On my way home, really! »« My remarks at #ewts2013

Last chance for the soggy apes

I’m getting more than a little tired of the long-running wrangle on the wet ape hypothesis thread. I’m closing it and opening a new thread here, with a few rules:

  • No more pointless dismissals of comments from either side as mere opinion or evidence-less, even if they are.

  • Absolutely NO copy-pasting of arguments from other sites. If you’re not going to engage in conversation, but just want to unthinkingly recite rote claims from elsewhere, go away. That will be considered a bannable offense in this thread.

  • If you want to reply to a previous comment, actually reply to it. That involves thinking about and addressing the points in that comment. That means actually backing up your claims with evidence.

  • You’ve got one page of comments to do it all in. If this thread hits 500 comments, I’m simply closing it. You’re done.

  • If you try to run out the clock and spew lots of itty-bitty repetitive posts, I will ban you.

  • If you just snipe and run, I will delete your comment. So be substantive, or shut up.

OK? OK. Go to it.

I expect this thread will promptly die now that the obtuse and refractory proponents of paleontological nonsense are prohibited from regurgi-posting and are expected to actually have a dialog about the evidence. They may surprise me, but they probably won’t.

Besides, Space Ape Rules.

Comments

  1. says

    Humans look like apes without hair. You know what other mammal doesn’t have much hair? Dolphins. Therefore, humans evolved from aquatic apes. Is that an accurate summary of the evidence?

  2. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Thanks, PZ.

    I was channel-surfing on the TV, and the Christian channel had a chimp dressed in shirt and trousers, sitting at a table, eating out of a dish with a spoon. The chimp got up and walked bipedally out the door, and seemed to be doing fine, if waddling a bit because of what appeared to be a diaper. He had less hair on his face and head than I do, and the oddest thing about him was the “hands” out the bottom of his trousers. Other than that he was pretty much my grandfather, drunk.

    It turned out to be an episode of _Lassie_, not some expose’ of evolution. But I’m offering it as evidence that the biggest difference between us and chimps is in the foot. Any theory has to explain that first and foremost. (After that is sweating, I understand, with our scanty fur being ‘way down the list.)

    I like the savanna scenarios, and want to say that 40% tree cover is about like the average yard or park around here. There’s room under the trees, but plenty of shade. There are of course wider open areas, and patches of forest. (I took air-photo classes in college, and yeah, 40% trees is pretty popular.)

  3. David Marjanović says

    Tigger_the_Wing wins the previous thread.

    Algis! Have you read the four papers linked to from comment 559 yet? If you don’t have access, find my e-mail address in Google Scholar.

    Oh, and Algis? David Marjanovic is not at all arrogant or egotistical. You should thank him for being so nice as to take anything you say seriously enough to correct your multitudes of errors and sloppy science.

    As I’ve explained before, this is by no means an effort of niceness or respect or anything on my part. I have SIWOTI syndrome. I’ve come to ignore the marcbot because the marcbot won’t read or respond anyway – but “correct[ing] your multitudes of errors and sloppy science” is my default state.

    He did a similar one then using the diet of proboscis monkeys as an analogue for our ancestor’s diets, not realizing (as even a couple minutes’ online search would’ve told him) that proboscis monkeys have a very specialized diet with specialized digestive adaptations to handle it.

    Oh, wow. Proboscis monkeys are specialized leaf-eaters who practically ruminate.

    http://www.aquaticape.org/sealskin.html

    Very informative – and it documents just how sloppy researchers Morgan and Verhaegen are. I think they cite from memory all the time and don’t check if they have the right reference for what they want to cite or if any reference actually says what they want to cite.

    I don’t see a reason to think they’re lying, however. I’ve seen actual scientists be similarly sloppy about similar things.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing about this episode (besides Marc’s reactions causing the sci.bio.evolution’s moderator to ban discussion of the AAT from that newsgroup) was that at one point he, very uncharacteristically, thanked me for correcting him. That’d sort of indicate he understood the facts that had been presented to him. But afterward he made the same claim again, this time restricted to his Yahoo group.

    Wow. Either he is lying routinely, or his memory is as colander-like as Ray Comfort’s.

    Oops. I did it again. I compared an AAH supporter to a creationist.

    Hey, “Amphiox”…. Who are you, and why do you hate the idea so much that humans might have waded, swam and dived a bit more than chimps since the LCA?

    That is not what you’re arguing, you dishonest fucktwaddle.

    You’re arguing that the ancestors of humans having waded, swam and dived more is what shaped the differences between us and chimps. That is the point of contention, and the point for which you have no good evidence.

    You sound like a creationist, trying to lie about what you said five minutes ago to confound the audience –

    Alternative: he’s not lying, he’s too stupid to understand the difference between wading, swimming & diving “more” and doing specifically enough of that for natural selection to kick in and make us different from the chimps.

    Wouldn’t be the first time somebody had to walk him through his own ideas. As we’ve seen in this thread, he often doesn’t think them out.

    275. David M.: To be fair, this is not a polite society. :-) He called us “MOTHER FUCKERS”, and I called him “motherfucker” back!


    Come on, I saw Myers calling Algis a “wanker” in this thread. *He started it!*

    *blink*

    I’m not complaining that this isn’t a polite society. At all. I’m smiling at it, and you even quoted the smiley.

    Think outside the box!

    what the hell is Johanson afraid off?

    LOL, what makes you think he’s afraid? :-)

    Marcel I’m personally a little angry at these days, ’cause he made me consider Oreopithecus (9-7mya, it has been argued as a bipedal, semiaquatic ape) as a strong candidate for a hominin ancestor. And then a professor at the geological musum in Copenhagen actually showed me their Oreop. skull, and those teeth do look fucked up. No shovel incisors, while Dryopithecus, Sivapithecus and all hominids has shovel incisors.

    I can’t see how Marcel being wrong is a reason to be angry at him. ~:-| Anyway, Oreopithecus is pretty far away from the great apes, it was bipedal, and it was a terrestrial leaf-eater that stood under trees, reached for leaves, and chewed them up with outright deer-like molars. I discussed this on page 1 of this thread, which you still haven’t read.

    What does every man’s wang do in water?

    :-D :-D :-D Observe yours more often, under more different conditions!

    Homines sapientes

    Congratulations on your command of Latin grammar, but binomina aren’t names of individuals, they’re names of one species each and therefore don’t have plurals. If you don’t want to just let “Homo sapiens” stand in such a sentence, you have to resort to such circumscriptions as “individuals of Homo sapiens“.

    And the italics tag is <i>, as a minute’s thought would have taught you.

    Off the top of my head only humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and rhesus monkeys period bleed. I honestly have no idea why.

    There was a post here on Pharyngula about this a few months ago. The only thing I remember is that many placentals, such as dogs, bleed a little.

    For a real-life illustration, go on over to 4Chan,
    [...]
    Now, if these guys were actually having sex, and if any woman would have their babies,

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    re Michel Odent:

    :-O

    Christ, what an asshole.

    Let me present the Homeopathic Ape Hypothesis!! (HAH!!). Stupendous amounts of water are involved but no measureable trace of facts at all.

    LOL in meatspace!!!

    Yeah, but here’s the thing: Those isotope studies only concern australopithecines, not Homo.

    What in the fuck? Read the papers linked to from comment 559.

    Again, a diet rich enough in seafood for that to matter leaves a signal in the isotopic ratio in the fossil bones that is unmistakeable. That is how the dinosaur people figured out that Spinosaurus ate lots of fish.

    That’s oxygen isotopes, though, not carbon.

    Of course, one of the papers I cited does look at oxygen… and I posted what it finds…

    I find it interesting how in 1356 and 1358, CHE spends quite a lot of effort replying to posts of mine that were intended to be facetious, but ignores the more substantial replies of others on the same subjects.

    To be fair, I have to point out that your facetious ones are completely deadpanned. I can’t tell to which extent you actually mean them.

    You have presented evidence but there are multiple explanations for that evidence. And there is supporting evidence for those other explanations. Your conclusion, based on the evidence, fails at parsimony.

    Yes, for each waterside explanation, there are multiple non-waterside ones, often contradictory… and you call this “parsimony”.

    …It logically follows that at least some of the non-waterside ones fail at parsimony, too. :-| Your point?

    You really don’t actually read what others have written, do you? You really do just look for what looks like low-hanging fruit and jump at it.

    Seconded!

    (If he even jumps. Maybe he just stands there like Oreopithecus.)

    6) and the toiled it running over

    Do you know what? Switch your spellchecker off.

    …who takes every critique of his scientific work as a personal insult?

    There can be little doubt that that is your intention here, you strange, obsessed, person?

    How many posts do you make on this thread every day day? Are you Jim Moore in disgiuse?

    LOL.

    1) It’s actually quite obvious that Amphiox hasn’t published on human origins any more than I have.
    2) Have you noticed how short his comments are? I sometimes write just one per day, and it’s longer than all of his together.

    Nerd has been right

    Sure he has. He’s a nice reasonable bloke, just like you are.

    Argumentum ad hominem. People do not need to be nice or even reasonable to be right.

    Candiru isn’t the only fish that likes to exploit dangling, worm-like appendages

    That’s a digusting argument.

    Indeed it is. But is it wrong?

    So, it HAS to be “savannah”. I see. Funny I thought that was a straw man invention of Elaine Morgan.

    As usual, you’ve misunderstood, and as usual, we’ve already explained this to you several times.

    The strawman here is Morgan’s misinterpretation of “savanna” as “arid” and “treeless”.

    I’ve even seen definitions of “savanna” that excluded “tropical grassland”.

    But long distance swimming is one of the few sports where women can out-compete men.

    Oh?

    Tell me, how did wading and living at the waterside select for that?!?!?

    Hint: long-distance swimming and ultra-long-distance running are two of the few sports where women can outcompete men. That’s because those are the sports where extreme endurance is more important than speed or power – and this is where fat storage comes in.

    Explain the adaptive value of big breasts,

    Sexual selection – projection of the ass closer to eye level. I’m with Desmond Morris on this one.

    increased adipocity

    Numbers. Quantify, or it didn’t happen. What are the average BMIs of gibbons, orang-utans, gorillas, chimps, and hunting/gathering humans?

    and carrrying fat, helpless infants for months on the savannah again…

    Being able to carry them is an enormous advantage over having them tie you to a spot till the hyenas find you.

    Also, have you never noticed how wide the range of human birthweights is? One of my sisters weighed almost twice what the other weighed. Both were in the healthy range, and both are healthy and very similar in weight now.

    When one considers the kind of environment in which the mutations which led to human encephalisation could have occurred, and not simply gone extinct straight away, a high iodine/DHA diet makes more sense than a depleted one.

    Once humans had evolved their smarts, culture and technology would mitigate when moving away from such DHA/Iodine rich habitats.

    Haaaaaaaaang on a second.

    You, unlike Chris, are proposing freshwater waterside habitats for our ancestors.

    If the DHA and iodine arguments held any water, that water would be seawater.

    They contradict your hypothesis, and you’re evidently too stupid to even notice!

    Too stupid to have a kookfight!

    All right, where are the studies on isotopic evidence from Homo erectus teeth? Seriously, I haven’t been able to find it.

    The reason is probably that they don’t use the name Homo erectus. See, some people prefer a narrower concept for that “species”, under which H. erectus has never lived outside of southeast Asia; the widespread “species” is called H. ergaster by these people. The papers I’ve linked to simply avoid this controversy by just calling the African hominins in question “early Homo“; you have to look at their ages to figure out they’re H. erectus in the wide, traditional sense.

    If you don’t keep up with taxonomy, taxonomy sneaks up on you.

    And also, there is unfortunately the phenomenon of inconvenient truths. Not just the Al Gore kind, but also amongst academics. My favorite story is about a Swiss scientist that stumpled onto the fact, that adult Neanderthals had larger brain by average than modern sapiens, on roughly the same size body. And guess what? He was terrified of publishing his findings, ’cause he knew it would ruin his career. And guess what? It did.

    When the fuck was that? In the mid-19th century?

    Even the oldest sources I’ve read all state as a matter of fact that the Neandertalers had (on average) larger brains than we do, 1500 instead of 1400 cm³.

    Australopithecinae

    Wow. That’s really old nomenclature, from the benighted times when the chimps were included in the family Pongidae.

    Ok, so if Algis isn’t talking about the REAL breaststroke, what version is he talking about?

    ~:-| The version taught to children, of course. The non-athletic one. The one that’s usually just called “swimming”. It is, in fact, swimming without any diving; the head never gets wet. How were you taught to swim???

    See below, though, on natural selection.

    a) If we had dived enough to select for nose shape and breath control, then our heads would have been under water, and the hair on our heads would have created drag, just as he claims the hair on our bodies did. So, if he’s right about body hair, we should be bald on our head as well.

    Assuming enough speed or time was involved to make drag an actually issue. Diving for clams (…where, in the fucking Congo???…) probably doesn’t count.

    While it is possible to do a facsimile of the breaststroke with the head always out of the water, it is laughably slow and clumsy, AND it puts the human cervical spine at an awkward angle that will, if kept up for too long, very rapidly produce excruciating mechanical neck pain.

    So, in keeping with the theme of trait circle-jerking, the shape of the human cervical vertebrae are all wrong for that particular stroke that Algis was arguing so incompetently for. And in fact, the location of the chimpanzee and gorilla foramen magnum is more well adapted for doing this head-always-above-water-breast stroke than the human one.

    This is all true. I know that pain in the neck.

    In fact, the most optimized body plan for doing the breast stroke is actually that of a frog.

    Only the leg part of it. Frogs do not use their forelimbs for propulsion when swimming. Indeed, outright aquatic frogs like Xenopus have enormous hind- and rather small forelimbs, without even webbing between the fingers.

    (PZ Myers thinks this sort of thing is great.)

    I still find it funny how you believe PZ has read every single word on aquaticape.org and must somehow believe every single word is perfect.

    Few scientific papers rise to that standard!

    What “ohsu” writes here is an absolute, 100%, fucking lie!

    ONLY IN YOU DELUSIONAL MIND. Your idea died 15 years ago. You can’t admit the truth. What a mother fucking loser you are AK, no mind in the real world, just the world of your imagination and delusion….

    Wow, Nerd, read comment 1437 again. You reacted completely out of context.

    Seriously, I’m appalled.

    Re 1401 David Marjanovic

    Anthro-slur-guy’s gossip swallowed uncritically – as usual.

    Why, just because I quote him quoting it? All I did was point out that we are, in fact, monkeys if that term is to have any meaning.

    Chimps do not swim as well as humans.

    You keep repeating that. It’s still not a fact – it’s still just an unsupported inference.

    If human ancestors went swimming once a week, for half an hour, and chimp ancestors did not – that alone would provide easily enough selection to account for the remarkable phenotypic differences we see today.

    Whoa. If you swim that little, it’ll take you years to learn it!

    And if you swim for food, how can it be that little?

    One thing that never gets addressed by the AAI folks is that alligator/crocodiles tend to infest all bodies of water in their ecosystem.

    There have never been alligators in Africa. On the other hand, I already linked to the open-access description of Crocodylus anthropophagus.

  4. David Marjanović says

    Aaah, crap, a blockquote failure.

    Anyway, I wrote:

    You, unlike Chris, are proposing freshwater waterside habitats for our ancestors.

    Uh, except when you’re not and are talking about beaches instead, contradicting the fossil record. Sorry for forgetting that you contradict yourself on this.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There have never been alligators in Africa. On the other hand, I already linked to the open-access description of Crocodylus anthropophagus.

    I saw both your link and their lack of response. So, under the new rules, they have to answer now. Ambush predators in the water would raise havoc on troop of aquatic apes using that body of water for food unprotected by a boat or raft. The loss of a few of breeding age females in a single year could cause the troop to collapse. Not a way for AA to succeed.

  6. Trebuchet says

    Oh my gourd! Apparently I’ve been missing something. In case I get bored, where is it?

  7. gibb says

    PZ gets that any attempt at serious conversation with Algis eventually spirals out of control into multiquotes that go fractal. DavidM, take note.

  8. anthrosciguy says

    Oh my gourd! Apparently I’ve been missing something. In case I get bored, where is it?

    Part 30 starts here: http://talkrational.org/showthread.php?t=57383

    gibb had a post that listed most of the previous parts, including archived threads from Dawkins, here:
    http://talkrational.org/showthread.php?t=55755

    There’s some interesting info along the way, but like the action in newsgroups over the years on this subject, there’s a lot of stuff to sift through to get it. OTOH, if you like meta and pop psych it’s a goldmine.

  9. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Trebuchet, the link is in the first line of the OP. =^_^=

    Be warned – it reached a whopping 1493 comments – many of those were multi-screeners and at least one was a duplication. Hence His Squidliness’s understandable irritation and the rules at the top of the page!

    You’d have to be very bored to read through from the beginning. I was sick in bed, so I had an opportunity. Even so, I kept falling asleep from sheer exhaustion during some of the comments.

    I would like to know:

    1. What, in the opinion of the aquatic ape fans, constitutes significant differences between us and other African apes and how they quantify these differences;

    2. Why they consider these differences to be due to one or more of our ancestral species spending a significant amount of time in the water and how much time they consider significant;

    3. How they can definitively exclude a terrestrial origin for these differences (why is the aquatic explanation more accurate/parsimonious);

    4. What the timeline is for the development of these differences; and

    5. Where is the independent evidence that has been collected to support an aquatic version of the ancestral lifestyle.

  10. Lofty says

    Of course water does feature in savannah landscapes in one particular way.
    Rain.
    Therefore puddles.
    Does splashing through a few inches of muddy water count as wading in the AAH? Is the human foot well adapted to having mud ooze up between your toes? Does a chimp like walking in mud?

  11. says

    Don’t do that, gibb. I think that qualifies as a breach of the itty-bitty rule.

    I completely missed that the first thread had exploded like that and now I’m a little scared to go back and start on it. Nearly 1500 comments? Of nonsense?

  12. says

    LykeX:
    Yeah… I read the original post before it blew up and said to myself, “Awe! Space apes!”, then promptly forgot about it.

