be interested in developments that were invented by competitors. This is called the Not-invented-here syndrome. There is a similar tendency in science: researchers generally do not want to work with a competitors' hypotheses. "That's their hypothesis, we're not going to help them test or develop it." I think we can call this the 'Not-our-hypothesis' syndrome.  

As T. C. Chamberlain explained in 1890 scientists often have 'parental affection' for the hypotheses they use. In the interest of efficiency, scientists typically choose to avoid Chamberlain's recommendation of using 'multiple working hypotheses'. 

In the history of the aquatic ape hypothesis, none of the originators or promoters were paleoanthropologists. 
Alister Hardy (1960) was a marine biologist.
Carl O. Sauer (1962) was a geographer.
Desmond Morris (1967) is a zoologist.
Elaine Morgan (1972) was a feminist script writer. 

Any discussion of the unorthodox aquatic hypothesis would only distract and detract from the work of leading paleoanthropologists. It was not their hypothesis. 

The attitude of paleoanthropologists still seems to be: "If this had been true, one of us would have thought of it."
(Graham Richards 1991: The refutation that never was: the reception of the aquatic ape theory, 1972-1987, in Roede, et al. The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction?)


Where on Earth could naked humans survive?

Allan Krill

Where could a single family or a thousand families survive for ten years without clothes, fire, weapons or tools? One of those places might be where bald-bodied humans evolved.

The place would have to be nice and warm, day and night, all year round. It would need a constant food supply, and fresh drinking water every day of the year. It should have no strong sun that heats and burns naked human skin. It would have to be free of large predators, such as wolves, hyenas, big cats, and crocodiles. 

The only place I can find in or near Africa, is Bioko. That large island happens to be near to where chimpanzees and gorillas live, and where haplogroup A00—the earliest Y-DNA—is found. But because there are no fossils in western Africa or Bioko, paleoanthropologists are not interested in that part of the world.

An ice skater is interested in places with ice, a swimmer is interested in places with water, and a paleoanthropologist is interested in places with fossils. The study of human origins should again be designated anthropogeny, as it was in the 1800s, not paleoanthropology as it is now called.


Knuckle-walking topic initiated by Elaine Morgan on AAT discussion group (May 7, 2012)

Allan Krill

Chimpanzees and gorillas are quadrupedal, walking on four legs. Their hands land on their knuckles, not their palms. Orangutans sometimes walk on their knuckles also.

Elaine and most primatologists think that knuckle-walking is a primitive trait — that the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimps, and humans was a knuckle-walker, and then the human branch evolved to became bipedal. 

Marc Verhaegen has a different version: the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimps, and humans was bipedal. The gorilla-branch and chimp-branch then evolved independently to be knuckle-walking quadrupeds, while the human-branch remained bipedal. 

Elaine Morgan wanted to discuss the pros and cons of that topic, without arguing too much with Marc about it. So she initiated the thread 'Knuckle-walking' in the AAT discussion group on May 6, 2012, and discussed it mostly with her fictional characters Rob Dudman and m3dodds (Bill) for the next month. These were the last messages in which Elaine posted messages under her own name. After that, she only posted messages as Rob Dudman and m3dodds (Bill).

This thread Knuckle-walking is copied from this address:

Elaine Morgan's messages at the Aquatic Ape Theory discussion site

Allan Krill

In December 2021 I discovered that Elaine Morgan had posted over 5000 messages on the discussion site She posted most of these messages under the pseudonyms 'Rob Dudman' and 'Bill' in the years 2004 until her death in 2013. She also posted a few messages under her own name. 

'Bill' (alias 'm3d' alias 'm3dodds') posted 2992 messages from August 24, 2004 to June 30, 2013. 'Rob Dudman' posted messages (difficult to count) from Nov 2, 2004 to June 22, 2013.

Elaine suffered a stroke in February 2012. While she was recovering, there were no posts by 'Elaine' (Jan 31 - May 5); no posts by 'Bill m3dodds' (Feb. 16 - May 6); no posts by 'Rob Dudman' (Dec. 24 - May 10). After she recovered she kept posting messages until she died at the age of 92 on July 12, 2013. There is a youtube video of her, 60 days before she died. She is her clear-headed sharp-witted self. She is holding a pen, ready to take notes on a notebook in front of her. 

Elaine had been a script writer for BBC in the 1950s and 1960s. She enjoyed writing fictional dialogs and she was good at it. She had fun contributing to this AAT discussion site without most readers knowing of her involvement. She strongly opposed many of Marc Verhaegen's 'aquarboreal' interpretations and she wanted to avoid displaying their personal disagreements. 'Rob' and 'Bill' (or 'm3dodds') sometimes played devil's advocate for each other and for Elaine. That enabled her to debate Marc's views, and other opponents' views, and guide readers to journal articles and other information that she wanted to be included in the discussions.

