Our aquatic stage?

(latest major update of this section on or about 10-22-2000)

_________by J.R. Mooneyham_________
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Back to the MASTER Table of Contents of the Signposts Timeline

Back to Perspectives 59,999,999 BC-51,000 BC...

[Caution: Extreme speculation ahead; this section mostly created for "What If?" entertainment value]

Approximately 5,000,000 BC: Earth possibly suffers a 'cosmic ray' winter for thousands of years; human ancestors are walking upright on two legs (and consequently gain the power of imitative speech)...

...possibly evolved this way because they have been living in a seasonally flooded or swampy location (or other highly liquid environment such as off-shore islands, lagoons, or continental seashores) for a lengthy period of time by now.

These humanoids have also acquired several other characteristics normally associated only or primarily with aquatic mammals by this time: a substantial loss of body hair, development of insulating and bouyant fat under the skin, breath control and flexibility suitable for diving, the weeping reflex, face-to-face sex, body temperature regulation via sweating, and others.

-- OUR AQUATIC PHASE! From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #34, JUL-AUG 1984 by William R. Corliss, citing Elaine Morgan; "The Aquattic Hypothesis," New Scientist, p. 11, April 12, 1984

Sources include... Why we are different from chimpanzees; A brief introduction to the Aquatic Ape Theory, a copy of the leaflet printed by Accent of Swansea for Elaine Morgan, Daily Mail&Guardian: In search of our swimming ancestors, THE AQUATIC APE, THE AQUATIC APE THEORY OF HUMAN EVOLUTION, Possible aquatic adaptations in humans, The Multi-habitat Hypothesis of human evolution, and The Human Origins Debate in Australia

-- "Seafood Was Brain Food, Says Researcher", CONTACT: Bruce Rolston, U of T Public Affairs, (416) 978-6974, bruce.rolston@utoronto.ca, ScienceDaily Magazine, http://www.sciencedaily.com//releases/1999/08/990827152557.htm, 8/30/99, Source: University Of Toronto

It may be at this point where human newborns and infants lose much of their early powers of dry land mobility in terms of crawling, climbing, and walking, as compared to most other primate young. Being born in an aquatic or semi-aquatic environment, infants needed only aquatic breath-control, buoyancy, and mobility (plus a grip on momma's long hair) to survive. 20th century human infants will often display all these remarkable traits when given the opportunity, but also appear to lose some of the instinctive protections these traits provide as their 'dry-land' mobility capacities assert themselves (i.e., they become well-established toddlers).

-- DID WE LEARN TO SWIM BEFORE WE LEARNED TO WALK? From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #50, MAR-APR 1987 by William R. Corliss, citing Elaine Morgan; "Lucy's Child," New Scientist, p. 13, December 25, 1986

Such a loss in land mobility allows human young to emerge in an earlier, still embryonic state, allowing for eventually larger brains-- but also requiring longer periods of child rearing than before. Longer child rearing creates an urgent need for longer lasting and stronger pair bonding between parents-- and/or much stronger maternal instincts in mothers. Note that females of this time are likely much smaller and weaker than the males, making them and their children much more vulnerable to predation and starvation, as well as murder by males wishing to free a potential mate from child rearing duties involving unrelated progeny. At least, such females and their embryonic children would be more vulnerable on land. However, in the water such size and strength differences may matter less. A plentitude of local food would also reduce a female's need for male protection. Another possibility is that protohuman groups themselves are somewhat matriarchial around this time, rather than patriarchial, making males more attentive to the needs of females and children. This may contradict much of what is known about primates in general and even much early human history, but could still be possible for a limited period in our evolution, or perhaps exist in repeating cycles throughout the process. And history itself does show that matriarchial societies are possible in modern humans as well.

The extra stresses and complexities embodied in adapting to such a wildly changing environment within a period of only a few million years may also have been responsible for the growth in brain size among this population.

If a semi-aquatic environment is what drove the evolution of these primordial humanoids up to now, that environment is also changing again around this time, drying up and ending the isolation of this group from the dryer savannahs of Africa.

Of course, if the 'aquatic ape' theory doesn't explain things to your satisfaction, you must seek an alternative explanation for how these strange changes in primate DNA came about to create modern humanity's 'naked ape' ancestors. Either external forces of nature and climate forced these changes upon us, or something else did....

The great improvement that walking upright allows in breath control also gives humanity another new power: that of speech. They can now better imitate the sounds of other animals or one another, or many other environmental noises. Such impersonation powers allow surprising new flexibility in entertaining one another, more complex signalling, and advances in stalking prey or defending against predators. Even at this early stage, humanity's crude power of speech may rate up there with the discovery of fire, in terms of the benefits gained.

-- Development Of Speech Related To Walking Upright, [Contact: Charlie Melichar ], 19-Nov-1999, unisci.com; other sources include...Paleoanthropology (revised 16 December 1999) by Francis F. Steen, Department of English, University of California at Santa Barbara, http://cogweb.english.ucsb.edu/EP/Paleoanthropology.html

Though true language remains far off, humanity is now firmly on the path to achieving the abstract/symbolic thought processes that language development will require. Note that even before gaining imitative speech capacities, these naked chimp-shaped pseudo-people may have possessed crude sign language skills. I include this speculation based on the fact that 20th century chimpanzees and gorillas are capable of learning quite sophistocated sign language skills from human teachers; it is unknown to me at the time of writing however just how much such skills are practiced among wild chimps and gorillas. Such information would seem highly relevant to the history of human predecessors, in respect to language development.

-- The part of the brain known as Wernicke's area is one of those responsible for language processing. Scientists have now discovered Wernicke's area also is involved in the predictability of nonverbal events. Thus, learning to speak may depend at least somewhat upon a subsconscious capacity to recognize predictable phenomena.

-- Emory researchers discover a neurological link between language and predictability that operates without conscious awareness, EurekAlert! 1 MARCH 2000, Contact: Lilli Kim llkim@emory.edu 404-727-5692 Emory University Health Sciences Center

Circa mid-2000 AD, human science is aware of just six animals in the entire history of the Earth which have gained the capacity to imitate sounds they heard from other sources. The list ranges from hummingbirds, parrots, and songbirds, to bats, cetaceans, and human beings (The cetacean group includes dolphins and whales).

This capability is known as vocal learning. The genetic basis for it among the different bird species listed above is striking because they all seem to have evolved it independently from one another, in a form of convergent evolution.

This many indicate that the other vocal learning species like humanity possess a similar genetic basis for their ability: seven specific structures in the brain.

-- Bird Brains Help Explain Language By Aries Keck, Discovery.com News, Aug. 10, 2000

A super nova 100 lightyears from Earth may have caused a mini-extinction 5 million years ago, with substantially increased cloud cover worldwide but reduced ozone layer protection from ultraviolet radiation for thousands of years. The Earth would have been darker and colder than usual during this time.

Such an event could have helped accelerate the evolution of modern human beings from their primate predecessors.

-- "Nearby supernova may have caused mini-extinction", SciNews-MedNews, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 31-Jul-99, Contact: James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor (217) 244-1073; kloeppel@uiuc.edu

-- "Nearby Supernova May Have Caused Mini-Extinction, Scientists Say", ScienceDaily Magazine, http://www.sciencedaily.com//releases/1999/08/990803073658.htm, 8/3/99, Source: University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign

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The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to jrmooneyham.com are included.

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