    I’d like to think that the 1500 comments went something like this:
    Them: AQUATIC APES! HUMANS CAN SWIM BETTER THAN CHIMPS!
    Everyone: Uh, no. Read X, Y, Z, dumbass.
    Them: AQUATIC APES! WE HAVE NO HAIR! EVOOOOLLLLLUUUUTION!
    Everyone: NO. Not in the least bit. Here’s the theory…
    Them: AQUATIC APES! ARGLBARGL!
    Everyone: *headdesk!*

  13. Amphiox says

    Here are some of the sorts of evidence that, if demonstrated and validated, would lead me, and I would think many paleoanthropologists, to take AAH ideas seriously:

    1. A collection of several hominid fossils representing several individuals across a period of time of at least several thousand years, all found in strata associated with a seabed/lakebed environment, surrounded by fossils of seabed/lakebed organisms. It has to be several and the dating has to match to distinguish this from a random individual washing into the lake/sea after death, or falling in and drowning.

    2. Fossil shellfish dating to the appropriate period (whether it is advent of early Homo or advent of bipedalism or whatever) with characteristic fracture marks/patterns that can be identified as being stereotypical for being broken with a particular kind of stone tool. Bonus if an example of the stone tool is found in or near the same fossil bed as the shellfish.

    3. Oxygen isotopic analysis of a fossil human ancestor demonstrating a diet primarily of seafood, with the fossil being of the appropriate age for whichever version of the AAH applies.

    4. Since the pubic lice data suggests diminishment of body hair between 3 million and 4 million years ago, demonstrate with a biomechanical analysis of the fossils that Australopithecus afarensis, which existed 2.9 to 3.90 million years ago had a bipedal gait that was better at wading, swimming and/or diving than Ardipithecus sp., which existed earlier than 4 million years ago. As a control, demonstrate that the bipedal gait of Ardipithecus sp. is not any better at wading than the bipedal gait of Ororrin, Sahelanthropus, or even a gibbon or orangutan.

    5. A description of two or more traits found in human head lice, but not in chimpanzee lice, that are adaptions for being exposed to a watery environment/submerged for extended periods of time. Do the same for human pubic lice vs gorilla lice. Identify the genes responsible for those traits and date the time that these traits arose. Show that they arose at the same time and that this time is congruent with whatever time period you are proposing human ancestors to have been aquatic or semi-aquatic. Alternately, find a fossil of a human louse from the appropriate time period and show that it already possessed the trait in question. One example of such a trait would be if the cuticle of human lice were more resistant to immersion in salt water than those of their chimpanzee or gorilla relatives.

    6. Isolate from the fossil of a human ancestor either the gene or the protein for myoglobin, and sequence it (a partial sequence may be sufficient). Show that it has a higher Z-score in terms of charge density that that of modern terrestrial great apes.

    7. Do a biomechanical analysis using a computer that shows that a modern human really can swim better than a modern chimpanzee based on anatomy alone, using the computer to give both swimmers their “perfect/ideal” swimming method (in the same manner that the dinosaur people use computer analyses to figure out the ideal gaits of dinosaurs), thereby eliminating the confounding factor of training and culture.

    8. Find a fossil of a human ancestor, dated to the appropriate time period, with evidence of a chronic infection from a water-living parasite, known to exclusively infect aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals.

    9. Find a fossil tooth from a human ancestor, dated to the appropriate time period, with a wear pattern best explained by a diet of primarily seafood. Or find such a fossil tooth with residue on it that can be traced to seafood.

    10. Find some paradigm-overturning evidence that for some period of time relevant to human evolution, the rift valley (or wherever the human ancestor fossils of relevance were found) was not a savannah/woodland habitat as previously believed, but actually the shoreline of a shallow sea.

  14. Amphiox says

    OK, so who wants to be that Algis and Chris (is he still banned?) won’t show up here at all?

  15. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    I’m going to link again to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Africa , which says there are only 16,000 miles of African coastline. There are about 10,000,000 square miles of of land within Africa. I’d say that a coastal ape is going to be comparatively limited in habitat.

    I’m also linking to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracunculiasis which says you get guinea worms by drinking stagnant water. The nasty buggers were endemic in Africa, and I’d say that splashing and swimming around in a river, eating swamp plants, would be a darn good way to get infested, even if you were careful to only drink good water from your local magic spring.

    I also offer the little orang in the picture up top. Look at that hand, and imagine it slicing sideways like a sculling oar through water. That’s how I swim, sometimes, by sculling my hands side-to-side, and that little guy has the hands for it.

  16. Lofty says

    It’s daytime in Algis’ time zone (Perth, WA) so he’s probably outside doing his “research”. He’ll be back, count on it.

  17. okstop says

    The substantive aspects of the Soggy Ape Argument are beyond my ability to comment on usefully, but from a formal standpoint (which IS in my area of expertise), the “hypothesis” seems poorly formed. It’s reductive, for one, and it seems to rely on false dichotomies, taking it that the rejection of A must entail B, rather than just ~A, without providing adequate justification for A–>B. Plus, from what little I’ve seen, I agree with John Hawks that it is in fact unparsimonious.

    So I guess my question is this: why even engage with the substantive aspects of it? It seems like doing so is granting the proponents of the the Snorkeling Ancestor argument more consideration than he or she really deserves. Adequate reasons to reject it can be stated in purely formal terms – why get bogged down arguing specifics with lunatics? These people are masters of weaving “just so” stories. I think getting down and actually trying to unravel those stories is a mistake, as they can spin faster than we can pull, to carry the analogy further than it really needed to be carried.

  18. Amphiox says

    So I guess my question is this: why even engage with the substantive aspects of it? It seems like doing so is granting the proponents of the the Snorkeling Ancestor argument more consideration than he or she really deserves. Adequate reasons to reject it can be stated in purely formal terms – why get bogged down arguing specifics with lunatics?

    SIWOTI syndrome.

    It’s so prevalent in modern humans (and completely absent in chimpanzees) that it must mean we are descended from web-surfing apes. (That would be WAH!)

  19. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s so prevalent in modern humans (and completely absent in chimpanzees) that it must mean we are descended from web-surfing apes. (That would be WAH!)

    Koko and a web chat. Sign language through the trainer. Next step, Koko reading/posting in Esperanto I presume.

  20. grrrrr says

    I have all of the planet of the apes?…,

    Sorry registered an account for another thread that irritated me so fist post.

  21. ChasCPeterson says

    look.
    People swim better than chimps, and have less hair.
    Plus, with breaststroke? Your head’s on top.
    And brains need DHA!
    Also too, apes wade instead of drown.
    How parsimonious can you fucking get???

  22. okstop says

    I guess the main problem is the Waterlogged Ape theorists have never heard the word “spandrel.”

  23. algiskuliukas says

    Bravo, PZ! I welcome this move and agree wholeheartedly to the rules.

    So far, though, there have only been three posts out of 28 that seem to have been written in the new spirit here so I will comment only on those.

    The first is post 14, by “Trigger…”

    1. What, in the opinion of the aquatic ape fans, constitutes significant differences between us and other African apes and how they quantify these differences;

    i, Bipedality (we’re 100% obligate bipeds, chimps, according to Hunt 1994 are 3% – and 80% of that was postural feeding in trees)
    ii, Big Brained. 1200cc for humans ca 350cc for chimps.
    iii, Syntactical Speech. They can do all sorts of clever symbolic communication but couldn’t ask you for a bunch of figs verbally.
    iv, Body hair pattern. Apart from a strange cap on the top of the head (but not the forehead), two eye brows and some hair as secondary markers of sexual maturity, most humans are functionally naked compared to chimps.
    v, Infant/Mother adiposity. Humans ca 15%, chimps 5%. Women have more sc fat than men, chimps are relatively sexually monomorphic in this area.
    vi, Concealed ovulation. Chimp females advertise their fertility, women don’t.

    2. Why they consider these differences to be due to one or more of our ancestral species spending a significant amount of time in the water and how much time they consider significant;

    i, Wading helps. There is no other scenario on the planet which would guarrantee bipedal locomotion in otherwise quadrupedal great apes then waist/chest deep water.
    ii, Brains use a lot of energy therefore dietary change must have occcurred. More meat and cooking clearly were involved but high DHA and Iodine specifically are also highly correlated with brain growth. It makes more sense that developmental mutations that made big brained inafnts occurred in population where there was an abundance of DHA/Iodine than places where they were scarce.
    iii, The evolution of speech makes more sense if fine breath control was already present as a pre-adaptation – perhaps for swimming – than if it did not exist.
    iv, Body hair causes drag. If one observes average children doing the breast stroke one will notice that the part of the body most likely to be above the surface of the water happens to be the scalp. Sweat cooling also only makes sense if one lives close to reliable sources of drinking water. Waterside habitats, again.
    v, Infant adiposity is clearly correlated with brain growth but it less clear whether fat babies were driven by large brains or vice versa. It makes little evolutionary sense to me that the mother should pump so much energetically expensive tissue into a new born baby as a kind of gamble that in 15 years or so it might make him a bit smarter. A much simpler, more stark, survival benefit to justify such a cost would appear to be to mitigate against the risk of drowning.
    vi, Concealed ovulation is a difficult one to explain, in my opinion, irrespective of the evolutionary scenario. Chris Knight, someone sympathetic to Elaine Morgan’s work, made an impressive attempt with his book “Blood Relations”. I admit that I am not really convinced about this, or any other idea on this matter.

    3. How they can definitively exclude a terrestrial origin for these differences (why is the aquatic explanation more accurate/parsimonious);

    I personally do not exclude any terrestrial factors at all.

    I repeat: I think humans are 100% (to the nearest integer) terrrestial today and probably have been for approx 2.6My or so.

    I would just argue that waterside scenario help to explain them. Without postulating any wading factor, why would those great apes that stopped climbing vertically be the ones that became bipedal, whereas the ones that continued doing so became quadupedal? Wading helps. Without postulating a diet rich in DHA/Iodine, brain growth might still have happenned, but with those factors, it is easier to explain. Speech might have evolved without any pre-adaptation for fine breath control but it seems easier to explain if one assumes that those hominins were relatively adept (compared to chimps) at swimming. Sweat cooling alone, or parasite detetction or good old sexual selection might be sufficient to explain our odd body hair pattern, but if swimming helps, why evade it like the plague? It might well be the case that women carried fat babies (and pendulous breasts) across open savannah grasslands, but if they are easier to explain in coastal habitats, isn’t this better? Arguing for menstrual synchrony seems to make more sense on the coasts where tidal changes would be dramatic and effect the whole populations.

    All of these differences, it seems to me, are aided by postulating a slight shift in habitat to include some wading, swimming and diving. That’s a very economical argument. In contrast, explaining them without any aquatic factor at all, seems to require much more special pleading and just so story telling.

    4. What the timeline is for the development of these differences; and

    Wading-Climbing Bipedalism – ca 10-5Ma
    Striding, efficient, obligate bipedalism ca 2.5Ma
    Everything else… more recent, peaking at ca 200Ka with modern Homo sapiens.

    In a nutshell: River Apes… Coastal People

    5. Where is the independent evidence that has been collected to support an aquatic version of the ancestral lifestyle

    Waterside lifestyle, not aquatic, please.

    The vast majority of fossils that have been found were formed in depositional substrates. Thousands have been attributed to human ancestors, only one(?) chimp. This is not proof that our ancestors lived by the water’s edge more than chimps but it is consistent with that proposition.

    Behavioural evidence strongly indicates that humans swim and dive better than chimps and although this is often explained by all manner of handy pre-adaptations (we’re clever, we’re fat, we’re bipedal, we have brachiating arms etc), it seems more parsimonious to consider that it may simply be due to natural selection from doing that behaviour. Especially as we do have a curious cluster of traits that seeem to be consistent with the idea and none that contradict it.

    This might be a circular argument but it is no more circular than most ideas about human evolution that are taught in universities today.

    Algis Kuliukas

  24. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Amphiox, I’m going to argue that your brain-eating bacteria is evidence FOR the wet ape shenanigans. See, the bacteria must have lived on and adapted to water-dwelling humans, or there wouldn’t be the bacteria. And there is the bacteria, so proof!

    In Algis’s site, http://www.riverapes.com/ , the opening frame builds up to:

    Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution:
    Assert that wading, swimming and diving for food have acted as an agency of selection in the evolution of human beings more than it has in the evolution of our ape cousins both before (and hence causing) the split between these lineages and after. It notes that even very slight levels of selection can still result in profound and rapid phenotypic changes.

    Which is touted as a “a simple, testable definition of what these kinds of ideas actually are.”

    I find it odd that it starts with “assert” as a verb. I still don’t like “diving”, as I recall Elaine Morgan talked about diving headfirst into water from a height as what shaped the nose. How can there be more selection before a split—-causing would be okay, but before?

    Most important, what is that stuff about even very slight levels of selection causing profound and rapid phenotypic change? Has he been watching those TV commercials about ab exercisers or something? Where else is that found in biology or evolution? Is there an example/inspiration somewhere, or is this just made up to make the hypothesis work?

    I know that conspiracy theorists often make their own alleged rules, just to make their stuff work. Is this another similarity to those guys?

    (I’m a little weak in some of the formal science here, so I’m just looking for the stuff I know, but I know that “hypothesis” looks bad..)

    He says Elaine Morgan endorses this.

  25. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There is no other scenario on the planet which would guarrantee bipedal locomotion in otherwise quadrupedal great apes then waist/chest deep water.

    And the EVIDENCE fort this assertion? No link, no evidence, against PZ’s rules.

    I would just argue that waterside scenario help to explain them.

    If you argue, where is your links to the EVIDENCE?

    are aided by postulating a slight shift in habitat to include some wading,

    Where is your EVIDENCE. Your mental wankings aren’t, and never will be, evidence. They are your delusions.
    You are making claims without evidence…..

  26. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and AK, you never discussed, with evidence, the problem of crockodiles in your water. You must address that claim….

  27. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    There is no other scenario on the planet which would guarantee bipedal locomotion in otherwise quadrupedal great apes then waist/chest deep water.

    Can I just say “Space Ape” here, or is that breaking the rules?

    Domination / threat display / beating one’s chest.

    Looking over savanna grass.

    Using both hands on a digging stick.

    Carrying with both hands.

    Waltzing.

    Ankle deep nasty water.

    Imitating humans.

    Sashaying.

    Picking overhead fruit.

    Wild West shootout.

    Fighting off a swarm of bees.

    Eating bananas while walking.

    Last few steps before going up a tree.

  28. Amphiox says

    Amphiox, I’m going to argue that your brain-eating bacteria is evidence FOR the wet ape shenanigans. See, the bacteria must have lived on and adapted to water-dwelling humans, or there wouldn’t be the bacteria. And there is the bacteria, so proof!

    Actually, it’s an amoeba.

    And, as in my earlier post, a fossil human ancestor skull showing evidence of such an infection (it invades through the nasal passages and erodes the skull base) would in fact be evidence that ancient humans spent at least some time swimming in water.

    You would need to somehow be able to demonstrate that the infection really was from a water borne parasite rather than some other kind of bone eroding terrestrial parasite, but if one had such a fossil, one could try to look for such evidence.

  29. algiskuliukas says

    The second is 20 Amphiox

    A rare exposition of the sort of evidence that would lead an aquaskeptic to reconsider.

    1. A collection of several hominid fossils … all found in strata associated with a seabed/lakebed environment…

    Seabed? Lakebed? Were you under the impression that the idea is proposing humans were mermaids or something?

    If one does not exaggerate the idea, but in fact scales it back to the minimum, waterside hypotheses become much more plausible and absolutely consistent with all the fossil evidence.

    Why not do that?

    2. Fossil shellfish dating to the appropriate period …

    We have excellent evidence of that, as you know….

    Marean, C., Bar-Matthews, M., Bernatchex, J., Fisher, E., Goldberg, P., Herries, A., Jacobs, Z., Jerardino, A., Karkanas, P., Nilssen, P., Thompson, E., Watts, I., Williams, H. Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene. Nature 449:, (2007).

    164 +/- 12 Kya is very close to the estimates of the origin of modern Homo sapiens

    3. Oxygen isotopic analysis of a fossil human ancestor demonstrating a diet primarily of seafood, with the fossil being of the appropriate age for whichever version of the AAH applies.

    Why does the diet have to be “primarily of seafood”? I would agree that there should be such evidence of early humans eating more seafood than chimps. A reversed finding would cause me to drop the idea.

    4. Since the pubic lice data suggests diminishment of body hair between 3 million and 4 million years ago, demonstrate with a biomechanical analysis of the fossils that Australopithecus afarensis, which existed 2.9 to 3.90 million years ago had a bipedal gait that was better at wading, swimming and/or diving than Ardipithecus sp., which existed earlier than 4 million years ago. As a control, demonstrate that the bipedal gait of Ardipithecus sp. is not any better at wading than the bipedal gait of Ororrin, Sahelanthropus, or even a gibbon or orangutan

    Interesting but asking a lot for some of these paleospecies for which there is simply no postcranial evidence at all. A comparison between A afarensis, Ardipithecus, early and late Homo and extant great apes should be possible though.

    I am actually trying to do this for my PhD. Australopithecines, according to my model, should be better adapted to wading than modern humans.

    5. A description of two or more traits found in human head lice, but not in chimpanzee lice, that are adaptions for being exposed to a watery environment/submerged for extended periods of time. Do the same for human pubic lice vs gorilla lice…

    Another very interesting idea. I guess one would have to consider how fast lice species evolve, though. As far as I know, I am the only waterside proponent who suggests that our ancestors were at their “most aquatic” (but still not much, right?) as recent as 200Ka and since then, have obviously migrated to every corner of the globe – I expect that’s a lot of lice generations with relatively little (even compared to a low starting point) need for any aquatic adaptations.

    6. Isolate from the fossil of a human ancestor either the gene or the protein for myoglobin, and sequence it (a partial sequence may be sufficient). Show that it has a higher Z-score in terms of charge density that that of modern terrestrial great apes.