In her book The Naked Darwinist (2008) Elaine expressed the idea of publishing opposing views of a debate using fictional characters "rather than let the whole debate be effectively gagged":

For a period of five years, New Scientist accepted articles from me about different aspects of the theory, at the rate of about one a year, until they received complaints that this was an unacceptably one-sided policy since they never printed articles critical of it. They said that was a fair criticism and returned my latest piece saying they could not accept any more unless and until some opponents of the theory chose to voice their views. I knew that would never happen - they had learned by experience that silence is golden. I rang up and offered to write some stringent attacks on AAT myself, under a pseudonym, rather than let the whole debate be effectively gagged. They thought not. I cannot blame them for not collaborating in such a subterfuge. It was many years ago and the ban has long since been lifted or forgotten.

Here are links to the 2992 messages by 'm3dodds' ('Bill'). Most of the messages are discussions between 'Bill' and her other fictional character 'Rob Dudman.'  Because of the messaging technology, it  is complicated to understand who is supposed to be writing in the dialogs. But, both 'Rob' and 'Bill' are Elaine, and there is a lot of interesting and useful information here: 

All of Allan's messages at the AAT-group from 2020 - 2021

Allan Krill

I think I am about to be expelled from the discussion at The monitors, and several others, would like to be rid of me. They don't want to hear more about Bioko Apes. That model competes with their favored models. And I keep pointing out faults with their views of things. 

The 'straw that broke the apes' back' was my message #73154. There I exposed my discovery that thousands  of messages on that web side were actually written by Elaine Morgan.

Here are links to all of my messages at the AAT-group discussion site.


Allan Krill

(This seems to be the first scientific publication of AAT, and the first to use the term 'aquatic ape theory'. I'm surprised that it is not better known. Allan)

S.C. Cunnane. 
Clinical Research Institute, 110 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada H2W lR7 

Medical Hypotheses 6, 49-58, 1980


Hardy's Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT) proposes that man progressed phylogenetically to the two-legged hairless creature that he is today via a semi-aquatic diversion which probably began during the Pliocene or perhaps as early as the Miocene era. It revolutionizes the human evolutionary story and in the process, challenges the classical anthropoid theory which has been the dominant theory of evolution since the time of Darwin. Possible reasons for the existance of many of man's previously unexplained characteristics (bipedalism, hairlessness, subcutaneous fat, bradycardia and others) is resolved without the proposal of any new or unreasonable hypotheses. Yet teh AAT has been largely ignored. Morris and Morgan have supported the theory in the face of considerable criticism. This paper is a review of the theory and a collection of some of the opposing views presented by contemporary orthodox evolutionists. 


Hardy's Aquatic Ape Theory (1) attempts to account for the absence of a fossil record between Proconsul and Australopithecus a period during which the world climate changed drastically from the mild Miocene to the hot, dry Pliocene epoch. Ape-like forms present at the time must have been under tremendous evolutionary pressure, so it would have been quite reasonable if the road to survival was temporarily diverted to a sea or shore-based life. Hardy based part of his arguments for man's aquatic past on the fact that as animals slowly terrestrialized, rapid proliferation resulted in many animals being forced to search the shores and shallow waters for food. Inevitably, some of them including modern-day water snakes, crocodiles, turtles, whales, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs, manatees, seals (partially), polar bears, otters, water voles, water shrews, duck-billed platypuses, penguins, and many extinct species, notably the great ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, returned to a water environment permanently or semi-permanently. Others, such as the pig, hippopotamus, and elephant have, like man, reterrestrialized but retained a number of the characteristics they developed while living in or near the water.  

Hardy acknowledged that Hominidae (.early man and his ancestors) and Pongidae (anthropoid apes) both had an arboreal ancestor. However, the crucial point which for the most point is entirely overlooked, is that part of this ancestral stock could have been forced "by competition from life in the trees to feed on the seashores to hunt for food: shell fish, sea urchins, etc., in the shallow waters off the coast" (2). He assumed that this would occur as naturally and successfully in early man as it did in the other groups cited. Adaptation to a sea or shore-based life probably started with wading and progressed to swimming and possibly diving for crabs, shellfish and other food sources on the sea bottom. 


The theory clarifies the existance of a number of man's features which are inadequately explained by other modern theories: 

1. Humans have a remarkable ability to swim. Their complete dominance over other terrestrial mammals in learning how to swim on and below the surface and their subtle flexibility in the water are prime examples. 