    But if it is not being considered that humans were significantly adapted to diving, but only to more (relative to chimps) surface swimming, one wouldn’t really expect any difference there.

    If some marker of oxygen binding in haemoglobin or some other physiological aspect of shallow diving, that was present in manatees and dugongs, were identified, one would predict that there should be a clear difference between humans and chimps on this, with humans nearer the manatee/dugong range than chimps.

    I’d personally drop the whole idea if this was not the case.

    7. Do a biomechanical analysis using a computer that shows that a modern human really can swim better than a modern chimpanzee based on anatomy alone, using the computer to give both swimmers their “perfect/ideal” swimming method (in the same manner that the dinosaur people use computer analyses to figure out the ideal gaits of dinosaurs), thereby eliminating the confounding factor of training and culture.

    Yes. I’d sign up to that one too. Again, if such a study did not show a clear advantage to humans, I’d drop the idea.

    8. Find a fossil of a human ancestor, dated to the appropriate time period, with evidence of a chronic infection from a water-living parasite, known to exclusively infect aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals.

    Nice idea, but seeems rather unlikely to say the least. Such parasites would affect soft tissue only, right?

    Talking of aquatic related maladies, however, how about the finding of clear evidence of ear exostoses in early humans? If populations did significant amounts of swimming and diving one would expect the auditory meatus to be narrower in those groups.

    9. Find a fossil tooth from a human ancestor, dated to the appropriate time period, with a wear pattern best explained by a diet of primarily seafood. Or find such a fossil tooth with residue on it that can be traced to seafood

    Isn’t the problem here that seafood is relatively soft. Indeed many shellfish can be swallowed live without any chewing at all.

    I’ve always thought that the dental and masticatory reduction that is clearly seen in humans since ca 2.5Ma is better explained if one postulates a shift in diet to more seafood. Of course, Richard Wrangham’s cooking ideas also explains this adequately, however.

    10. Find some paradigm-overturning evidence that for some period of time relevant to human evolution, the rift valley (or wherever the human ancestor fossils of relevance were found) was not a savannah/woodland habitat as previously believed, but actually the shoreline of a shallow sea

    Hadar was a wetland for over a million years. Turkana was a wetland too. Ever heard of the Rift valley lakes?

    I think 5 (1,2, 8,9,10) of these ten already show good evidence in favour of waterside hypotheses. I am actually trying to do one myself, Of the other 4, the ones that could be done, I’d also sign up for and would drop the idea if the evidence controverted it.

    So, well done Amphiox. A very good post, thanks.

    Algis Kuliukas

  30. Amphiox says

    See, the bacteria must have lived on and adapted to water-dwelling humans, or there wouldn’t be the bacteria.

    The thing is, there is nothing specific about the amoeba’s mechanism of infection. It is just an opportunistic pathogen that takes advantage of a warm, wet, nutrient rich habitat. It isn’t adapted for humans at all, and is usually actually a free-living organism that can complete its entire life cycle in water or soil, without any host.

    http://www.stanford.edu/group/parasites/ParaSites2010/Katherine_Fero/FeroNaegleriafowleri.htm

  31. Amphiox says

    There is no other scenario on the planet which would guarantee bipedal locomotion

    The lack of imagination demonstrated by this statement boggles the mind.

    To add to Menyambal’s list, I’ll add one more.

    Brachiation.

    Fucking brachiation.

    BRACHIATION.

    When the only branches available for your hands to grab are too thin to carry your entire body weight, you support your weight BIPEDALLY with your feet, BIPEDALLY, on a third branch, BIPEDALLY. People have fucking filmed gibbons doing this!

    in otherwise quadrupedal great apes then waist/chest deep water.

    As has already been explained to you in great detail, such “otherwise quadrupedal great apes” DID NOT EXIST at the time we are talking about. The LCA of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas was ALREADY A FALCULTATIVE BIPED.

    FACULTATIVE BIPEDALISM WAS THE PRIMITIVE CONDITION AMONG THE APES.

    Obligate knuckle-walking quadrupedalism evolved LATER in the chimpanzees and gorillas. (And in fact both of them are still capable of limited bipedal locomotion in a wide variety of circumstances)

    It may seem weird to find that knuckle-walking evolved twice by convergence in chimpanzees and gorillas, but that’s just too bad, because that is the fact as demonstrated by the fossil record. Call it an ugly fact if you want, but it is fact.

    Seabed? Lakebed? Were you under the impression that the idea is proposing humans were mermaids or something?

    Algis your egotism truly is pathetic. What, you think my comments were directed solely at you?

    Seabed was for the version of the AAH proposed by people like CHE, and others who propose even more aquatic versions.

    And as for lakebed, were you under the impression that all lakes are hundreds of feet deep? That SHALLOW lakes with areas where the water is no more than chest deep do not exist? That a shore-living ape, having died in or near the shallow water, could not have its remains swept out into the deeper portions of the lake? That a wading ape, attacked and killed by a crocodile, could never have its carcass dragged into deeper waters for consumption?

    Great effin’ gods-that-are-imaginary, I am making the taphonomy EASIER for you in terms of where you can go and look for your fossils! And you do not even realize it.

    Of course we already knew that you understand NOTHING about taphonomy.

  32. Amphiox says

    Nice idea, but seeems rather unlikely to say the least. Such parasites would affect soft tissue only, right?

    There are LOTS of parasitic infections that leave clear evidence in the bones.

    Yes. I’d sign up to that one too. Again, if such a study did not show a clear advantage to humans, I’d drop the idea.

    Then GO DO IT. That one is a SOFTWARE experiment. The skeletal anatomies of humans and chimpanzees are a matter of public record. Versions of the necessary software are probably public domain as well.

  33. Amphiox says

    Hadar was a wetland for over a million years. Turkana was a wetland too. Ever heard of the Rift valley lakes?

    My number 10 refers to the whole rift valley. The whole thing under water. An area scattered with wetlands and lakes cannot distinguish any AAH’s from the standard savannah-based theories. And when two hypotheses cannot be distinguished from one and other by any particular piece of evidence, then that piece of evidence falls down in favor of the more parsimonious hypothesis.

    And NO, the AAH is NOT PARSIMONIOUS compared to the savannah/woodland/terrestrial hypotheses.

    But if it turned out the whole area was underwater, then hominids living there would HAVE to be aquatic. That’s why I called it “paradigm-overturning”, because it is such a longshot and so unlikely. But if it happened, it would not only be evidence for the AAH, it would PROVE the AAH outright.

  34. Amphiox says

    Regarding Hadar:

    http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/afarensis/hadar/hadar-paleoclimate-reed-2008.html

    Pertinent quotes from the citation:

    Habitat reconstructions of 12 submembers of the Hadar and Busidima formations (˜3.8-2.35 Ma) are presented here along with faunal differences in these submembers through time. Habitats with medium density tree and bush cover dominated the landscape through much of the earlier time period in the Hadar Formation.

    There is an influx of ungulates in the Kada Hadar Member (˜3.2-˜2.96 Ma) that indicates a more arid habitat

    Thus, the earliest known A. afarensis material was found in deposits showing habitats in which trees and or bushes were fairly plentiful.

    There is no direct evidence that A. afarensis only existed in riverine forests or grassland habitats, or that they preferred one habitat over another.

    We won’t even get into the fact that the time period in question is not congruent with the origin of bipedality anyways.

  35. Amphiox says

    Shellfish and oysters have grit in them, sand and grit that can leave marks on teeth. If you’re smashing the shells with stone tools fragments of shell could get into the meat and also abrade your teeth. The shells of lobsters and crabs likewise.

    Semi-aquatic apes from 3-10 million years ago are unlikely to have the service of sushi chefs that will serve them only the soft parts of their seafood.

  36. algiskuliukas says

    Re 25 okstop

    It’s reductive, for one, and it seems to rely on false dichotomies, taking it that the rejection of A must entail B, rather than just ~A, without providing adequate justification for A–>B.

    Please could you explain what you mean by “reductive” in this context?

    As for the false dichotomy thing… surely the point here is that in historical sciences such as these, there is an inevitable paucity of evidence which makes Popperian-style falsification difficult. Therefore the best we can do is evaluate competing hypotheses in terms of their plausibility and evidence. How much evidence is consistent with a, b, c etc ? Is there any evidence that controverts them? How plausible are they?

    I put it to you that waterside hypotheses score as well, if not better, than any other idea on human evolution when assessed objectively.

    I keep asking aquaskeptics if they can even articulate a competing hypothesis that could be evaluated, but when they are not touting the old “savannah hypothesis”, or, paradoxically, pretending that no-one ever believed it, they usually end up dodging the whole issue by arguing that it is good science just to say “we don’t know”.

    Surely we can do better than that.

    So I guess my question is this: why even engage with the substantive aspects of it? It seems like doing so is granting the proponents of the the Snorkeling Ancestor argument more consideration than he or she really deserves.

    Why engage? Surely because it is the only response that shows intellectual courage. If these ideas are so crazy, why can’t PZ Myers, or somebody, just tell me why? Why, instead do they have to do the name calling thing? I notice this is all you are doing here, too.

    Waterside Hypotheses, please. Not “snorkelling ancestors”.

    Adequate reasons to reject it can be stated in purely formal terms – why get bogged down arguing specifics with lunatics?

    Please state one of these “adequate reasons” – in purely formal terms.

    Please, can you do so without reverting to insults.

    Why do you think I am a “lunatic” just for being open to the idea that human ancestors might have waded, swam and dived sufficiently more than chimps to affect our phenotype? I simply do not understand the need for this kind of reaction? What am I missing here?

    These people are masters of weaving “just so” stories. I think getting down and actually trying to unravel those stories is a mistake, as they can spin faster than we can pull, to carry the analogy further than it really needed to be carried

    Well, as Dan Dennett pointed out, it’s not just “These people” who are good at weaving just-so stories. The mainstream people are pretty good at that too. Have you read the scientific literature on ideas about bipedal origins, for example? I have. There are at least 30.

    Here are some…
    “Freeing of the Hands” (Darwin 1871); “Carrying food back to gallery forest bases” (Hewes 1961); “Migrating near herds” (Sinclair et al 1986); “Male provisioning in monogamous pairs” (Lovejoy 1981); “Female-specific infant carrying” (e.g. Edkin 1954); “Weapon throwing” (Fifer 1987, Dunsworth et al 2003); “Tool carriage” (Bartholemew & Birdsell 1953, Marzke 1986); “Weapon wielding” (Dart 1959, Kortland 1980); “Interspecific threat displays” (Kortland 1980); “Intraspecific threat displays” (Livingston 1962, Jablonki & Chaplin 2004); “Merecat peering” (Reynolds 1931, Walter 2004); “Phallic Display” (Tanner 1981); “Copied Gimmick” (Dawkins (2005); “Seed Eating” (Jolly 1970); “Terrestrial squat feeding” (Kingdon 2002); “Postural feeding in low branches” (Hunt 1994); “Arboreal predation” (Eickhoff 1988); “Stalking” (Geist 1978); “Hunting” (Cartmill 1974, Carrier 1984); “Hylobation ancestry” (Keith 1923); “Upwardly mobile/Vertical climbing” (Tuttle 1975); “Orang-utan-like hand assisted bipedalism” (Thorpe et al 2007); “Walking on snow or mud” (Kholer 1959); “Slow, efficient, long distance walking” (Rodman & McHenry 1980); “Biomechanical inevitability” (Reynolds 1985); “Efficiency of moving from tree to tree” (Pickford and Senut 2001); “Locomotor de-coupling” (Sylvester 2006); “Endurance Running” (Lieberman 2007); “Thermoregulatory hypothesis” (Wheeler 1984); “Iodine deficiency” (de la Marett 1936); “Developmental mutation in the spine” (Filler 2007); “Multi-factorial” (e.g. Napier 1964, Sigmon 1971, Rose 1984, Day 1986).

    Oh… and then there are also those “lunatics” who think that as all apes do switch to bipedalism when they move in waist deep water, this might just have had something to do with it!!

    I’ve tried to evaluate these ideas, as we do in academia, through a kind of marking rubric and whenever I do, the wading ideas tend to come out better than others.

    My son created a nice web tool to allow anyone to try it for themselves.

    If there is a factor you don’t think should be there, set it’s weighting to 0. If there are factors I have not included that you think should be, just replace my category/ies with yours.

    If anyone would like to post there results please do so on my discussion group thread set up for this purpose.

    Algis Kuliukas

  37. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    I offer into evidence _Baboons wading through water – Planet Earth – BBC animals & wildlife_ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAiZFhhHEXU It shows baboons wading around in the flooded Okavango delta, with several young baboons walking upright, much as Algis scenarios.

    I first referred to that vid after Algis said no monkeys walked bipedally, only apes. He later used it as evidence of something.or other.

    First, if young baboons can walk bipedally well enough to wade through water and pick grass seeds at the same time, the whole origin-of-bipedalism “problem/mystery” just fades away. It’s something even young monkeys can do, we may have improved it with our other neotenous traits, or something, so just shrug, say, “Kids and their fashions”, and mark it up to sexual selection (as has been suggested). (“Everybody’s talking about a new way of walking …” and “Junior, if you keep doing that you are going to get stuck that way!”)

    Second, the young baboons looked like they hated the water, but had no choice. A scenario that depends on primates doing something they hate, that Algis thinks is so damn difficult as to need an origin myth, doesn’t seem good to me. I’d take a bunch of young baboons fooling around on the savanna, myself, over doing a difficult and hateful task long enough to evolve into it (no wonder we are so crabby).

    Third, the big adult baboons didn’t go bipedal. It looked like they didn’t want to (one mother even stays horizontal while her pup gets dunked), and wouldn’t go deep enough to have to (the little ones just had to tough it out). (They even kept their tails as straight up as possible, as if they hated water, but had to eat.) Algis needs to show a food-gathering necessity that gets his apes into the just-right-deep water—I’d say they’d just piss off to somewhere drier, or stay in the shallows, unless they had a real hankering for something improbable.

    Fourth, the adult baboons were feeding off grasses and snails, and doing it quadrupedally. I have often told Algis that gathering snails is a good time to be a chimp, but he has never addressed that. Further, as I have said, wading at all is a good time to be a quad. (I’ve waded for a few jobs, and I’d rather go chimp.)

    Fifth, the Okavango Delta’s annual flooding is a special thing. It puts normally dry land under water, and generally disrupts the natural order of things. Many dry-land animals are wading around there, not just baboons. I say that if in all of Africa, this is the only place to get video of wading primates, they must not be doing much wading out in the world. Algis really needs to come up with a compelling reason for apes to go wading in chest-deep water, instead of just assuming they must have. And then assuming all the other stuff, whatever it is today.

    —–

    Amphiox, sorry about the goof-up in calling the amoeba a bacteria. I push my alleged humor ‘way too fast sometimes. And thanks for the additional info. Dang, I learn a lot of science here.

  38. bad Jim says

    Let it be noted that water dogs, who also wade and swim, aren’t conspicuously less hairy than other varieties, and that aquatic birds, who wade, swim and dive, are likewise fully fledged? Nakedness isn’t a necessary adaptation.

    I spend a lot of time at the beach, enjoying the spectacle of dolphins, sea lions and whales, cormorants, pelicans and terns, surfers and swimmers. We apes are conspicuously bad at swimming in comparison.

  39. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Algis:

    (My bolds)

    A comment just above:

    … surely the point here is that in historical sciences such as these, there is an inevitable paucity of evidence which makes Popperian-style falsification difficult. Therefore the best we can do is evaluate competing hypotheses in terms of their plausibility and evidence.

    From http://www.riverapes.com/ first page:

    Waterside Hypotheses Defined
    So, let’s start, at last, with a simple, testable definition of what these kinds of ideas actually are.

    Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution:
    Assert that wading, swimming and diving for food have acted as an agency of selection in the evolution of human beings more than it has in the evolution of our ape cousins both before (and hence causing) the split between these lineages and after. It notes that even very slight levels of selection can still result in profound and rapid phenotypic changes.

    Compare and contrast: “a simple, testable definition” and “.. makes Popperian-style falsification difficult”.

  40. Amphiox says

    Compare and contrast: “a simple, testable definition” and “.. makes Popperian-style falsification difficult”.

    That’s the thing. As we can plainly see from all of Algis’ arguments, he moves the goal-posts all the time. He keeps changing the *amount* of water activity in his hypothesis with nebulous weasel-words until it can fit into any scenario whatsoever.

    When REAL evolutionary scientists discuss “slight levels of selection” producing “profound and rapid phenotypic change”, they quantify what they mean by “slight” levels of selection, and “rapid” phenotypic change. (They generally won’t use “profound” except as metaphor. “Profound” is a judgement call that is undefinable.) They *do the math*. They determine real numbers for things like selection coefficients and fitness functions and generation times and population sizes.

  41. Amphiox says

    Waterside Hypotheses, please.

    More ego from Algis.

    This thread is about the Aquatic Ape Hypotheses. All of them. Not just your personal version.

  42. bad Jim says

    Humans have been spectacular seafarers, though. How the hell did the Polynesians manage to colonize nearly every island in the Pacific? Sure, they had pretty good boats, but the distances they covered were immense. Did they accomplish this on purpose, or were there generations lost in vain pursuit of islands to the east? For extra points, contrast this to the Atlantic, a shorter span which remained uncrossed for millennia.

  43. profpedant says

    Elaine Morgan’s book came out when I was in my teens, and I rather enjoyed it at the time. I’m not much of a beach person, but somehow the idea of our ancestors ‘taking a quarter of a million year seaside vacation’ was appealing. Despite still being in my teens, and incredibly naive in many ways, I knew better than to mistake my enjoyment of the idea for evidence of its factuality and the idea ended up on a mental shelf for quite a while because I rarely heard it mentioned. I am, with appropriate caveats, reasonably convinced that the generally accepted understanding of how our ancestors lived and evolved is pretty close, and increasingly close, to accurate. But, even though it only has spandrels and a lack of supporting evidence that is intriguingly consistent with the hypothesis to support it, I still like the idea that our ancestors hung out at the beach. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that if some of our ancestors found a particularly good shellfish bed or a recently beached whale they would delightedly take advantage of the situation. But I see no basis for extrapolating from that hypothetical good fortune to assuming, or even trying to test for, evidence that those of our ancestors who hung out at the beach contributed any meaningful differences to our genes.

    tl;dr: We probably did have ancestors who lived at the beach some of the time, good for them. Probably most of our ancestors did not live at the beach, and that is cool too. It is nice being a member of a species that can be happy in many habitats.