2. Humans have lost most of their body hair, a loss which is characteristic of aquatic mammals. Fur has been maintained in semi-aquatic mammals (polar bears, seals, beavers) that live in temperate or cold climates for the occasions during which the animal is on land. 

3. The retention of head hair is likely due to its vital function as a protection against the suns rays. Two possible reasons for hair loss in aquatic mammals are: the subsequent reduction of resistance during swimming, and once wet, the loss of its original function of keeping the body warm by acting as a poor heat conductor. 

4. The hair tracts on the human body differ considerably from those on apes. Particularly different are those on the back which in man are all directed towards the midline. This is the same direction as water would pass in going around the body while swimming. Thus, before their complete loss, hair tracts would have become organised into patterns of least resistance to water flow. 

5. The presence of subcutaneous fat notably distinguishs man from the other primates. This was the key characteristic which initiated Hardy's hypothesis. Subcutaneous fat is also found in whales, seals and penguins. It appears to function in replacing the hair lost by the warm-blooded aquatic mammals. Hardy noted that the presence of sweat glands in man (where they are more numerous than in most mammals), would allow him to retain the subcutaneous fat eyen in a tropical environment and permit excessive heat loss when necessary. 

6. Humans have retained primitive unspecialized hands while the modern apes have specialized their hands and feet for swinging and hanging. The chimpanzees have specialized in knucklewalking. The latter two groups have arms longer than legs which is opposite to what is found in humans. An explanation is that man may have left the trees considerably earlier than the chimpanzees, and used his feet for walking and hands for feeding. He probably began toddling in shallow water (as do the Japanese monkeys which are trained to feed in the sea). Once in the water, he would have found that much of the body weight was supported and balance was easier to maintain, Having these advantages, progress to efficient walking on land would have been considerably quickened by having taken the diversion through the water. Three advantages become apparent if man evolved via a sea-based stage: he would have quickly gained his balance for bipedal locomotion, he would have had a good food supply, and he would have had a quick escape route from carnivorous predators. 

7. In close relation to the mastery of efficient bipedalism was the retention of the curiously primitive human hand, especially the fingertips, are extremely sensitive. Human hands, especially the finThis development might be explained by the early use of the hands for groping on the seafloor and distinguishing between rocks and shellfish which were probably the primary source of food. Just as the California sea otter does today, humans probably used pebbles to crack open the shellfish. It would have been very simple to learn to use primitive tools on the seashore where by trial and error, the problem of opening their hardshelled seafood could be approached. The progression from the use of seashore pebbles as tools to the efficient use of flints as weapons would then have been a natural, simple step. At this point, probably with the ability to make and control fire, to reinhabit the land. humans would have been prepared 

8. Hardy's concluding point pertained to the relatively sudden appearance of man's permanent fossil record during the Pleistocene. If he did have an aquatic phase this would satisfactorily account for the absence of fossils prior to this period. 


Morris is the only known zoologist to have seriously considered the merits of the AAT and evaluated them objectively. in the Naked Ape (3) but appeared skeptical. He initially referred to the AAT At that time he remained with the orthodox view of man's evolution. Subsequently, he has reversed his position (4), and suggested that although the evidence is still largely speculative, too many of man's characteristics fit an 'aquatic mold' to all be coincidental. He supported Hardy on all the major points. Referring to the function of the human nose and buttocks as postulated by other authors, he was doubtful of an aquatic origin being necessarily involved. The outstanding points mentioned which add significantly to the AAT are the development in man of complex verbal speech and the presence of the physiological mechanism known as bradycardia. Along with the decline in the sense of smell in man, these characteristics are discussed at greater length elsewhere in this paper. He concluded that it remains up to the palaeontologists to settle the controversy unequivocally but the balance of the accumulated evidence is in favour of an aquatic phase in man's evolution. 


Morgan (5) has added a number of useful points which also strengthen the AAT. Implicit to Morgan's argument is her contention that the climate of the Pliocene was much more arid and devastating than is generally suggested by most authors. The climate was severe enough that on the entire African continent no prehuman Pliocene fossil has ever been found. This contrasts considerably with the mention of savanna, grassland, and forest islands described by classical evolutionists. Morgan's other points include: 

1. Most early tools are generally considered to have been fashioned from pebbles. Because wave and sand action are required to round them, pebbles are rarely formed anywhere but on the seashore. It is very reasonable therefor, that tool-crafting may have begun on the seashore. 

2. A number of diving mammals such as the seal, beaver, coypu, and whale have a physiological mechanism known as bradycardia (the diving reflex) which acts to slow heart rate and reduce oxygen consumption by tissues other than the heart and brain during a dive. This mechanism allows the animal to stay submerged longer than would otherwise be possible. Terrestrial vertebrates with the distinct exception of man do not possess this feature (6). In man, submersion of the face alone, particularly in infants, dramatically e'licits the reduction of heart rate and respiration. 

3. Morgan suggested that the retention of head hair was due to the need of a free-floating baby to hang onto something particularly when it came time to suckle from the breast. The development of thicker hair during pregnancy adds weight to this idea. The sex-linked loss of hair during balding in the male could be attributed to lack of need. 

4. With the proposed aquatic adaptation and resulting loss of fur, there would have been nothing for a baby to grasp onto while suckling. Larger breasts in the female and nipples which were located lower would thus become advantageous in the baby's feeding. This feature would have easily arisen because subcutaneous fat was slowly accumulating in most of the rest of the torso. The fat, which would have increased the size of the breasts had the advantage of protecting the fragile sub-tissue, preventing cooling of the milk, and storing nutrients. The only other non-human female with breasts comparable to the human female's is the aquatic group of sea cows. 

5. The observation by Basler (7) that about 7% of all schoolchildren have webbing between their second and third toes, and in a few between all the toes, is suggestive of a vestigial aquatic function. Besides humans only the elephant amoung land mammals has interphalangeal webbing. It, too, is thought to have had an ancestral aquatic phase evolving parallel to humans. The thumb-forefinger webbing in man presumeably never developed further because it was more valuable for it to remain prehensile. 

6. The shape of the human nose contrasts considerably with that of the Catarrhine monkeys (narrow partition between the nostrils) and the Platyrrhine monkeys (nostrils further apart). The development of the cartilaginous bridge over the nostrils may have helped prevent salt water from entering the nose during swimming and diving. However, as Morris noted (4), the human nose is rather inefficient for this purpose. 

7. Many of the human expressions - anger, yawning, defiance, smiling, grining, trembling and teeth-baring may be correlated with the emotions. This is also true in other primates. However, one expression - frowning, is different and peculiar only to humans. Darwin explained this unique feature as having arisen to protect against the over-engorgement of the eyes with blood during screaming. Alternatively, the significantly increased reflection of the sun off the water as compared to the dim light of the forests, would induce frowning as a reflex, protective measure. 

8. The fact that humans are the only primates capable of producing tears suggests that this physiological adaptation parallels that found in marine birds, crocodiles and sea snakes. Thus, it is quite possible that as in other weeping mammals, birds, and reptiles, man developed this trait as a maritime primate. 

9. Alone amoung the primates, humans appear to have developed extensive verbal communication in favor of the sense of smell. As in the present day aquatic mammals speech appears to have taken over the sense of smell which is the primary sense of communication and perception of the lower mammals, reptiles and amphibians. 

10. Early birds and primates both had the problem of living above the ground where winds would blow scents away before they could be usefully interpreted. Both these groups exchanged their sense of smell for improved vision. As a result only the birds and primates amoung the higher chordates have developed colour vision. 

With reference to these last two points, if orthodox theory was correct, i.e. that early humans decended directly to the plains, their olfactory sense would have logically improved, not become inferior, as it has. The sense of smell is retained in lower primates, only for perception of highly specific details of the environment. In humans even this function of smell has been increasingly rejected for the more accurate and efficient visual and verbal communication. Furthermore, the sense of smell is virtually useless near water which would also help explain the decline of this function. 

It seems likely that during the birth of verbal communication in the primates, the use of vision played a primary role. On land visual and olfactory senses have proven adequate for virtually all communication required by any of the animal groups. However, with the intervention of a dramatic environmental change, verbal communication would have rapidly become an important feature in the behavioral repertoire and as such would have become integrated into the natural selection process. The result was that speech, as the truly diverse means of communication, played a very important role in moulding the most intelligent animal to be. 

With the advent of the Pleistocene age the earth's climate presumeably became more hospitable. It was at this time that humans would have begun moving inland to river and lake side settlements. Use of flintstone instead of the now unavailable pebbles, settlement in areas where there were caves (such as are often found near the seaside) and covering the cave floors with furs and straws would all have been natural steps for man during this transition period. Bones would have again begun appearing in fossils. "And we came back sea-changed and different: upright, bare-skinned, omnivorous, tool-using, in the first stages of recovering from the biological emergency, and in the first stage of true verbal communication" (8). 