  44. algiskuliukas says

    Re 30 ChasCPeterson

    How parsimonious can you fucking get???

    I agree. Pretty much all the human-chimp differences explained in one (well, ok, perhaps two), tiny, waterside steps.

    And the counter proposal is… ?

    Re 31 okstop

    Spandrel

    No, we’ve never heard of anything like that. We’re all really stupid, we “waterlogged” guys. We know nothing, not like you savannah/slightly more open than chimps habitats/super-duper generalist/god knows, maybe it was drift people.

    Re 33 Menyambal

    Most important, what is that stuff about even very slight levels of selection causing profound and rapid phenotypic change?

    It’s population genetics 101.

    For selection to overcome drift it need only be greater than the reciprocal of twice the effective population size. In other words – no need for mermaids.

    Re 36 Manyambal

    Domination / threat display / beating one’s chest etc

    I said “bipedal locomotion” Most of the serious ones in your silly list are just postural.

    Re 39 Amphiox

    Re evidence of parasites as markers of a waterside ancestry for humans.

    Ashford, R W (2000). Parasites as indicators of human biology and evolution. J Med Microbiol Vol:49 Pages:771-772

    Amphiox you never did say why you stopped LOVING the “AAH”. What was it that changed your mind?

    Re 40 Amphiox

    BRACHIATION

    Yes, that old one (Sir Arthur Keith 1923). Funny how, if this was so obvious, the Hylobatian model of bipedalism is so unpopular in university level texts.

    Gibbons are highly specialised. They’re bipedal on the ground mainly because their arms are so long relative to their legs (intermembral index of approx 130) they’d still be upright even if they moved quadrupedally.

    Please cite the fosssil evidence that shows that the LCA of all the great apes was a brachiator, like gibbons.

    No fossil, no talk, right?

    FACULTATIVE BIPEDALISM WAS THE PRIMITIVE CONDITION AMONG THE APES

    I KNOW!

    So, why did three great apes move away from bipedalism and start moving more quadrupedally, whilst only one member of the clade became an obligate biped?

    Whatever the ancestral condition of the LCA, we still have to explain the differences today. The fact that extant great apes today (largely quadrupedal) will all, with 100% certainty, move bipedally for as long as the conditions prevail is pertinent to this debate because if the LCA was a largely wading-climbing biped then removing the wading component would clearly be a key step in why chimps and gorillas became quadrupeds.

    Of course we already knew that you understand NOTHING about taphonomy.

    Enough to know that the fact thousands of fossils attributed to human ancestors have beeen found in depositional substrates but only one(?) chimp is not an argument against waterside hypotheses of human evolution.

    Re 41 Amphiox

    There are LOTS of parasitic infections that leave clear evidence in the bones.

    What? Aquatic-based ones? What about the ear exostoses point?

    Then GO DO IT.

    Naive, or what? If I were clever enough to do that, I wouldn’t be here arguing with people like you. Have you any idea what this would involve?

    Re 42 Amphiox

    My number 10 refers to the whole rift valley. The whole thing under water.

    Ah. Not exaggerating the idea much, then, are you?

    And NO, the AAH is NOT PARSIMONIOUS compared to the savannah/woodland/terrestrial hypotheses

    Maybe not, (not what you think of as the “AAH” anyway) but most parsimonious of all are waterside hypotheses.

    Living close to the water’s edge explains all the major traits with great economy. How does the “savannah” idea?

    Re 43 Amphiox

    Image of Hadar in Johanson’s Book about Lucy

    Re 44 Amphiox

    Semi-aquatic apes from 3-10 million years ago are unlikely …

    But coastal people, from 2.6Ma, would have been able to teach their children to open shellfish with a pebble. It’s unfortunate that this kind of diet would not have left any tooth marks but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Re 46 Menyambal

    after Algis said no monkeys walked bipedally, only apes

    I never said that but as misrepresentation is the hallmark of aquaskeptics, no-one should be surprised.

    Of course, all large primates, like apes, will tend to move bipedally in shallow water.

    Crazy, right?

    Re 47 Bad Jim

    water dogs

    What’s a “water dog”? The only comparison that matters here is humans versus chimpanzees. Since the LCA with chimps, the idea is our ancestors were exxposed to more selection for wading, swimming and diving than their’s. How well dogs, ducks, horses, camels, whales etc do this is neither here nor there.

    Re 48 Menyambal

    Compare and contrast: “a simple, testable definition” and “.. makes Popperian-style falsification difficult”.

    Easy – one has the word “falsification” in it, the other one doesn’t.

    Popperian falsification is the ideal, but difficult in palaeoanthropology. The best we can hope for is to try to provide testable predictions.

    You seem determined to discredit this idea and anyone (like me) who is in favour of it. Why not just debate the evidence?

    Re 49 Amphiox

    As we can plainly see from all of Algis’ arguments, he moves the goal-posts all the time. He keeps changing the *amount* of water activity in his hypothesis with nebulous weasel-words until it can fit into any scenario whatsoever

    Not true. I haven’t significantly changed my model since 2000 when Sahelanthropus was discovered. That evidence, coming so close to the Orrorin discovery, changed my mind about the likely nature of the LCA – from being quadrupedal to being a wading-climbing facultative biped. It’s interesting that a somewhat bipedal LCA has now become de rigeur.

    The point I make about slight selection is simply that there is no need for mermaids here. Most people (proponents and opponents alike) seem to always imagine that these ideas require quite a dramatic shift towards a more aquatic lifestyle. I’m merely reminding people that even very low levels of selection (as little as ha;f an hour a week) would be sufficient.

    Re 50 Amphiox

    This thread is about the Aquatic Ape Hypotheses. All of them

    Please try to keep up. Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution is an umbrella term coined specifically to encompass ALL of the ideas that involve water, from Tobias’ mild ideas through to the most extreme ones as espoused by Verhaegen & Munro.

    My own personal version is called “River Apes… Coastal People”.

    The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is a minomer. It’s not only about pre-Homo ancestors (so “apes” is wrong). It’s not postulating that our ancestors were “aquatic” in any realistic sense of that word. Hardy merely asked “Was Man More Aquatic in the Past?” (so “aquatic” should be omited too) and there are several ideas, not one.

    Only aquaskeptics, bent on misrepresenting the idea like to cling to this term, because it is easier to get people to sneer at it that way.

    The latest scholarly book on the subject included “Waterside Hypothesis of Human Evolution” as its subtitle.

    In it, was chapter 6 , which ended…

    Waterside hypotheses of human evolution assert that selection from wading, swimming and diving and procurement of food from aquatic habitats have significantly affected the evolution of the lineage leading to Homo sapiens as distinct from that leading to Pan. (p 118)

    Kuliukas, A., Morgan, E. (2011). Aquatic scenarios in the thinking on human evolution: What are they and how do they compare?. In: Vaneechoutte, M., Verhaegen, M., Kuliukas, A. (eds.), (2011). Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? (eBook). Blackwell Science (Basel)

    Algis Kuliukas

  45. okstop says

    Hey! He mentioned me! He did! He really did!

    Oh, okay, so, let’s see. First things first. but not literally, because this comes way down in both my post and his. Still, it is the most important thing to address right off:

    Re: my comment about not needing to engage with the substance: “Why engage? Surely because it is the only response that shows intellectual courage. If these ideas are so crazy, why can’t PZ Myers, or somebody, just tell me why? Why, instead do they have to do the name calling thing? I notice this is all you are doing here, too.”

    The ‘intellectual courage’ thing is telling, algi, and it dovetails with your obvious ignorance of all the people who have provided both formal and substantive critiques of the Waterpark Ancestor theory. This isn’t a crusade. This isn’t your proving grounds. I could give a shit whether you have intellectual courage or think that I do or don’t. What matters is whether this is a good theory, and despite your data-vomiting it isn’t. What’s more, PLENTY OF PEOPLE HAVE TOLD YOU WHY. We have ‘resorted’ to name-calling because we’re trying to get your attention, you witless fool.

    But on to the real issue:

    The formal objection –

    When discussing the evolutionary origins of various traits, we can frame the demands of parsimony with three axioms:

    1) For any given human trait x, ceteris paribus, an adaptive explanation that does not require positing a novel evolutionary stage is preferable to one that does.

    2) For any given human trait x, ceteris paribus, an exaptive explanation based on a known evolutionary stage is preferable to positing a novel evolutionary stage.

    3) Lack of good evidence for any of the adapative explanations for trait x {a1…an} is not, itself, evidence for adaptive explanation for trait x {an+1}.

    The “ceteris paribus” clause is meant to cover obvious absurdities, such as (under axiom 1) pitting an adaptive explanation based on known evolutionary stages that gets the biology wildly wrong v one that does not.

    Anyway, reliance on Fishstick-Lovin’ Apes to explain your six supposedly important traits fails, for all six. You are impressed by how well your story hangs together, but paranoid delusions tend to be self-consistent, as well – mere coherency is not and never has been a good test for the truth of any network of propositions, either individually or as a whole. This is a well-known puzzle for those who move to coherence theories of justification in the face of the problems of foundationalism, but that’s another discussion (albeit one I’d rather be having). But the simple fact is that all these traits save syntatic language have adequate explanations already.

    That’s what I mean by not having to engage with the substance of your hypothesis. I’ll spot you the claim that you don’t commit any absurd errors with regard to the biology or the timing of the development (although you do, notably with hairlessness and encephalization). But I’ll spot you that. But see, neither do the going explanations. Now we’re faced with two explanations, neither of which have committed any disqualifying errors, but one of which requires us to assume a whole other phase of human development previously unknown to us. If you’re both good on the technical side – and for the sake of argument here, we’re assuming you are – then the Waterslide Hominids lose anyway. They pack up the innertubes and go home, because the aesthetic appeal of a theory is no guide to its truth, nor a reason to favor it over something else that is already working.

    The rules of rationality are conservative. They hedge away falsehoods as best they can. We can’t demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that we WEREN’T given all those traits you mention by roving space aliens… but we have no rational reason to believe we were. The belief is literally “irrational.” But it’s not irrational SIMPLY because it is outlandish. Even prima facie plausible things can be irrational, because the canons of reason are capable also of distinguishing between two plausible choices as well as between a plausible one and an implausible one. Parsimony is a sharp knife, capable of make fine distinctions. And here, it cuts against Splash-Mountain Chimps.

    That’s the formal objection. There is, however, a final observation that I cannot pass over in silence. Your talk of intellectual courage is laughable given how you run to cling to the garments of the experts when they say something that you can twist to support your pet theory while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of experts think your pet theory is balderdash. Even those who do not comment directly on the Baywatch Ape hypothesis you ignore when they say something inconvenient for you, such as all those who have written on the origins of bipedalism.

    See, “as we do in academia,” we look with suspicion on any argument that does not directly engage with the evidence that would tend to tell against it. You do not directly address any of the problems of your theory in order to explain why they are not, in fact, problems. Nor do you motivate your theory well by showing the inadequacy of the existing explanations.

    So, on a purely formal basis, you fail. The very structure of your argument would earn an F from me in a Phil Science class. I don’t need to know whether you got the science right or not. It literally doesn’t matter, because a bad argument with true premises is still no justification for the conclusion.

  46. Dr Pepper says

    Ok, question relating to the saltwater version. The Briny Ape, as it were. Does our skin have any counter osmotic properties to resist loss of moisture from the tissues?

  47. jefrir says

    Arguing for menstrual synchrony seems to make more sense on the coasts where tidal changes would be dramatic and effect the whole populations.

    I’m really not sure what you’re on about here, especially as there is very little evidence for menstrual synchrony existing, and the important tidal changes happen on a daily, rather than monthly, basis.
    Also, if you are talking about sea coasts (which mention of tides would suggest you are) then your point about access to water is irrelevant; beaches are not any better supplied with drinkable water than inland areas are.

  48. says

    Kuliukas: You’re doing it again, so I’m going to impose another rule.

    NO FUCKING GISH GALLOPS.

    Stop. Pick one clear line of evidence that supports your hypothesis. Explain it and how it supports your claim and how it opposes alternative hypotheses. Give people something meaty to address rather than this scattershot chaos of one-liner assertions.

    That goes for everyone else, too. Avoid the temptation to address 50 points in one comment. They’re pretty much unreadable.

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Since crocodiles would be infesting the pools and rivers AK finds so appealing, and the crocodiles would ambush said apes/hominids with regularity for a tasty meal, if they were swimming and wading in the water, how does this help stabilize anything in the genes compared to troops who avoid being a meal for the crocodiles by remaining away from the water? AK avoids talking about predators who are present in water in typical blinders fashion.
    Aqueous predators like crocodiles actually provide support for the savannah theory.

  50. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    algiskuliukas:

    In the spirit and letter of PZ’s latest comment, I’ll address just one of your responses to my questions.

    v, Infant/Mother adiposity. Humans ca 15%, chimps 5%. Women have more sc fat than men, chimps are relatively sexually monomorphic in this area.
    […]
    Infant adiposity is clearly correlated with brain growth but it less clear whether fat babies were driven by large brains or vice versa. It makes little evolutionary sense to me that the mother should pump so much energetically expensive tissue into a new born baby as a kind of gamble that in 15 years or so it might make him a bit smarter. A much simpler, more stark, survival benefit to justify such a cost would appear to be to mitigate against the risk of drowning.

    Human babies are born with large heads and big brains. They are born smarter than other apes. They don’t have to wait until they are 15 years old or so! They are also born a great deal less physically developed in other ways, because so much growth time in the womb is dedicated to that big brain that they can barely fit through the birth canal as it is – thanks to that bipedalism and the associated hip girdle shape (though – which came first?). My boys, despite being all premature, required medical intervention to get them through, thanks to those big heads, and I’m not a petite woman.

    And none of my offspring were ever fat. They were (and are) all tall and skinny.

    The other thing about those big heads and weak bodies is that babies cannot hold their heads up, or even roll over onto their backs, for months after birth. Even with a terrestrial lifestyle, and careful monitoring, babies drown. Even tubby ones.

    Your suggestion that a big brain mitigates against drowning is simply not true – if anything, it actually makes drowning more likely, because a human infant’s weak neck simply cannot hold its head above water even if that water is only a couple of centimetres deep.

    I’m afraid that your point ‘v’ simply isn’t a point in favour of even an occasional watery excursion for a mother with an infant. The infant would have to be gripped very firmly by the mother to keep it from drowning and the mother would risk all sorts of horrible infections, not to mention attracting predators when she is in no fit state to escape them.

    On the contrary, large-brained, weak-bodied infants need to be kept well away from water if they are to survive. Body fat simply isn’t going to help them in any way.

  51. algiskuliukas says

    Re 59 Tigger

    They are born smarter than other apes. They don’t have to wait until they are 15 years old or so!

    The material point here is that being smarter than the average ape isn’t really going to give an infant a survival advantage for years, is it? Fat is a very energetically expensive tissue. It would make more evolutionary sense to keep that fat in the mother, rather than risk wasting it in the infant if it died. How long would the infant survive without mom anyway. So perhaps having a fat infant could have a more immediate survival benefit.

    My boys, despite being all premature, required medical intervention to get them through, thanks to those big heads, and I’m not a petite woman. And none of my offspring were ever fat. They were (and are) all tall and skinny.

    Well I’m pleased they were all born sucessfully and are well now. My wife is a midwife and I have four kids of my own so I have some knowledge of these matters myself.
    I could retort that my four were quite chubby at birth but individual cases are neither here nor there. It is a well known human universal that infants are born relatively fat compared to chimps, so I think you are barking up the wrong tree here.

    Your suggestion that a big brain mitigates against drowning is simply not true – if anything, it actually makes drowning more likely, because a human infant’s weak neck simply cannot hold its head above water even if that water is only a couple of centimetres deep. … On the contrary, large-brained, weak-bodied infants need to be kept well away from water if they are to survive. Body fat simply isn’t going to help them in any way

    I think you have misunderstood me. I’m not arguing that an infant’s big brain mitigates against drowning, but its fat. Fat floats, and therefore a fat infant will be more bouyant than a skinny one. I am, of course, assuming that the mother would be close at hand to quickly enact a rescue after it had perhaps just slipped from her arms into water.

    Put it this way, a chimp infant, being far less buoyant, would be far more likely to drown in such circumstances than a human infant.

    How, as a mother with kids, do you feel about the prospect of carrying a couple of them across the hot, dry, open savannah?

    Algis Kuliukas

  52. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It would make more evolutionary sense to keep that fat in the mother, rather than risk wasting it in the infant if it died. How long would the infant survive without mom anyway. So perhaps having a fat infant could have a more immediate survival benef

    But this is a consequence of savannah also, so it doesn’t do anything for your idea.

    I’m not arguing that an infant’s big brain mitigates against drowning, but its fat. Fat floats, and therefore a fat infant will be more bouyant than a skinny one.

    This is an armchair analysis, and has nothing to do with the real world. And babies routinely drown in a couple of inches of water. Doesn’t support your idea.

  53. Amphiox says

    How exactly is Algis’ Waterside Hypothesis distinguishable from the standard currently most widely accepted view, which is that human ancestors like A. afarensis were eurytopic (see http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/afarensis/hadar/hadar-paleoclimate-reed-2008.html) ie generalists who had inhabited a diverse variety of habitats with no marked preference for any of them? (This is what people these days generally mean when they say “savannah-based hypotheses” – the savannah so referenced is a diverse habitat, with grasses, stands of trees, and, yes rivers and lakes dotted throughout)

    In the standard view, human ancestors DID wade, on occasion. They DID swim, on occasion. They may even have dove, on occasion. They certainly frequented the water’s edge to drink. They harvested some small amount of food from the water’s edge. They crossed rivers.

    Hell, even modern great apes are known to wade and swim and cross rivers on occasion.

    In the other thread Algis has walked back about the amount of wading/swimming his hypothesis entails to as little as “one extra half hour per week” in his rhetoric. Even assuming he didn’t mean that *exactly*, that is LESS waterside exposure than the standard theory already accepts!

    In the standard view, the majority of humans’ distinguishing adaptions are posited to have arisen from selection pressures arising from the environments where they spent most of their time, ie terrestrial and/or in the trees, depending on which adaption and what time frame we are talking about. These adaptions, like upright locomotion, reduced body hair, and larger brains enabling greater behavioral complexity, once established, in turn enabled greater exploitation of waterside/aquatic resources. Humans’ ability to swim and greater comfort in the water compared to chimpanzees is therefore and exaption.

    If a creature is comfortable in a wide range of habitats, and uses the same set of adaptions in most of these habitats, it is more parsimonious to posit that an adaption arose from selection pressure applied in an environment where a creature spent the majority of its time, and that the use of these adaptions in the environment where it spends a minority of its time is an exaption.

    But Algis argues for the opposite. It is not sufficient for his hypothesis that he demonstrate only that human ancestors spent some of their time in water, he has to show that water was the dominant selection pressure that resulting in the traits he is positing. If he could show that human ancestors spent most of their time in the water, then he can assume the second part without additional evidence on grounds of parsimony.

    But he doesn’t do that. He seems to stay deliberate vague on exactly how much time in the water his hypothesis requires, and changes it depending on who he is talking to, but he has walked it all the way back to only a little bit of time, when faced with specific arguments on that point.

    Which leaves Algis with the task of showing why, for a creature that spent 90-95% of its time out of the water and 5-10% of its time in the water, selection pressure from the water would have a “profound” effect on its adaptions, but selection pressure out of the water would not.

    Again, if you could show that the majority of the time were spent in the water, you can assume the next step on parsimony.

    But since Algis insists that his hypothesis does not require majority time in the water, he has to do the math. He has to show, with real numbers for things like fitness factors and selection coefficients, how selection when in the water 5-10% (or whatever value he settles on) of the time is significant, while selection when out of the water 90-95% of the time is not.

    Otherwise, terrestrial alternatives are preferred on parsimony grounds. So for bipedalism, bipedal walking along branches as secondary support for brachiation in the trees is more parsimonious simply because the apes in question spent more time in the trees than they did in the water, or bipedal walking among tall savannah grasses is more parsimonious simply because the apes in question spent more time among those grasses than wading in the water.

    Without such numbers, what Algis has is something that cannot be distinguished from the mainstream view as it already stands, which makes it 1) untestable (because there is no evidence that can distinguish it from the mainstream alternative hypothesis) and 2) irrelevant (because it offers no insight different from the standard view which already includes a small amount of waterside activity), and that which is both untestable and irrelevant is not science.

    Unless, of course, Algis wants to concede that what he is proposing really IS no different from the standard accepted view (that human ancestors spent most of their time in diverse terrestrial habitats and ALSO exploited the waterside to a small degree when the opportunity or need arose). In which case we should all be rather embarrassed. Algis, because he has spent decades of his life devoted to an idea he thought was maverickily different from the standard view but which actually has already been widely accepted in the mainstream for decades, and us, because we have spent over a month on a 1500+ comment thread arguing with what we thought was a kook idea when in fact it was just a trivial variant of the mainstream idea accepted for over a decade, and we didn’t realize it because Algis described it in non-standard language.

  54. ohsu says

    Evidence:

    Cerling et al (2011) — 100% of suspected human ancestors from the past 6 million years up to the emergence of modern humans live in open woodland wooded grassland, or grassland.

    Algis can snark all he wants about “how do you explain breasts in the context of the savanna??? har, har, har”, but the fact is that human ancestors DID LIVE IN THE FUCKING SAVANNA. I don’t have to rack by brain imagining how our ancestors could have survived there, because THAT’S WHERE THEIR FUCKING FOSSIL ARE FOUND!! Moreover, modern human hunter gatherers still live there!!

    Arguing that we didn’t or couldn’t have lived where we demonstrably DID live and demonstrably CAN live is FUCKING MORONIC.

    Mirceta et al (2013) — Humans did not dive more than chimps.

    Chimps actually score higher on the myglobing ranking than humans do! Now Algis can (and undoubtedly will) point out that humans are in the same range as manatees, and argue that we must have swum and dived as much as manatees… but then so did chimps.

    The point isn’t how humans compare with some aquatic animal. The point is how humans compare with CHIMPS.

    *Of course, the manatee ranking is an outlier for actual aquatic mammals. It isn’t normal at all. And the reason is because compared to other aquatic mammals it has an extraordinarily slow metabolism. Humans do NOT have an extraordinarily slow metabolism compared to other primates. So, if we had been aquatic we would not have a low myoglobin score compared to them.

    The bottom line, humans did NOT swim and dive more than chimps.

    —————————————-

    Two HUGE problems for Algis’s story. How do you explain with EVIDENCE, not hand-waving, excuse making, and conspiracy theories, how it is that the EVIDENCE places 100% of human ancestors in open woodland, wooded grassland, and grassland, and myoglobin studies confirm that humans did NOT swim and dive more than chimps?

  55. Amphiox says

    Of course, the manatee ranking is an outlier for actual aquatic mammals. It isn’t normal at all. And the reason is because compared to other aquatic mammals it has an extraordinarily slow metabolism. Humans do NOT have an extraordinarily slow metabolism compared to other primates. So, if we had been aquatic we would not have a low myoglobin score compared to them.

    If Algis wants to propose some OTHER mechanism in humans besides low metabolism to explain the low myoglobin score in humans, he is free to do so. But the onus is on him to do so and validate it.

  56. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Algis, as Nerd pointed out, you completely ignored where I said that infants frequently drown in piddling depths of water, in circumstances where body fat is simply irrelevent. Even in deeper water, even if I grant you that many human infants have more body fat than the average infant chimpanzee, they simply do not have enough fat to counter the mass of the skull and its contents; and even if they did, its in the wrong place. Having a chubby body will not keep an infant’s face out of the water.

    Chimp mothers and human mothers are well aware of this, and routinely keep their infants away from water.

    When a modern human mother takes her infant into water with her, it is usually in a supervised setting in a secure man-made swimming pool and the infant is wearing bouyancy aids – because human infants do not float. In cultures where mothers have to enter water to collect drinking water or do laundry, they are using clothing as a tool to keep the infant out of the water, tied to their mother’s back. What clothing did our ancestors wear, again?

    And this has been pointed out to you before. What keeps a person from drowning is the ability to control the air in their lungs, not body fat, and enough strength in their neck muscles to hold their head above water enough of the time to take in plenty of air.

    As a mother of five – two of them twins – I would far, far rather carry them across a savannah than a river. On solid ground, I can stop and rest whenever I need to, and the infant(s) can safely crawl around my feet. In water? Forget it. Even with modern carrying equipment. As a prehistoric ‘naked’ ape with infants that are too weak to cling to me even if I did have fur? No chance of doing any kind of foraging at all.

    Nothing you said in your reply to me encourages me to think that you have anything to support a watery lifestyle except a fantasy.

  57. kevinalexander says

    OK, I’ve read the evidence so I’ll ask a question instead.
    The forests dry up.
    The grasslands spread.
    The hominids stand up and start walking.
    They walk as far as they can taking advantage of every kind of environment and food source available.
    Some of them at some point can’t walk any farther because water happens.
    There’s lots of good food there where the tide goes I and out so they stay because being bipedal and having grasping hands makes them already pre adapted to getting the goods here.

    My question is: If any species sprnds any amount of time in some environment, how does it avoid further adapting to that environment?

  58. says

    Ah ha…then all that male upper body strength is a bi product of hoisting all those infants above water. (That was mainly sarcasm, it’s usually hard to tell on line. Say mainly because carrying a slower and fairly hefty child away from danger is still probably a bit of a survival skill somewhere down the line.)

    Problem is, I can see the water looking quite appealing to some of our pregnant ancestors.
    Less mobile but still smart and dexterous, why not learn to fish, teach the kids, teach the grandkids. Stay alert, stay out of the murky water, we block the stream or rockpool off, return later, then make like wading birds. She’ll be back pursuing red meat with the rest of the sweaty and increasingly hairless troop, but better keep the eye in with some fishing. Just don’t stay in too long, trench foot really cuts into being able to run to and away from things.
    And why hold the baby when the rest of your group love babies they’re related too and probably keep spraining things, pulling muscles as they wander and hunt. They can look after it for a bit as they rest up, hone the tools and watch for predators.

    But we’re definitely beyond mere ape at this juncture, way out of the trees.

    Sorry but it’s looking like the argument’s been going on long enough to get so polarised you’d rather insist our ancestors were utterly f**king blind to water than agree with this guy on anything at all so…have a compromise.

  59. says

    I’d certainly like to hear a convincing counterargument to the drowning babies. Fat may float, but it seems to me if that fat isn’t mostly concentrated in the baby’s face, it’s naturally going to orient with its face underwater, regardless of its overall buoyancy. Floating doesn’t do the baby any good if its heavy skull is pointing downward. You know, underwater.

    On top of that, we’re talking about babies in the wilderness, where fat is often a hot commodity. If anyone can provide data on the average birth weight of bushmen babies or such, I’d like to know. I doubt our obesity-stricken first world nation birth weights would be terribly relevant.

  60. Amphiox says

    When a modern human mother takes her infant into water with her, it is usually in a supervised setting in a secure man-made swimming pool and the infant is wearing bouyancy aids – because human infants do not float.

    The earlier versions of the AAH generally posited a more aquatic past than modern humans. So things like this were explained away as a vestige. See, the original aquatic ape babies really did float with all their fat, but in the 2-odd million years since Homo went back to the grasslands, we’ve evolved back in the other direction to some degree, so the babies no longer float.

    Algis’ version abandons all that, though.

  61. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    The counter-argument to the soggy ape idea isn’t that our ancestors had nothing to do with water; just that the amount of time they spent in and around water wasn’t significant enough compared to the time spent in other environments to make a difference in the way we evolved; and, moreover, that the traits that they are insisting are accounted for by time spent in water are nothing of the sort. Not only are they easily explained by other factors, for which there is evidence, some of them are actively harmful in water.

    As Amphiox has pointed out, Algis himself has backpedalled the amount of time that he thinks our ancestors spent in water to pretty much exactly what the scientific consensus is; at this point, the only difference between our views is that he thinks that 5% of our environment had more influence on our evolution than 95% did, but has no evidence to back up his suggestion.

    I agree with Amy Cocks that floating in water whilst pregnant is pretty appealing; but certainly not in crocodile- and hippopotamus-infested waters! And while leaving infants with the rest of the tribe is a sensible way to keep them safe whilst mother forages, that scenario further undermines Algis’ assertion that babies are fat so they’ll float.

  62. Amphiox says

    But we’re definitely beyond mere ape at this juncture, way out of the trees.

    The earliest evidence for this sort of aquatic exploitation that I am aware dates to around the origin of H. sapiens itself.

    Algis and co. even tried to claim such citations as support for their claims, not noticing that the timescale is 3-8 million years off.

  63. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    From David M’s long post… don’t know original source:

    increased adipocity

    Hmmm. Now I have to put Adipo City in one of my RPGs.

  64. says

    So when I ask Kuliukas to “pick one clear line of evidence that supports your hypothesis,” his choice is “fat babies float”?

    Please. Do continue.

  65. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Algis:

    Fat is a very energetically expensive tissue….. . Fat floats, and therefore a fat infant will be more bouyant than a skinny one. I am, of course, assuming that the mother would be close at hand to quickly enact a rescue after it had perhaps just slipped from her arms into water.

    So you are saying that a waterside mom gives painful birth to a very expensive life-preserver, and then keeps the infant in it, all the time she is walking around near the water, just in case she drops it on the family’s weekly wade down at the old swimming hole. Does your waterpark not have a you-must-be-this-tall sign? No nursing mothers allowed?

    Couldn’t she just slip out a skinny infant, and force-feed him on buoyant breastmilk and crushed clams?

    Put it this way, a chimp infant, being far less buoyant, would be far more likely to drown in such circumstances than a human infant.

    You have no way of knowing how fat babies were back then, when humans were living much like chimps, nor how fat a chimp baby would be if born to a fat chimp mom.

    You do have ways of knowing that fat isn’t bouyant, because we’ve showed you evidence.

    How, as a mother with kids, do you feel about the prospect of carrying a couple of them across the hot, dry, open savannah?

    First, there’d likely only be one kid at a time. Mothers nurse until the kid can walk, then get another.

    Second, your water-adjacents did just as much moving about on land, lugging their little lardballs.

    Third, the tradition seems to be that mothers stay put and the rest of the troupe goes walking about.

    The “hot, dry, open savannah” was Elaine Morgan’s strawman scenario, as has been said often. Savanna is not the bitter edge of the Sahara (and why the fuck do you think people would live there if it was?). Savannah is anything between desert and jungle that isn’t open plains. Kinda like Hyde Park there in Perth, WA, or the whole city of Perth. What we humans seem to prefer, you know, trees in grass. Not heat-scorched scrub. And we’ve covered that often.

    So it’s more like, “As a mother with kids, how about you sit here in the shade while I go get you a nice lunch.”

    Re 46 Menyambal

    after Algis said no monkeys walked bipedally, only apes

    I never said that but as misrepresentation is the hallmark of aquaskeptics, no-one should be surprised.

    Algis, in http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/04/28/best-response-to-the-aquatic-ape-nonsense-yet/comment-page-2/#comment-631060 you said:

    Of all the Mammalian species, only our great ape cousins switch from quaddrupedalism on dry land to bipedalism in water.

    And I showed you a vid of some baboons doing just that. Evidence.

    And why, Algis, if yours is not the Aquatic Ape thingy, are you in here in what was an Aquatic Ape thread, suggesting a medal for Elaine Morgan, and strewing about her strawmen? Why not just piss off and let her sink, or join your friend in calling her gendered insults?

    Why do you say the name and scenario has changed by consensus, then refer us to a book with YOUR name on it?

  66. Ogvorbis says

    By Algis’ reasoning, I’m damn safe. I am overweight by about a hundred pounds. I have lots of fat. Fat floats. So, if I go whitewater rafting, Algis, should I say no to the life vest?

  67. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    And here’s a PDF of low-birthweight* by country.

    *Defined as up to and including 2,499 grams, irrespective of gestational age.

    The average birthweight of a child in a modern country is 3400 g.

    My children weighed from 3175 g down to 1857 g. As I said before, not one of them could have been described as fat; all were below the average (largely due to being born between three and six weeks early), although only the youngest was officially of low birthweight.

  68. says

    Neat link, Tigger. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any African nations in the list. Went through the trouble of looking at a Wikipedia list, just in case I missed unfamiliar names.

    Minor beneficial side effect of this little exercise: Now I know where some of my X-COM soldiers are from, since the wiki list included flags.

  69. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    I think Alexandra must have been reading that thread in her sleep, because her summary was uncannily accurate! =^_^=

  70. jefrir says

    Wouldn’t it be simpler just to assume that fat in infants serves the same purpose as fat in adults – an energy store, in case of future shortages.

  71. says

    Wouldn’t it be simpler just to assume that fat in infants serves the same purpose as fat in adults – an energy store, in case of future shortages.

    That Occam guy certainly makes a sharp razor.

  72. ChasCPeterson says

    Does our skin have any counter osmotic properties to resist loss of moisture from the tissues?

    well, sure. I mean, otherwise we’d dry to potato chips on land. The same layers of keratinized skin cells keep water in in either situation.

    Aqueous predators like crocodiles

    I can’t resist pointing out that all life as we know it is aqueous.

    Having a chubby body will not keep an infant’s face out of the water.

    Of course it won’t. That’s why I suggested that this is the kind of putative aquatic adaptation I’d accept.

    If any species sprnds any amount of time in some environment, how does it avoid further adapting to that environment?

    sorry, what? Avoiding adaptation is not something a species can do. But adaptation requires a correlation between phenotype and reproductive success in the environment in question.
    An ecologically flexible generalist species is unlikely to experience such correlation, since by definition it can already exist/reproduce in a variety of environments.

    have a compromise.

    Great idea; we’ll compromise.
    So let’s say bipedality, head hair, and fat babies for the WHHE team and we savannahistas will take relative hairlessness and the rest.
    Done!

    we’re definitely beyond mere ape at this juncture

    uh huh.
    That should be the Official Motto of Human Exceptionalism:

    Beyond Mere Ape!!1!

  73. David Marjanović says

    PZ, I’m not sure what you mean by “unreadable”. Perhaps you expected my comments to be well-rounded essays? I can see how such an assumption would make them unreadable. They were never meant to be coherent wholes; I collect all points that my SIWOTI syndrome notices, and I reply to them one by one. Because they lack a beginning or an end, length is irrelevant – they’re not blog posts by Dan Fincke.

    But I think I’ve found a way to make shorter comments anyway: by grouping my replies by topic.

    This comment will be about science theory.

    This might be a circular argument but it is no more circular than most ideas about human evolution that are taught in universities today.

    Tu quoque, “you too”, is a logical fallacy. If what’s taught today is circular, that’s bad for today’s universities, not good for “river apes… coastal people”.

    “It’s no worse than current textbook wisdom” is not an argument in favor of a new hypothesis – even though it’s not an argument in favor of current textbook wisdom either.

    As for the false dichotomy thing… surely the point here is that in historical sciences such as these, there is an inevitable paucity of evidence which makes Popperian-style falsification difficult. Therefore the best we can do is evaluate competing hypotheses in terms of their plausibility and evidence. How much evidence is consistent with a, b, c etc ? Is there any evidence that controverts them? How plausible are they?