Up to this point the arguments advocating the AAT, as described by Hardy, Morris, and Morgan have been presented. What follows is a consideration of the opposing arguments. First of all it should be noted that the literature contains scanty reference to Hardy or the AAT. Virtually none of man's features suggested by Hardy to indicate an aquatic evolutionary history are even mentioned by modern-day evolutionists. The discussion that is found is centered on bipedalism, tool-making ability and the loss of hair. Features such as bradycardia, hair tracts, tear secretion and the lack of Pliocene fossils are not described. With the aquatic theory as a comparison, one realises that generally inadequate explanations for the development of bipedalism and nakedness are given elsewhere. However, since we have become used to the idea that man became a great plains hunter by descent from the trees, most of us find it hard to accept that man might have achieved his uniqueness via another perhaps more modest route, especially the sea. 

Evolutionists have not failed to mention the known facts, i.e. that human ancestors were arboreal, that they are now bipedal and terrestrial, or that there is a large gap in the fossil record, but generally speaking they have failed to suggest explanations for the existance of these phenomena logically. For instance, LeGros Clark, who was aware of the 'Pliocene gap' in fossil evidence mentioned that "Nor have any artificially fabricated implements been convincingly shown to have been of earlier date" (9). Shultz, in Howell's book (lo), noted the major human distinctions as a species: early, rapid acquisition of erect posture, later, gradual increase in cranial capacity and recently increased life expectancy. Leakey (11) mentioned that he did not think that there was a "true anthropoid ape" bridging the gap between the Hominids and Pongids. The vital questions - was there parallel evolution of man and the apes? or, why did man come to the ground in the first place? remain undiscussed. 

Morgan suggested that the Pliocene climate was too arid to maintain an evolving animal group for very long. Early man probably would not have been able to stay on in this extreme climate. In effect, she suggested that the Pliocene might have been a 10 million year period of drought. This opinion is not respected by too many other authors. Rather, descriptions such as deforestation and reduction in rainfall causing new ecological changes (12), and an environment ranging from dry grassland to open, wooded savanna (13) are found. Based on this difference of opinion, discrepancies in explanations have followed. Poirier (13) suggested that desert or semi-arid conditions had set in but he felt that 'forest islands' must have remained. Climatic studies of this time do not support either side in particular but this is obviously an important point. 

The gap in the hominid fossil record is classically explained in a variety of ways. As an example, Delfgaauw (14) referred to Teilhard de Chardin's 'law of the missing peduncles' - that in evolutionary terms, there is always a disappearance of every beginning of a new animal group. When, as a result of a mutation, a new species of creatures appears at first its numbers are very small. The chance of one of them being preserved as a fossil is consequently very remote. Only when the species is numerous and widely distributed is there a possibility of uncovering a fossil speciman. Therefore, according to Delfgaauw, it is for this reason that early fossils of man have never been found. The weakness here is that mans tentative beginning must have taken 10 million years, considerably longer than he has taken to become fully established. 

Direct mention of the AAT by some sources has occurred. Its popularity has varied from bad to worse. Napier introduced some scathing comments with the remark that the AAT was "splendid but somewhat speculative". He went on to describe the theory as the "aquatic origin of man", adding that "Sir Alister, unwittingly , was credited as the founder of a new theory of human evolution". He continued with, "(the theory) would, at the same time, have favored retention of head hair to keep the sun from burning a hole in his head" (15). Napier noted that the AAT would require humans learning to swim, (nowhere mentioned by Hardy), which would not have been difficult judging by the ease with which they do it today. "Neither, of course, does the 'aquatic ape' theory explain the retention of hair in certain parts of the body" (16). Hardy does have a possible explanation for the existance of axillary hair, described in a more recent publication (17). Napier concluded that "no doubt e.. a fishing society could have been an important factor in the life of early man" (18). 

Poirier mentioned that there were a number of theories of human evolution, including Tarsoid, Brachiator, Serological, "and finally, for diversity's sake, the aquatic theory" (19). The other theories receive good discussion, wheras Hardy's name is not even mentioned in association with the aquatic theory. "A final suggestion that we mention is not, at least at this stage, to be taken as a serious possibility. This highly ingenious (and unlikely) theory _.. what is the evidence in support of this theory? None of importance that I know of . . . the aquatic theory is merely an oddity" (20). In a more recent publication, Poirier (21) maintained his earlier view, without revising the wording. "A final suggestion to be mentioned is not, at least at this stage, to be taken as a serious possibility . . . this highly ingenious (and unlikely) idea . . . is merely an oddity (22). 

Straus, in reference to T.H. Huxley described him as the "godfather, if not the father, of the anthropoid theory of man's origin . . . he was a master of English prose, and his statements carried, and in most quarters still carry a tremendous weight . . . his concept . . . remains the orthodox one . . . In fact, in one form or another, this anthropoid ape theory has been so often and so continuously exposited and propagandized that it has become almost a fundemental tenet of biological and particularly, anthropological belief, a sort of canon or article of faith" (23). Such strong opinions, which in this case appear to be based more on the qualities of the man (Huxley) than on his theory, are quite common in the anthropological literature. 