    No, as a palaeontologist, let me say that the historical sciences are not special in kind, only in degree. To evaluate a hypothesis in terms of evidence means falsification. Where several hypotheses are indistinguishable in terms of evidence, parsimony kicks in as usual (“plausibility” being a vague, subjective approximation of parsimony); and actually, a lot of parsimony is hidden in falsification anyway.

    Compare and contrast: “a simple, testable definition” and “.. makes Popperian-style falsification difficult”.

    Easy – one has the word “falsification” in it, the other one doesn’t.

    Popperian falsification is the ideal, but difficult in palaeoanthropology. The best we can hope for is to try to provide testable predictions.

    …Oh for fuck’s sake.

    “Testable” means “falsifiable”.

    (After all, nothing is verifiable.)

    You are impressed by how well your story hangs together, but paranoid delusions tend to be self-consistent, as well – mere coherency is not and never has been a good test for the truth of any network of propositions, either individually or as a whole.

    Never mind paranoid delusions! The Space Ape “Hypothesis” is self-consistent. That’s its whole point!

  74. Amphiox says

    Aqueous predators like crocodiles

    I can’t resist pointing out that all life as we know it is aqueous.

    Technically, while all life possesses aqueous components, no life is in itself, aqueous. It’s in suspension.

  75. Amphiox says

    Falsification in a historical science like paleontology can take many forms. The most simple is this: is there a kind of fossil that, if found, would not be consistent with my hypothesis?

  76. David Marjanović says

    Geography and taphonomy

    The vast majority of fossils that have been found were formed in depositional substrates.

    I’m sorry, this is technobabble – the terms you use exist, but they don’t mean anything in this combination. You mean “sediments”, not “substrates”, and sediments can only form on depositional surfaces as opposed to erosional ones.

    Most sediments are deposited by water. The rest are deposited by wind (sand dunes, Löss).

    Thousands have been attributed to human ancestors, only one(?) chimp. This is not proof that our ancestors lived by the water’s edge more than chimps but it is consistent with that proposition.

    It is, but it doesn’t explain why chimps are so extremely rare in the fossil record.

    As I mentioned long, long ago, rainforests (both soils and water) are generally too acidic to preserve fossils. If chimps have always lived almost exclusively in rainforests, while our ancestors have lived in woodland and even drier places for the last 4 million years, this nicely explains the discrepancy.

    Finally, the second of the papers linked to from comment 559 of the previous thread shows, as I said, a nice chart with both carbon and oxygen isotopes in the remains of giraffes, zebras, pigs, hippos, and Australopithecus afarensis. I’ve already told you what it says, I won’t repeat it.

    My number 10 refers to the whole rift valley. The whole thing under water.

    Instead, Lake Victoria* disappeared and reappeared several times. That’s why its cichlid radiation is nested deeply within the cichlid radiation of Lake Malawi.

    * That’s the shallow one. The others are wannabe oceans, part of the rift instead of lying between two of its branches; they’re way too deep to fall dry or be filled by sediments in a few million years.

    Parasites

    Re evidence of parasites as markers of a waterside ancestry for humans.

    Ashford, R W (2000). Parasites as indicators of human biology and evolution. J Med Microbiol Vol:49 Pages:771-772

    Ah, now we’re talking, I thought. Finally!

    I was disappointed.

    Only the 2nd-to-last paragraph mentions that there are 4 species of parasites that are only transmitted when we enter water. In the last paragraph, Ashford repeats the finding reported on the first page that our intestinal parasites are more like those of baboons than those of our fellow African apes – and concludes “that the folivorous diet of the great African apes”, none of which are in fact folivorous like a proboscis monkey, “must be a recent specialisation that has developed since our evolutionary paths separated”, fitting neither the fossil record nor the fact that this would have had to happen twice independently and then twice more for the orang-utans and the gibbons, “and that they have acquired their unique parasites (some of whose closest relatives are in horses!) by host transfer, relatively recently.” Of course Ashford doesn’t even try to date when any host might have acquired any parasite. “The implication here is that the ancestor of the ape-human [...yeah, whatever...] had feeding habits more like ours, and those of baboons, than those of any modern ape. The Homo/Pan/Gorilla ancestor of some 5–8 million years ago was therefore an omnivore, so terrestrial, and quite possibly bipedal. We are not, then, according to our parasites, specialised apes, but apes are specialised humans! Since the fossil record is so conspicuously lacking in any ancestry for the African apes, the parasitological evidence may be the best we have.”

    Yeah. By that point, I wasn’t surprised that it’s an editorial without acknowledgements rather than a peer-reviewed paper.

    On the beginning of the same page, Ashford acknowledges that we have acquired new parasites after spreading out of Africa. Can’t we, then, have acquired baboon parasites from living with baboons (possibly eating them on occasion, as chimps do today) in the savanna?

    That’s the first question a reviewer would have asked.

  77. Amphiox says

    The first step for Algis on his latest tangent is to demonstrate that chubby babies in humans is a heritable trait, and not purely an environmental consequence of modern diets.

    If a trait is not heritable it is not relevant to evolutionary hypotheses.

    Having demonstrated that the trait is heritable, the next step for Algis is to identify the genes responsible and show that they are different from the chimpanzee version, and then date the divergence to produce a time frame in which the selection that caused the differences occurred.

    Because, as Algis so helpfully pointed out, this is a historical science we are talking about, and you can’t even begin to talk about history without a DATE.

    Then, and only then, is it even valid to start talking about what and how selection pressures may have affected that trait.

  78. anthrosciguy says

    Wouldn’t it be simpler just to assume that fat in infants serves the same purpose as fat in adults – an energy store, in case of future shortages.

    Caroline Pond, with one hell of a lot of research under her belt, has found that the primary purpose of fat in everything is as an energy store. There are secondary uses as shaping, either as sexual selection (her conclusion for humans) or hydrodynamics (her conclusion in cetaceans and pinnipeds). But energy is the main thing. (She also points out that although a lot of people, even among scientists, think it’s often an adaptation for thermoregulation, this doesn’t square with tests, plus how fat is used up (nearest the skin goes first, even for cold-weather creatures).

    On to infant fat specifically. BTW, Algis has been schooled on this infant fat material many times, as you can see if you like by reading this compilation of posts at TRF:
    http://www.talkrational.org/showthread.php?p=1370597#post1370597

    The main paper I feel addresses this is by Christopher W. Kuzawa, “Adipose Tissue in Human Infancy and Childhood: An Evolutionary Perspective” in Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 41:177–209, 1998

    First things first: if infant fat in humans evolved to prevent drowning, we’d expect it to actually work. But instead drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for infants (either first or second depending on the year, competing with car crashes). This alone puts a major crimp in the idea that this feature evolved as an anti-drowning aid.

    Another aspect of this is that among both chimps, bonobos, and gathering-hunting humans infants are generally with a caregiver very close by all the time. The chance of them going off and drowning, at a rate high enough to provide selection pressure for a radically different, unique, feature, seems unlikely at best. There’s certainly no evidence that it happened.

    Okay, now to make sure we know that human infants are fattier in general than other mammalian infants. Table 1 in Kuzawa’s paper shows that it is. In his table he also has birth weights and references, but here I’ll just list the fat percentages:

    Kuzawa has the info for infant mammals in [URL="http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/anth161/kuzawa1998.pdf"]Table 1 of his paper[/URL]. He has birth weights and reference for each in the table, but here’s the percentage of fat at birth. Note the lack of correlation with habitat and climate.

    % of fat at birth

    Human 15
    Guinea pig 10.8
    Harp seal 10.4
    Fur seal 6
    Sea lions 4.8
    Reindeer 4.4
    Baboon 3
    Lamb 3
    Calf 2.8
    Foal 2.6
    Black bear 2.3
    Mouse 2.1
    Elephant seal 2
    Rabbit 2
    Cat 1.8
    Caribou 1.8
    Pig 1.3
    Rat 1.1
    Hamster 1

    In that list note the lack of correlation with habitat and climate.

    Kuzawa notes that the unique fattiness of human infants is due to the also unique secondarily altriciality (we’re born altricial in some features and not in others) of humans and our large brains. But the extra fat isn’t for brain growth per se; it’s because the human infant’s brain is a big organ relative to body size which inflexible in its energy requirements.

    “Humans are unsurpassed among mammals for which data are available in the size and energetic cost of their brain, and this feature is pronounced during infancy, when the brain consumes an estimated 50–60% of the body’s available energy.” — Kuzawa ibid.

    and

    “Data on the mass and chemical composition of the human brain are available for the first year of life, allowing calculation of substrate deposition in the growing brain during this period of rapid cerebral expansion (Schulz et al., 1961; White et al., 1991). These figures reveal that the requirements of brain growth are trivial relative to cerebral energy needs and account for a small fraction of the body’s total growth expenditure during this period. As shown in Table 3, most of the mass of the brain is water, with fat and protein accounting for only about 9.4% (44.5 g) and 10.1% (47.7 g), respectively, of brain growth during the first year of life. This represents only 3% of the 1,740 g of lipid and 6% of the 804 g of protein deposited in the growing infant body between birth and 12 months of age (male/female average from Fomon et al., 1982). Even in the adult, roughly 12% of brain weight is lipid, suggesting that the lifetime lipid requirement for brain growth contributes minimally to total body lipid deposition.” — Kuzawa ibid.

    The extra fat is an energy store for times of nutritional stress.

    “Evidence is presented that fat stores are mobilized during infections, hinting at one possible mechanism underlying the association between nutritional status and infectious morbidity and mortality among infants in nutritionally stressed human populations. Consistent with the proposed hypothesis, well-fed infants acquire peak fat reserves by an age of peak prevalence of malnutrition, infectious disease, and fat reserve depletion in less-buffered contexts, and childhood—characterized by minimal investment in the tissue—is a stage of reduced risk of energy stress.” – Kuzawa, ibid.

    Algis has objected to this by saying that in times of nutritional stress on an infant the infant would just get more nutrition from the mother. Despite repeated explanations he has not managed to grasp that many times, perhaps most, when there is nutritional stress on an infant it’s because there is nutritional stress on the mother. And there is no particular reason a mother could simply supply extra nutrition to a sick infant (or that the infant could accept it).

    Another Algis objection was that we’d expect to see this same infant fat in chimps, since they also would have infant disease and occasional times of malnutrition. But he doesn’t seem able (or willing) to grasp that chimps don’t have our large infant brains. In fact this linkage — a unique feature (lots of infant fat) due to another unique feature (uniquely large infant brain relative to body size) — should seem pretty obvious once its pointed out. His objection there fits into a collection of such objections from him that amount to “why are there still monkeys” type questions.

  79. Amphiox says

    One feature that stands out in all of Algis’ arguments which he has never addressed is that, even on basic logic, his idea fails to do what he claims it does. Namely, it does NOT, logically or coherently, even when granted all the assumptions, explain the phenotypic difference between humans and chimps, in the trait Algis most focuses on, that of locomotion.

    Not at all.

    First, we have to consider what actually is the difference in locomotion between humans and chimps? That difference is that humans are near-obligate bipeds on land. It is not merely that humans are bipedal. As we have already seen in the fossil record, the LCA of humans and chimpanzees, and indeed most likely the LCA of all the apes, greater and lesser, was facultatively bipedal. It walked bipedally some of the time, most likely in trees as a supplement to a proto-brachiation style of movement. In the gibbon line, brachiation was elaborated, while bipedal walking was maintained but reduced in importance. In the great apes bipedal walking was reduced in tree climbing as size increased, but retained on the ground partially as seen in orangutans, reduced further and supplanted with knucklewalking in chimpanzees and gorillas, and retained and then expanded in human ancestors.

    And chimps and gorillas are still FACULTATIVELY bipedal. They will walk bipedally for short distances for a wide variety of reasons. When carrying food, when doing a threat display, and crucially, as Algis so likes to point out, when wading in water.

    What this means is that there is no difference between human and chimpanzee locomotion in the water from the point of view of wading. We BOTH go bipedal when wading in the water. What is DIFFERENT between us is that chimpanzees go quadrupedal ON LAND, while we go bipedal ON LAND.

    THAT is the difference that needs to be explained, and as anyone can plainly see, Algis’ waterside hypothesis does not satisfactorily explain why this is at all.

    If, as Algis tries to insist, wading in water is the only reasonable selection pressure that can produce bipedal locomotion (basically the heart of his argument), and selection pressures on land simply cannot be considered reasonable for producing bipedal locomotion, such that EVEN WITH A TIME DIVISION of 95% on land and 5% on water it is STILL necessary to attribute the WATER selection forces to the development of bipedalism, then why didn’t human ancestors simply just do what chimpanzees are still doing, namely go bipedal IN THE WATER, but go quadrupedal ON LAND?

    What is the reason that human ancestors ended up going bipedal ON LAND? The LCA was FACULTATIVELY BIPEDAL already, it could go bipedal for brief periods when it wanted to, and switch to other locomotive patterns in other situations. Thus for the LCA to move into water required NO CHANGE. It just goes bipedal when wading, which is something it could already do.

    The question is therefore what was it that caused the human line after the split to give up the flexibility of facultative bipedalism and adopt OBLIGATE bipedalism ON LAND? And Algis’ waterside hypothesis DOES NOT EXPLAIN THIS AT ALL. The other, more exclusively aquatic AAH’s could – they could posit that the facultatively bipedal LCA, after venturing into the water, spent so much time in the water wading bipedally that it lost the ability to use other forms of locomotion, simply because in the water they were not needed, such that when they finally left the water and returned to land as the Homo genus, they had to walk bipedally because that was all they could do now.

    But Algis’ proposal retains a split between land and water, and indeed is willing to concede that the majority of the time is on land. It provides NO SELECTION PRESSURE WHATSOEVER to cause a facultatively bipedal LCA to switch to obligate bipedalism ON LAND. It provides absolutely no impetus for the LCA to change what it was doing already, which is facultative bipedalism, wading bipedally in water when convenient, and then, when on land, switching back to whatever mode of locomotion it was previously using on land.

    Unless, of course, that mode of locomotion it was already using on land was already bipedal walking on land. But that still means that the waterside idea does not explain why humans and chimpanzees are different in that humans walk bipedally ON LAND, while chimpanzees go quadrupedal ON LAND.

  80. ChasCPeterson says

    Technically, while all life possesses aqueous components, no life is in itself, aqueous. It’s in suspension.

    Depends on what the meaning of the words “life” and “is” are.

    Caroline Pond, with one hell of a lot of research under her belt, has found that the primary purpose of fat in everything is as an energy store. There are secondary uses as shaping,…hydrodynamics (her conclusion in cetaceans and pinnipeds)….(She also points out that although a lot of people, even among scientists, think it’s often an adaptation for thermoregulation, this doesn’t square with tests, plus how fat is used up (nearest the skin goes first, even for cold-weather creatures).

    The function of pinniped blubber in thermoregulation is well demonstrated and I’m unaware of any “tests” that don’t “square with” that. Can you be specific?

    On more point: Folks need to watch for unwarranted conflation. ‘Fat’, ‘fats’, and ‘lipids’ are three different things. I store fats (triacylglycerides) in depots of ‘fat’ (adipose tissue), and although my brain contains plenty of lipids, they are the phospholipids of cell membranes (inc. myelin), not fats or fat.

  81. Tethys says

    Fat floats, and therefore a fat infant will be more bouyant than a skinny one. I am, of course, assuming that the mother would be close at hand to quickly enact a rescue after it had perhaps just slipped from her arms into water.

    I gave birth to three of them, all of them were at the 98- 99% for weight and height, so they were quite plump at birth. I also spent a large portion of summer poolside, and had a < 2m deep river in my front yard while raising the sprogs. I assure you that infants are not bouyant. Toddlers also are not bouyant, and children of all ages sink like stones. All three (and their friends and relatives) fell or jumped in on multiple occasions , and had to be fished out.

    Because of these facts, all of my children learned to swim very young ( 2-2.5 yrs), and were strictly prohibited from going near the water without a flotation device until they were ten years old or so.

    I also want to point out that on the savannah*, you can put the child down. How is your aquatic mother supposed to sleep, and hold her infant at the same time?

    *Mesic biome adapted to seasonal drought and fire.

    A large percentage of the fat on an infant is in fact, the brain itself. The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat.

    Here is a review of the subject.Adipose tissue in human infancy and childhood

    Evidence is presented that fat stores are mobilized during infections, hinting at one possible mechanism underlying the association between nutritional status and infectious morbidity and mortality among infants in nutritionally stressed human populations. Consistent with the proposed hypothesis, well-fed infants acquire peak fat reserves by an age of peak prevalence of malnutrition, infectious disease, and fat reserve depletion in less-buffered contexts, and childhood–characterized by minimal investment in the tissue–is a stage of reduced risk of energy stress. The model presented here foregrounds energy storage in adipose tissue as an important life-history strategy and a means to modify mortality risk during the nutritionally turbulent period of infancy.

    The fossil evidence shows quite conclusively that the extra fat was obtained by eating meat, with elands being a favorite amoung australopithicus sp. In addition to all the isotope evidence cited in the previous thread, this source goes into the subject in great detail.

    Evolutionary Perspectives on Fat Ingestion and Metabolism in Humans

    The ultimate driving factors responsible for the rapid evolution of brain size, body size, and craniodental anatomy at this stage of human evolution appear to have been major environmental changes that promoted shifts in diet and foraging behavior. The environment in East Africa at the Plio-Pleistocene boundary (2.0–1.8 mya) was becoming much drier, resulting in declines in forested areas and an expansion of open woodlands and grasslands. Such changes in the African landscape likely made animal foods an increasingly attractive resource for our hominid ancestors

    Citations removed for readability.

    Elands and gazelles were the food items involved. There is no evidence for increased consumption of fish, or seafood of any sort, by any species of extinct hominid.

  82. Tethys says

    I am amused that while I was researching and writing about fat and human evolution, anthrosciguy made comment 90 and we quoted the exact same relevant paragraph from different sources.

  83. David Marjanović says

    Several Skype calls later, I still haven’t posted all of my reply…

    Elands and gazelles were the food items involved.

    Elands are fucking huge, and they’re not mentioned in the article you link to.

  84. David Marjanović says

    Bipedality!

    i, Bipedality (we’re 100% obligate bipeds, chimps, according to Hunt 1994 are 3% – and 80% of that was postural feeding in trees)

    Gibbons are 100 % obligate bipeds, too. And I don’t know what the number for orang-utans is; it’s not 100 %, but apparently it’s well above 3 %. And yes, in both cases, that’s walking, not just standing.

    i, Wading helps. There is no other scenario on the planet which would guarrantee bipedal locomotion in otherwise quadrupedal great apes then waist/chest deep water.

    But why start with a quadrupedal great ape? Gibbons and orang-utans, along with Afropithecus, Oreopithecus and Pierolapithecus, cast great doubt on the notion that quadrupedality is the ancestral condition for great apes.

    Without postulating any wading factor, why would those great apes that stopped climbing vertically be the ones that became bipedal, whereas the ones that continued doing so became quadupedal?

    Brachiating great apes never became bipedal, they already were bipedal, having inherited this condition from their last few common ancestors with the brachiating lesser apes. The ones that became quadrupedal 1) spend much less time in trees than the brachiators do, and 2) have shorter arms, because they brachiate much less even when they climb. Chimps and gorillas are not arboreal, they forage mostly on the forest floor, and they move from A to B by walking on the ground, not by swinging from tree to tree like a gibbon.

    Yes, that old one (Sir Arthur Keith 1923). Funny how, if this was so obvious, the Hylobatian model of bipedalism is so unpopular in university level texts.

    It was unpopular for decades, because few people knew gibbons are bipedal, even fewer knew how often orang-utans walk bipedally, Oreopithecus was very poorly known, and Afropithecus and Pierolapithecus hadn’t been discovered yet.

    Gibbons are highly specialised. They’re bipedal on the ground mainly because their arms are so long relative to their legs (intermembral index of approx 130) they’d still be upright even if they moved quadrupedally.

    Please cite the fosssil evidence that shows that the LCA of all the great apes was a brachiator, like gibbons.

    Any Miocene ape that is well enough known (except Proconsul, if indeed Proconsul was an ape). All of them.

    The only additional adaptation of gibbons to brachiation I know that all other apes lack is their extra-mobile wrist. That’s all.

    Whatever the ancestral condition of the LCA, we still have to explain the differences today. The fact that extant great apes today (largely quadrupedal) will all, with 100% certainty, move bipedally for as long as the conditions prevail is pertinent to this debate because if the LCA was a largely wading-climbing biped then removing the wading component would clearly be a key step in why chimps and gorillas became quadrupeds.

    As Amphiox has now expounded on in comment 92…

    In your 2002 paper you proposed that Lucy waded bipedally but knuckle-walked on land. Now, the evidence says Lucy specifically didn’t do this, but it would make plenty of sense as a scenario for an unspecified human ancestor. So, why haven’t we kept these two modes of locomotion? Why do we wade on dry land?

  85. Tethys says

    AntelopesElands and gazelles.

    Sorry, the elands are in different paper I am reading on Oldowan tools.

    I doubt they hunted them, but seasonal grass fires would have made for rich scavaging of precooked meat.

  86. David Marjanović says

    Basic evolutionary biology

    I’m merely reminding people that even very low levels of selection (as little as ha;f an hour a week) would be sufficient.

    But where do you get this number from??? I’ve pointed out before that you can’t wade, swim & dive for food for half an hour a week, you have to do it every day. If it’s not food in general but something more specific that provides this selective advantage, what is it?

    You have never replied.

    Presumed waterside adaptations other than bipedality

    ii, Brains use a lot of energy therefore dietary change must have occcurred. More meat and cooking clearly were involved but high DHA and Iodine specifically are also highly correlated with brain growth. It makes more sense that developmental mutations that made big brained inafnts occurred in population where there was an abundance of DHA/Iodine than places where they were scarce.

    But we’ve been through this: iodine is by no means exclusive to the sea, and DHA is by no means exclusive to the water.

    iii, The evolution of speech makes more sense if fine breath control was already present as a pre-adaptation – perhaps for swimming – than if it did not exist.

    I can’t see why gradual evolution of breath control couldn’t have happened as a feedback on a gradual evolution of language.

    iv, [...] Sweat cooling also only makes sense if one lives close to reliable sources of drinking water. Waterside habitats, again.

    Oh yes, one does have to live within walking distance of reliable sources of drinking water. However, if one lives so close that one can just take a dip instead, sweating is useless – indeed, it causes loss of salt (in the case of a freshwater habitat) or of water (in the case of a saltwater habitat). We’ve been through this, too.

    Sweat cooling alone, or parasite detetction or good old sexual selection might be sufficient to explain our odd body hair pattern, but if swimming helps, why evade it like the plague?

    Because it’s unnecessary?

    Parsimony: nothing more than necessary is to be assumed.

    It might well be the case that women carried fat babies (and pendulous breasts) across open savannah grasslands, but if they are easier to explain in coastal habitats, isn’t this better?

    1) Yeah, if. But are our babies consistently fatter than those of other apes? And what good are breasts in a coastal habitat? (I know that Morgan has tried to come up with a few possibilities, but none of them remotely works.)
    2) Coastal, you say. So why is the hominin fossil record limited to freshwater and fissure fillings till less than 200,000 years ago?

    Arguing for menstrual synchrony seems to make more sense on the coasts where tidal changes would be dramatic and effect the whole populations.

    Menstruation is not linked to the moon today. While the twice-daily tidal changes are dramatic and affect everything on the coast, the (about) monthly changes in the precise amplitude of the tides are rather hard to notice; why would they influence human reproduction?

    Behavioural evidence strongly indicates that humans swim and dive better than chimps and although this is often explained by all manner of handy pre-adaptations (we’re clever, we’re fat, we’re bipedal, we have brachiating arms etc), it seems more parsimonious to consider that it may simply be due to natural selection from doing that behaviour. Especially as we do have a curious cluster of traits that seeem to be consistent with the idea and none that contradict it.

    Oh, there are plenty that contradict it: our feet aren’t adapted to wading, we can’t close our nostrils, we inhale when we trip… we’ve been through all this. When PZ closed the thread and opened this new one, he didn’t mean to wipe everyone’s memory.

    If some marker of oxygen binding in haemoglobin or some other physiological aspect of shallow diving, that was present in manatees and dugongs, were identified, one would predict that there should be a clear difference between humans and chimps on this, with humans nearer the manatee/dugong range than chimps.

    Why specifically sea cows, when those have extremely low metabolic rates for mammalian standards and therefore need way less oxygen than any other mammal of the same size (hibernating bears perhaps excepted)? Odd choice.

  87. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Tethys, I’ve been getting strong feelings of déjà vu! Isn’t it wonderful when people arrive at the same conclusions, based on the same evidence?

    That’s another thing that has been confusing me about Algis and co. – they contradict one another and themselves and the original ‘soggy apes’ of the title, yet still think that they should disagree with the scientific consensus and all the available evidence.

  88. Tethys says

    Oh good grief, I need more caffiene and better previewing.

    Antelopes elands, and gazelles.

  89. David Marjanović says

    Meta

    PZ gets that any attempt at serious conversation with Algis eventually spirals out of control into multiquotes that go fractal. DavidM, take note.

    This is a blog, not a forum with a “reply” button that automatically quotes the entire post you reply to and correctly renders all quotes within quotes within quotes. Here we have to do all of that manually.

    And what do you mean by “485”?

    I completely missed that the first thread had exploded like that and now I’m a little scared to go back and start on it. Nearly 1500 comments? Of nonsense?

    Well, nonsense and the replies to it, some quite informative. I’ve reviewed several papers in that thread.

    So I guess my question is this: why even engage with the substantive aspects of it? It seems like doing so is granting the proponents of the the Snorkeling Ancestor argument more consideration than he or she really deserves. Adequate reasons to reject it can be stated in purely formal terms – why get bogged down arguing specifics with lunatics? These people are masters of weaving “just so” stories. I think getting down and actually trying to unravel those stories is a mistake, as they can spin faster than we can pull, to carry the analogy further than it really needed to be carried.

    This is exactly why only one professional paleanthropologist has ever written a paper about it (against it, of course). Algis, on the one hand, doesn’t get this and concludes the pros must all be afraid of soggy apes; on the other hand, he believed that replying to anything he said meant singling it out for special attention. ~:-|

    Honesty

    Bravo, PZ! I welcome this move and agree wholeheartedly to the rules.

    So far, though, there have only been three posts out of 28 that seem to have been written in the new spirit here so I will comment only on those.

    Ah, what a convenient excuse to ignore all of comment 6, especially its link to comment 559 of the previous thread – you know, the one with the papers YOU STILL HAVEN’T READ!

    (And then you replied to comment 30 anyway, even though it is pure mockery. You’re not even consistent in your agreement with the new rules.)

    Again: if you don’t have access, find my e-mail address in Google Scholar, and I’ll send them to you.

  90. ChasCPeterson says

    A large percentage of the fat on an infant is in fact, the brain itself. The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat.

    *sigh*

  91. anchor says

    I wonder: are severed human heads more or less buoyant than the rest of the body? Either way, the selection pressure implications given a putative aquatic lifestyle in our ancestors are no doubt appalling…especially if bigger brains do not float better.

  92. Amphiox says

    Speaking of honesty, this:

    If some marker of oxygen binding in haemoglobin or some other physiological aspect of shallow diving, that was present in manatees and dugongs, were identified, one would predict that there should be a clear difference between humans and chimps on this, with humans nearer the manatee/dugong range than chimps.

    Is classic creationist-style moving the goalposts.

    See, a marker WAS found, myoglobin, that applied to ALL KNOWN AQUATIC AND SEMI-AQUATIC mammals except manatees and dugongs. Aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals Algis was HAPPY to cite for comparative convergence arguments prior to being informed of that marker.

    And that marker showed no sign of aquatic ancestry in humans. None at all.

    So what does Algis do in response to that? Why, he moves the goalposts. NOW it is just manatees and dugongs, the one and only exception that doesn’t immediately falsify his claims.

    And in fact, there IS a marker of shallow diving adaption in the manatees and dugongs. It is low metabolic rate to decrease oxygen demand. And guess what? Humans don’t share it, there is no difference between humans and chimps on this, and humans are not closer to manatees and dugongs than chimpanzees are.

  93. Tethys says

    I’m sorry Chas, but the 60% fat is me quoting the first sentence in the linked paper, and your previous comment was missed because I didn’t refresh before posting. I realize that several substances are being lumped into the category of fat, and appreciate it very much when you and others explain in detail the intracacies of the science.

  94. Amphiox says

    Why specifically sea cows, when those have extremely low metabolic rates for mammalian standards and therefore need way less oxygen than any other mammal of the same size (hibernating bears perhaps excepted)?

    In the myoglobin study polar, brown and black bears all scored higher than both humans and chimpanzees. Which is rather telling, since brown bears certain do exploit waterside resources quite a bit.

  95. Amphiox says

    Oh yes, one does have to live within walking distance of reliable sources of drinking water. However, if one lives so close that one can just take a dip instead, sweating is useless – indeed, it causes loss of salt (in the case of a freshwater habitat) or of water (in the case of a saltwater habitat). We’ve been through this, too.

    I wonder if this is why, AFAIK, sweat cooling as an adaption is almost unique to humans. It is only likely to be selected for in a very unique set of circumstances. Aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures don’t need it and it is detrimental to them in loss of water and salt. For animals living mostly in arid areas it is too costly in water usage. Only in a creature that lived close to water, but did NOT venture into the water very much, and which made its living traveling long distances AWAY from the water into dry and arid habitats regularly (ie, daily) but still returned regularly (ie, nightly) to the water to refuel its water supplies, could sweat cooling become advantageous enough to evolve.

  96. Amphiox says

    Sweat cooling is also significantly impaired if the surrounding air is too humid, such that the sweat has difficulty evaporating. And where in subtropical Africa is the air likely to be very humid? By the waterside.

  97. Tethys says

    since brown bears certain do exploit waterside resources quite a bit

    Black bears are also excellent swimmers and are known to swim to and between islands in frigid Lake Superior.

  98. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    The only animals I have observed to sweat like humans are horses (typing that, I remembered the line “Horses sweat, men perspire, women simply glow.”) Which other animals sweat? Only mammals, I suppose?

  99. David Marjanović says

    Yup, only mammals.

    I wonder if this is why, AFAIK, sweat cooling as an adaption is almost unique to humans. It is only likely to be selected for in a very unique set of circumstances.

    Good point.

  100. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Tigger, the beefalo is a crossbreed between domestic cows and the American bison. Apparently the bison sweat, while cows don’t. The beefalo gets the sweat glands, and gets along better than cows.

  101. ChasCPeterson says

    Sweat glands per se are among the diagnostic shared derived traits of mammals. Using them to cool the entire body surface is what’s unusual for humans. Jim Moore reminded me of another example yesterday: patas monkeys. Patas monkeys, which live in much more open habitats than their rhesusian relatives and are built for running speed. (though I’m not sure they sweat over the entire body surface; they nay use localized heat-loss windows on the chest and limbs.)

  102. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Interesting. Comparison of sweat glands between Patas and Rhesus monkeys from various parts of their bodies (chest, palm, back, and lateral calf).

  103. says

    As long as we are discussing weird origin stories,I like Jeffrey Goodman’s theory that humanity first evolved in Southern California, moved north up through Canada and into Alaska, then crossed a land bridge to Asia from whence they spread to Europe and Africa. Completely bonkers of course, but much more fun than the soggy ape story. Wikipedia on Goodman. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Goodman . I admire the sheer chutzpah of the hypothesis. This is what crackpottery should look like – mostly harmless, with high entertainment value

  104. says

    I was posting from memory, but then read the Wikipedia entry. Not so harmless after all. Apparently he destroyed a Native American archaeological site as part of his effort to prove his theory. I wonder what it takes for crackpottery to be truly harmless.

  105. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I admit to the major offering to Tpyos, spelling “aquatic” as “aqueous”. Sometimes the picture in my head doesn’t make it through my fingers to the typed output.

    I agree with Amphiox #107 on sweating.

  106. anthrosciguy says

    The function of pinniped blubber in thermoregulation is well demonstrated and I’m unaware of any “tests” that don’t “square with” that. Can you be specific?

    Sorry, you’re right; I don’t have all the refs I’d like there. Pond was referring to “Increased thermal body insulation: relationship to the development of obesity” Jequier et al. J Appl Physiol. 1974 Jun;36(6):674-8. What I do know of it showed that they tested controls, moderately overweight, and markedly obese women and found “The large thermal insulation observed in subjects with a trend toward obesity may result mainly from an increased vasoconstriction of subcutaneous vessels with a decreased transfer of heat by blood flow.” I was going on what Pond had said, however, so if you read the Jequier paper you may find I’m wrong. Pond has pointed out that fat near the skin is used up first, that even in fatty animals such as seals some layers of fat are extremely thin, and of course that the fat in humans (and some other primates at least, such as Japanese macaques) is rather different in percentage and deposition, and that all these factors suggest that fat as insulation is a secondary aspect at most.

  107. anthrosciguy says

    Further on patas monkeys and sweating (and an important to the AAT note from me below), here’s an abstract that outlines some interesting info (bolding added by me):

    The histochemistry and histology of the eccrine sweat gland in the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) are described. The histochemical distribution and localization of enzymes and substrates are very similar to those found in the human; innervation is cholinergic. Active eccrine glands on the general body surface average 136 glands/cm2. Above the thermal neutral zone (TNZ), sweating is the major avenue for heat loss and the role of panting in dissipating heat is relatively insignificant. The intrahypothalamic administration of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) suppresses sweating and leads to an increase in core temperature. A linear relation is found between local sweat rates on the general body surface and clamped hypothalamic temperature. Studies also provide direct support for the concept that brain temperature and skin temperature interact additively in the control of sweating in higher primates. The functional characteristics of eccrine sweating in the patas monkey (Erythocebus) are qualitatively similar to those in the rhesus monkey. The patas monkey maintains a relatively constant rectal temperature (37.6–38.4°C) when equilibrated to a wide range of ambient temperaures of 15–40°C. Eccrine sweating is the main effector system for heat dissipation above the TNZ. We emphasize here that evaporative heat loss that is due to sweating is related to both mean skin and mean body temperature and at 40°C is 40% higher than that recorded from the rhesus monkey. These results indicate that the patas monkey, because of its high sweating capacity and other similarities with the human eccrine system, is a most appropriate animal model for comparative studies of eccrine sweat gland function in primates in general.

    That’s “Primate models to study eccrine sweating” by Reynaldo S. Elizondo, American Journal of Primatology Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 265–276, 1988.

    Now that’s one of the papers that was pointed out to Elaine Morgan in the sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup in the mid 90s to counter her then contention that effective eccrine sweating was not seen in other primates (she also claimed, wrongly, that eccrine sweating found in some seals; Morgan is where Marc Verhaegen picked up the false seal sweat claim I mentioned in the previous comment thread). Patas monkeys also have locomotor adaptations for greater ranging in savanna conditions; they are fast but that part of their locomotion is a side effect of their adaptation for striding (I’d have to look through the TRF posts to find the refs eversbane, a poster there, provided when he pointed this out a couple months back; let me know if you’d like them, as they’re really a side note). The interesting thing here is that Morgan and those who follow her, like Verhaegen and Algis, constructed their argument as: eccrine sweating isn’t what you’d expect in a savanna mammal.

    But it turns out (and in fact has been known for quite some time) that it is exactly what you’d expect in a savanna-adapted primate. African apes too do their share of eccrine sweating, although they don’t have as many eccrine glands as do humans or patas monkeys and so it’s less effective in their case.

  108. microraptor says

    and that all these factors suggest that fat as insulation is a secondary aspect at most.

    That’s something of a duh statement as the production of fatty tissues evolved in animals long before endothermic body regulation did so by its very nature use as thermal insulation has to be a secondary aspect. But a species evolving so that an organ or tissue that was originally used for one function becomes used for a second, entirely unrelated function is hardly a new concept in biology.