LeGros Clark (24) observed that aquatic vertebrates initially acquired terrestrial locomotory and air breathing mechanisms in order to maintain their aquatic mode of life. He reasoned that during times of drought these mechanisms would assist in escaping overland from dried up water bodies to those which were not so. He saw this as being analagous to the Hominids abandoning arboreal life during a much later period and becoming mobile on the grasslands specifically in order to seek out other habitable forest areas. However, for this to have occurred, he assumed that a very specific type of climate must have existed during the dry Pliocene period. Furthermore, this does not explain why man is not arboreal now. 

In the use of rocks as weapons it has been argued that humans learned to throw them in much the same way as chimpanzees do. This is an example of the facts being misconstrued to fit the theory. What is fact is that caged chimpanzees do learn to throw objects when irritated. What is also fact is that free-ranging chimpanzees do not throw rocks as a means of displaying aggression. Thus it is only while caged that chimpanzees have the artificial opportunity to practice and be rewarded in the development of this highly complicated, unnatural skill. Early humans, whether on the grasslands (where, incidently, one rarely finds rocks) or on the seashore where rocks and pebbles are plentiful, probably would not have had the time to accurately throw a rock at a predator as an instantaneous defensive move. They would have had the time to run into the water where most predators do not go. 

Montagu observed that man frequently gathered fish and tortoises from the water. He noted that "Great quantities of the remains of tortoises, catfish, relatively easy to catch and aquatic birds were found .., indicating that at this stage these early men had not yet progressed to the gathering and killing of the juveniles of larger animals" (25). Alternatively, if living near water, these animals and fish would have been man's natural prey. 

Napier (26), in discussing body hair, stated that pubic, chest and facial hair denoted sexual maturity. Also, differences in the amount present conveyed information about masculinity or femininity. He continued, "The hairlessness of Homo Sapiens was claimed by Charles Darwin to be a cooling device and this still seems to be the most likely explnation" (27). He suggested that the cooling effect of sweating "was the critical factor in the selection of hairlessness in early man-the-hunter" (28). However, the subcutaneous fat man possesses serves exactly the opposite function. Thus, without sweat glands, man might as well have retained his hair. 

Classical evolutionists have often referred to sex-linked characterization. As Napier explained, the localization of hair on the front of the body "is in accord with current views of the significance of the face-to-face copulatory position which appears to biologically ancient in man" (29). This, he felt, was supported by the fact that the sexually-signalling organs; the lips, breasts, genitalia, and many errogenous zones are on the front of the body. Why then was it adaptively significant for man to start copulating face-to-face when all the other mammals have retained the dorso-ventral method throughout their evolution? 

Plibeam (30) recognised that the human female was unique among the primates in her possession of prominant breasts. He suggested that their presence indicated permanent sexual maturity. In addition he maintained that the female reproductive cycle changed from being cyclical to continous as a result of the need to remain continuously receptive to the male in order to strengthen the pair-bond. The development of polyestrousness or continuous fertility is poorly understood at best, so the mention of the pair-bond is really only a blanket. 


Morgan suggested an aquatic phase for some other animals whose evolutionary development has always been one of conjecture, She referred in detail to the elephant and hippopotamus; the former on the basis of its immense size, hairlessness, trunk, intelligence, longevity, tusks, and salty tears, and the latter on the basis of i.ts large size, hairlessness, inadquate legs (for terrestrial locomotion only), subcutaneous fat and snout. 

A couple of other authors have discussed these two animals as well and made some interesting comparisons between them and aquatic mammals. LeBarre (31) mentioned the elephant in connection with the whale, porpoise, and dolphin, noting that they are all bigger than their terrestrial counterparts. He observed that the elepheant was unlike most mammals but similar to man with respect to the long dependency of the young on the parents, and to its longevity. It is significant that he came this far towards mantioning the possibility of a common aquatic phase in the ancestry of elephants and aquatic mammals but did not discuss any of the features which would have more positively suggested this idea. Bouliere (32) noted that the elephant was polyestrous, a condition approaching the continuous receptivity of the human female. He also noted that the longevity of the hippopotamus is surpassed only by that of the elephant and man. 


The similarities between present-day humans and aquatic mammals (bradycardia, subcutaneous fat, hairlessness, interdigital webbing, poor sense of smell, and generally high intelligence) are too close to exclude a more proximal relationship than is presently accepted by current anthropological theory. There is insufficient evidence at this time to call the aquatic theory more than an hypothesis. Its main virtue is that the existance of so many of man's anatomical and physiological features are put into perspective without any contradictory suggestions concerning his phylogeny. It may be difficult, if not impossible to unequivocally establish the theory, but that is not so much the point; if we are interested in learning more about our evolutionary niche the aquatic ape theory is a valuable step towards that goal. 


1. Hardy A. Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? The New Scientist 7: 642, 1960. 
2. Hardy A. p. 642 in Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? The New Scientist 7: 642, 1960. 
3. Morris D. The Naked Ape. Jonathan Cape, London, 1967. 
4. Morris D. Man-Watching. Jonathan Cape, London, 1967. 
5. Morgan E. The Descent of Woman. Bantam, New York, 1973. 
6. Andersen HT. Physiological Adaptations in Diving Vertebrates. Physiological Reviews 46: 212, 1966. 
7. Morgan E. p. 36 in The Descent of Woman. Bantam, New York, 1973. 
8. Morgan E. p. 160 in The Descent of Woman. Bantam, New York, 1973. 
9. LeGros Clark WE. p. 175 in The Fossil Evidence for Human Evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1967. 
10. Howells WW. Ideas on Human Evolution. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1962. 
11. Leakey LSB. The Progress and Evolution of Man in Africa. Oxford University Press, New York, 1961. 
12. Montagu A. The Human Revolution. Bantam, New York, 1965. 
13. Poirier FE. Fossil Man. An Evolutionary Journey, CV Mosby, St.Louis, 1965. 
14. Delfgaauw B. Evolution. The Theory of Teilhard de Chardin. Harper and Row, New York, 1965. 
15. Napier J. p. 146 in The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
16. Napier J. p. 147 in The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
17. Hardy A. Was There a Homo Aquaticus? Zenith 15: 4, 1977. 
18. Napier J. p. 147 in The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
19. Poirier FE. p. 69 in Fossil Man. An Evolutionary Journey. CV Mosby, St. Louis, 1965. 
20. Poirier FE. p. 80 in Fossil Man. An Evolutionary Journey. CV Mosby, St. Louis, 1965. 
21. Poirier FE. Fossil Evidence. The Human Evolutionary Journey. 2nd ed. CV Mosby, St. Louis, 1977.
22. Poirier FE. p. 310 in Fossil Evidence. The Human Evolutionary Journey. 2nd ed. CV Mosby, St. Louis, 1977. 
23. Howells WW. .p. 73 in Ideas on Human Evolution. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1962. 
24. LeGros Clark WE. p. 186 in The Fossil Evidence for Human Evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1967. 
25. Montagu A. p. 45 in The Human Revolution. Bantam, New York, 1965. 
26. Napier J. The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
27. Napier J. p. 145 in The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
28. Napier J. p. 145 in The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
29. Napier J. p. 146 in The Roots of Mankind. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1970. 
30. Pilbeam D. The Ascent of Man. An Introduction to Human Evolution. Mcmillan, New York, 1972. 
31. LeBarre W. The Human Animal. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1968. 
32. Bouliere F. The Natural History of Mamals, AA Knopf, New York, 1967. 58

Marine Apes

Allan Krill

I think human ancestors lost their arboreal habitat in exactly the same way that Galapagos iguanas did. They are called 'marine iguanas', not 'aquatic iguanas'. So I will stop using the term 'aquatic apes' and start referring to our aquatic ancestors as 'marine apes,' which became 'marine humans'. 

Rivers and lakes could not have been the environment of our aquatic human ancestors. There is not enough food in rivers and lakes, because fish are too difficult for apes to catch. Lake-and-river food does not have enough omega-3 and iodine for brain evolution. Lakes and rivers would not provide reproductive isolation from other apes. Lakes are not geologically stable over millions of years — they either fill up with sediment or dry up at times. And there are too many crocodiles and large predators patrolling lakes and rivers.

I think our ancestors must have been marine. 

Proto-human language probably had complex grammar and syntax

Allan Krill

There are currently about 5000 languages spoken in the world, and a third of them are in Africa. Human language probably originated there, and relatively few languages were 'exported' to other continents.

Small clusters of hunter-gatherers would have been able to invent simple language, but not sophisticated language with grammar and syntax. There must have been one or more densely populated places in Africa, where people were actively engaged in talking. But there is no fossil evidence for such a large concentrated population. I think that is because the people were on beaches, which are now submerged.

If a beach area had a large and reliable food supply, hundreds of people could live on the sand or in the water. And what do modern beach-goers do all day? They talk, and listen to words and songs. That's how I think human language first evolved.  

It is said that societal evolution went through 5 stages: 1. Hunting/gathering, 2. Horticultural/pastoral, 3. Agricultural, 4. Industrial, 5. Postindustrial. 
But I think human language suggests there was an earlier stage: 0. Early-human discourse.

I think the first people were crowded tightly together in the water near large beaches, talking and singing most of the day using a proto-human language. It was an easy life, and they freely shared their food (sea-turtle meat and seaweed), genes, thoughts, and feelings throughout the large semiaquatic crowd. Their main activity was talking and singing for entertainment and for status. Stage 0 could be called Talking heads, since peoples' heads were sticking up above the water.

When outcasts and explorers successfully migrated to more dangerous and difficult places on the mainland, they invented clothing, weapons, and fire. They became (1.) Hunter/gatherers and then (2.) Horticulturals/pastorals in new lands. Each small group began with the proto-human language with its sophisticated grammar, and then added new vocabularies, evolving new languages.

Talking was still valued in the new languages -- not only what was said, but how it was said. 

Looking for a 'ghost modern' population of human ancestors

Allan Krill

In a 2020 article in Nature, scientists reported on the DNA of human skeletons buried on mainland Africa near Bioko (their blue star). They detected 'ghost modern' genes, and wondered where this large population of 'ghost modern' humans could have lived. Maybe it was in the blue shaded area north of current chimpanzee habitats? But there are no living descendants of those ghost modern humans.

From their possible blue-shaded origin, some modern humans migrated to southern Africa (1, shaded red). Some migrated to eastern Africa and then populated the entire globe (2, shaded orange and yellow arrow). Others stayed close by (3 grey).

Why the multiregional model is 'extinct' in peer-reviewed scientific journals

Allan Krill

This article in 2016 nicely explains current scientific interpretations of human genetic diversity.

It is based on three articles in Nature (2015-2016):

The first split was between Chimp and Hominin lineages:

Two questions to think about

Allan Krill

If a population of chimps evolved in an isolated aquatic habitat with no predators for a million years, wouldn't they become just like humans?

No fossils of a chimp or any other mammal have ever been found in the chimp range of central western Africa... 
If humans evolved there without a single fossil being formed, wouldn't paleontologists claim that fossils in arid places are significant, so they have fossil material to work with?

An 'Aquatic-ape' stage and a 'Free-sharing floater' stage in human prehistory

Allan Krill


Early humans lived a Hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They must have evolved from apes that lived an Arboreal gatherer lifestyle. But between these two stages in human development, other stages must have gone unrecorded. During those stages, the apes became bipedal waders and runners, and their babies became buoyant swimmers. They lost body fur, lost threatening canine teeth, lost ape strength, and lost estrus signals that all land mammals have. They evolved blubber, a hooded nose, a large brain, a descended larynx, multi-pyramidal kidneys, loud-crying plump babies, and eccrine sweat cooling. Now they were human. They self-domesticated and developed grammatical syntactic language. So why did this all happen, and where did it all happen?

I think the unknown stages can be divided into two: the Aquatic-ape stage and the Free-sharing floater stage. Both stages may have occurred in a Galapagos-like scenario on the volcanic island Bioko, which had huge sea turtles to eat, and no predators to get eaten by. 

I think that about 6 million years ago a few chimpanzee-like apes became trapped on Proto-Bioko. With no forest foods or shelter on that barren island, they lived as Aquatic apes and evolved human features (see Then perhaps 10,000 fully evolved naked humans populated the 200km-long coast of Bioko for 5 million years. These humans freely shared their aquatic habitats, and had no personal properties or territories. They shared their food, because a 300kg turtle provided too much meat for one family. They shared sex because no alpha males could dominate in the water. They shared babies who floated while holding on to the long head hair of mothers, fathers, children, and neighbors. They shared thoughts and feelings using song and language.

I think these obese buoyant humans lived mostly in the water as Free-sharing floaters. They ate shellfish, seaweed, and turtle meat in the water. They sang and talked in the water. They slept in the water, pooped in the water, had sex in the water, gave birth in the water, nursed babies in the water, died in the water, and buried their dead (about 200 deaths each year) respectfully in the water.

These billion or so humans (200 births each year for 5 million years) left no fossils or traces of their existence, because on rainy, warm, and safe Bioko they had no need for tools, weapons, shoes, clothes, or fire. Some Bioko humans, such as Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and Denisovans, went over to mainland Africa relatively early. They invented clothing, tools, and fire, and left fossils in some of the places they lived. But they were not as culturally advanced as the ones who stayed a bit longer on Bioko. When Homo sapiens from Bioko eventually met the less cooperative archaic humans in Africa and Eurasia, they more or less replaced them.