  109. Amphiox says

    I admit to the major offering to Tpyos, spelling “aquatic” as “aqueous”. Sometimes the picture in my head doesn’t make it through my fingers to the typed output.

    But, but…. If it was just a typo, it kind of ruins the joke….!

  110. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But, but…. If it was just a typo, it kind of ruins the joke….!

    MAJOR TYPO. Joke away though. It should be good for a couple of more days for the horde. I’ll just have some more grog and a laugh at myself. It was a doozie.

  111. algiskuliukas says

    Re 75 PZ Myers

    Please. Do continue.

    Blimey. Give me a chance. My reply to “Tigger” was made late last night. Then I went to bed.

    I see this morning that 60 more posts have been added since. I suspect all of them are as sneering and critical as yours.

    Anyway… I am going to post some key points of my own (i.e. not a reply) for you all to tear your self-righteous hair out to.

    I’ll read the other posts before doing so. Mustn’t be accused of missing anything, right?

    Algis Kuliukas

  112. David Marjanović says

    I see this morning that 60 more posts have been added since. I suspect all of them are as sneering and critical as yours.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

  113. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I see this morning that 60 more posts have been added since. I suspect all of them are as sneering and critical as yours.

    They can all be refuted with a couple of pieces of third party evidence showing you are not wrong…Funny, no citations you in post….Welcome to science, where what you evidence is more important than your OPINION.

    [Did you see the very first rule in the article? --pzm]

  114. Amphiox says

    I see this morning that 60 more posts have been added since. I suspect all of them are as sneering and critical as yours.

    So, what was that about sniping again?

  115. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Speaking of Patas: First monkey on two legs – BBC wildlife has a good view of savannah, and some good shots of monkeys standing to feed on trees. There’s even a second or two of a monkey traveling on two legs to see over savanna grass.

    Algis, you may recall, sneered at my list that included just that scenario for bipedal locomotion. He said MOST of my serious instances were postural, failing, as is his wont, to realize that he’d just admitted that not ALL were wrong. He’d just refuted his claim that wading was the only possible bipedal, but he snarked off like the coward he accuses others of being. He did not address the serious suggestions on my list.

    He did the same thing when I linked to the video of wading baboons. I pointed out several ways that it shot his waterside waders out of the water, and mention that he’d specifically said only great apes waded upright. His reply was to accuse me of calling him a liar, including everybody else in my twistedness in attacking him, babbling paranoia, and that was all he said—nothing about my critiques of his scenarios.

    I then linked and copied his original statement. He has not responded to that statement, nor has he in any way addressed any of the issues I raised based on the evidence to be seen in the video.

    Algis likes the term “intellectual coward”.

    I like the term “flaming shitweasel”.

  116. Lofty says

    Blimey, what “A SHAMBLES!” Algis’s Somewhat Hairless Apelike Mothers/Babies Littoral Exercise Schema.
    Sorry PZ, I’m bad that way.

  117. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Listen, strange hominids lyin’ in ponds losing hair is no basis for a system of evolution! Evolution derives from the change in the inherited characteristics, not from some farcicial aquatic coincidence!

  118. ChasCPeterson says

    I am going to post some key points of my own (i.e. not a reply)

    #32 in this thread pretty much covers what you’ve got to say.

  119. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    This might be a circular argument but it is no more circular than most ideas about human evolution that are taught in universities today.

    In other words, I know you are but what am I.

  120. says

    For this thread, EVERYONE stop with the snarky one-liners. I’m going to be strict and kill the comments once they hit 500, so you’re wasting space. Contribute serious evidence pro or con, or shut up.

    I take it from his comment #124 that Kuliukas is not going to advance his floating fat baby argument as his primary evidence for the AAT. I recommend that he come up with something specifically addressable fast, rather than letting the thread fritter away in flailing arguments.

    Comment #32 is not adequate. It is a gish gallop. I’d like to see him FOCUS on his strongest line of evidence and demonstrate that it actually shows what he thinks it shows, instead of yet another hodgepodge of one-line assertions.

  121. algiskuliukas says

    Re 57 PZ Myers

    Pick one clear line of evidence that supports your hypothesis. Explain it and how it supports your claim and how it opposes alternative hypotheses.

    Ok, PZ. Something “meaty”…

    Humans swim and dive better than chimps.
    Everyone – that is, everyone who is not in some bizarre denial about these ideas, knows this. It is backed up by an overwhelming mass of behavioural evidence. Billions of humans have been observed swimming, but just a few chimps. Thousands of people have swam across stretches of water greater than 5km but the river Congo has separated the three African species of great apes for millions of years. Thousands of people have dived to depths greater than 5 m. but no chimp has ever been observed doing this.

    This is the single, simplest, most pertinent fact imaginable in this debate. It is what Alister Hardy described as the “first and foremost” point to make (Hardy 1960:643), which presumably why the “definitive web resource” on the idea fails to even mention it, let alone report anything like the major point behind it fairly.

    Before aquaskeptics jump in with the usual counter argument here – “ah but we can do lots of things better than chimps … climb mountains, ride bicycles, play trombones etc.” – please try to remember that we’re talking about a simple mode of locomotion here (the oldest on a very blue planet) not some fancy aspect of modern human culture. This proposed locomotion, note, requires no technology whatsoever, it can easily be done naked as the day you were born and can be learned quicker than it takes most humans to learn how to walk, the mode of locomotion they will use almost 100% of the time for the rest of their lives.

    Of course is it is possible that some chimpanzee might be “trained” to swim faster than Mark Spitz, further than Martin Strel or dive deeper than Christina Saenz de Santamaria but I think most rational people will be skeptical about that and see it as the most special form of special pleading. Forget elite athletes… I doubt any chimp could be trained to swim and dive as well as I do, and I’m a crap swimmer, like most humans are, I suspect.

    We might be well be poor swimmers (compared to animals that are aquatic in any real sense) but I put it to you that far more humans go swimming today than climb trees and when they do, they spend more time there in the water than they do peering down from branches. Yet, although no-one would deny we have a more arboreal past, the idea that humans ancestors might have actually gone swimming a little more than chimps is treated with derision. Space apes, it would appear, are considered just as likely.

    So if we do swim better than chimps… why!?
    So, assuming that my claim that humans swim better than chimps hasn’t already caused people to smash their keyboard with anger or shake their heads with disgust, lets move on to look at the competing hypotheses that might explain why this is so.

    The well rehearsed aquaskeptic argument here is that the null hypothesis has to be that this phenomenon is an exaptation for something else. If we do swim better than chimps, the most parsimonious explanation has to be something (anything) other than it was due to natural selection. (n. s.)

    We swim better because we were already bipedal.
    We swim better because we have an exaptation of a brachiating arm.
    We swim better because we are fatter.
    We swim better because we became clever.

    These are just the most common ones I’ve seen cited, but I’m sure there are some mainstream people who are in denial about waterside ideas who could think up some others, in the same way that around 30 (some quite bizarre) ways of imagining how human bipedalism originated have been published.

    So, which one? It doesn’t seem to matter. The important thing is that actual natural selection for swimming must be the last thing to be considered.

    Because we’re so bipedal
    Some, like Amphiox, seem to think it’s all about time. The more time our ancestors are likely to have done something, the more plausible it is. And everyone agrees that we were spending a lot of time walking, so maybe that’s where the answer lies: We swim better because we were already bipedal. I’ve never quite understood how this argument is meant to go. Something to do with the way you breathe, when walking, apparently. Never mind that all other mammals that are good at swimming are either quadrupedal or have lost their limbs altogether. Clutching at straws, or what?

    Because we’re ex brachiators
    What about the brachiating arm one? That sounds good at first sight. Maybe this is the reason we swim better than chimps: we inherited a brachiating arm from the LCA of all apes. But hold on, didn’t the chimps inherit that same brachiating arm too? Oops.

    Because we’re so fat
    How about: We’re fatter than chimps, that’s we swim better than they do! Again, this sounds reasonable at first and I use the same point myself when it comes to infants. But then, of course, a very different set of counter-arguments to the idea are wheeled out. I’m always reminded that human infants can drown in a few cm of water (where floating is not possible) and it’s denied by some (like “Tigger” here) that humans infants do float. (One only has to do a Google Image search to disprove that one – most of which are face up). I notice he who is beyond criticism also turned up to post the Pond/Kuzawa stuff yet again, pretending that these arguments haven’t been addressed before. (e.g. Pond all but ignores infant adiposity – not much sexual selection there, and Kuzawa’s “nutritional stress” arguments merely show correlation, not causation.)
    But anyway, back to the issue at hand here: The counter argument to this “exaptation” idea is simply that, of course, even very lean people with athletic builds can swim and dive very well too – far better than any chimp, even though they are comparatively lean.

    Because we’re so smart
    So, out of my parody of four “why we swim better than chimps” explanations, that leaves just one, the best in my view – we swim better because we’re clever. Again, no-one would deny that there is a correlation. If you have not been brought up swimming every day from days before you can remember and if you have built up an understandable fear of water as a child, it could take quite a bit of courage and mental strength to overcome one’s natural instinct to keep out of the water. Learning to swim well does require quite a bit of regular practice for most people and it is probably not an innate skill (although some “AAH” proponents might point you to old (1932) footage of an 11 day old infant adopting a “salamader-like” stroke). It seems logical, and very human, that we would have used our mental faculties to overcome this problem, like we have overcome so many others.
    But all of this ignores the issue of cause and effect, or to be more precise, is assumes that “being clever” came first and swimming followed. It seems just as likely to me that the two co-evolved. I was speaking with a psychologist (who’s name I am embarrassed to admit I did not take) at the London conference a few weeks ago who was interested in the idea that the seemingly unique human capacity to override our natural instinct may have arisen out of swimming and diving behaviour. Again, of course, this is speculation but one has to admit it’s a pretty interesting idea, worthy of serious consideration.

    Why not simply… because of natural selection?
    The “time spent” point made by Amphiox can easily be countered with the simple question: How long does it take to drown? My point of scaling back the degree of selection is not “back peddling”, thanks. It’s really just making the point that there is no need for the usual mermaid sneering here. And, to answer David’s objection, I am not suggesting they got all their food from coastal shallows but just that it would have helped them survive if they could get some. Even if our ancestors went swimming for just half an hour a week (an average, figure, note) and chimp ancestors did none, there would be a differential in selection. Far more hominins would have drowned than chimp ancestors, right? This is evolution 101. If there is a differential in selection – even a very slight one – then the given variation in populations would be acted upon, and any traits that made drowning slightly less likely, or made swimming ability slightly better, would be selected for.
    As Kevinalexander asked “If any species spends any amount of time in some environment, how does it avoid further adapting to that environment?” This, note, is just setting a lower bound – rather than the usual response which is to exaggerate to discredit. The amount of swimming could have been higher – hey, maybe even as much as “a few hours at a stretch” as Hardy suggested himself in 1960.

    It’s odd that some evolutionary biologists are so reluctant to use natural selection as a possible explanation here. Humans are more efficient at terrestrial walking than chimps too, but I do not remember any hesitancy in invoking n.s. as the reason. It was through selection to make long distance foraging more cost effective. Please can someone point me to that paper where the exaptation null was considered, and rejected first? It wasn’t, was it? The same goes with the explanation as to why chimps are better climbers than we are. No-one disputes that this was the ancestral condition that early humans evolved from and that since then, through natural selection, this ability has diminished.

    It’s not just human and chimps in the three substrates we could move in, either. I challenge anyone to choose two animal species and one of the five or so media on planet earth through which they could both move, but where there is as significant a difference in ability between the two to move in that medium where n.s. is not the standard explanation. Point me to one where it can be demonstrated that science has taken the ultra-cautious “exaptation null” approach and n.s. has been placed at the bottom of the list of things to consider, like it has here with humans, chimps and swimming. There are billions of permutations to choose from but I will not hold my breath. Snakes and donkeys are the best that have been proposed so far, but after the most perfunctory examination they fail the above criteria anyway.

    Slight selection for swimming is just the mainstream view, anyway!
    This mild waterside hypothesis has been criticised for being difficult to distinguish from the mainstream “super generalist” theory. I should be embarrassed, apparently, because as I didn’t realise that my view is really just the mainstream view, I’ve been wasting everyone’s time.

    That’s odd. If my view is so similar to the mainstream view why have I encountered so much hostility in places like this? Why would PZ call another yet mainstream guy an idiot, kook, loon and a wanker? Why has there been such a rancorous debate on something as clear cut and evidence-based as the fact humans swim and dive better than chimps? I notice the guy who calls himself a university is still in abject denial about that (“The bottom line, humans did NOT swim and dive more than chimps”) At least, it does seem that there are a few sensible, rational people reading and posting to this blog today. I applaud Amy Cocks’ call for more compromise and less polarisation on this subject.

    So to the Q & A…
    Q: How can these ideas be distinguished from the mainstream ones?
    A: It’s in the definition.

    Waterside hypotheses of human evolution assert that selection from wading, swimming and diving and procurement of food from aquatic habitats have significantly affected the evolution of the lineage leading to Homo sapiens as distinct from that leading to Pan.

    I’m always being accused of being vague and shifting goalposts etc. but if can someone point me to a mainstream definition of the whatever-the-hell-it-is-today theory of human evolution that is as simple and precise as that as that maybe a comparison could be made. Don’t tell me: the fact that mainstream science has come up with dozens of ill-defined, vague just so-stories without considering the exaptation null, falsifiability and circularity in 150 years, it doesn’t mean anyone “on the fringe” can expect to get away with it. It’s “I’m the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal” science.

    The most astonishing thing about all this is the disparity between the huge, overbearing confidence that aquaskeptics seem to have that these ideas must be wrong and the almost absolute absence of any science that has been done by anyone open minded enough to test these ideas. Who needs rational scientific investigation when you have a group think sneer-fest?

    The bottom line: Humans do swim and dive better than chimps and the simplest, most plausible explanation is simply that it is the result of some natural selection. Until more science is done to test (and reject) these ideas, why has such a simple, plausible, evidence-based and potentially helpful idea been sneered at for so long by so many?

    Algis Kuliukas

  122. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The most astonishing thing about all this is the disparity between the huge, overbearing confidence that aquaskeptics seem to have that these ideas must be wrong and the almost absolute absence of any science that has been done by anyone open minded enough to test these ideas. Who needs rational scientific investigation when you have a group think sneer-fest?

    The rational thinking should go like this. At what point in time did humans obtain the ability to tell the next generation that a body of water was safe to swim in, less you became a meal for a crocodile, or roadkill for an enraged hippopotamus? This is the problem the AAI folks have. They think bodies of water are safe havens, when they are bodies of potential death that would be avoided in certain respects, like prolonged wading, diving and swimming, by any apes/hominids in the area. Please address this point.

  123. anthrosciguy says

    If we are adapted to swimming, via water use involving swimming and diving for food some period of time (which usually is expressed as some millions of years, but which Algis has suggested is merely some hundreds of thousands of years with discreetly distributed activities for discreet periods of water use), why are we unable to swim instinctively? This is pretty unusual, not just among mammals in general but among primates. Why?

  124. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Another thing, mainly for the beach version, though I think this may be true of river-living bull sharks too:

    Apparently, most kinds of sharks, when they bite humans, figure out that humans aren’t their usual prey and desist.

    How can they regard humans as “not their usual prey” if we were plentiful in shallow seas?

  125. anthrosciguy says

    and the almost absolute absence of any science that has been done by anyone open minded enough to test these ideas.

    And why haven’t the proponents of the idea done this research, or, say, hasn’t one of them funded it from the proceeds of an international best-seller and a prize that was accompanied with some $80,000? And the fact that one of the major proponents of the idea has spent, very conservatively estimated, over 2 years worth of 40-hour work weeks arguing online with people he says are “a rabble of nobodies” instead of doing research on the idea, research he says is desperately needed for what he claims is one of the most important ideas in the history of the study of human evolution, suggests pretty strongly that even he doesn’t think the idea is worth anyone’s serious working research time.

    I think that the fact that the fact that there has been an “almost absolute absence of any science that has been done” directly on this idea by those who support it is telling, but what it’s telling us is not what Algis apparently thinks. The fact that the idea has proved so barren after more than a half century very strongly suggests that there is no there there.

    Now, there actually has been an awful lot of work that bears on the AAT in its various forms, and virtually none of it has been done by the idea’s proponents. The incredibly huge amount of work done in the field of paleoanthropology since 1960 tells us that the AAT is not needed as an explanation, that it does not fit the facts (even facts known at the time various AAT claims were made), and that the AAT is both unparsimonious and moribund.

  126. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    There is no other scenario on the planet which would guarrantee bipedal locomotion in otherwise quadrupedal great apes then waist/chest deep water.

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that bipedal locomotion 1) is as efficient as quadrupedal locomotion but 2) preserves the approximate…gait? Rhythm? Of brachiating.

  127. Amphiox says

    Algis just spent a good portion of the last thread trying to insist that his version of the AAH did not require anything significant in terms of the head being underwater, and now he’s walking it all back and trying to assert swimming and diving into his arguments again? Does Algis actually have anything NEW or relevant, or does he really think that just because PZ started a new thread he gets carte blanche to simply repeat all his old arguments again, ignoring how they’d all been refuted in the other thread, like the creationist troll txpiper used to love to do?

    Well, if diving is back in play, then the hair on the head counterargument is back in play.

    And sweat cooling does not fit with a swimming/diving ancestral at all.

    And the myoglobin study is back in play, since human ancestors did not have low metabolic rates like Sirenians, and a low metabolic rate is not consistent with a lineage needing to support a big (and evolving bigger) brain.

    And this lice study is back in play: http://link.springer.com/article/10.2478%2Fs11686-007-0006-3#page-1

    Humans, quite notably do not show the reduced diversity of lice genera compared to their presumptive non-diving relatives that this study shows is a common finding in diving clades.

    And, before Algis can even begin to use swimming and diving ability as argument he has to first provide evidence demonstrating that the difference in swimming and diving ability is still present once the effect of culture (ie the big human brain) is controlled for. I already told him earlier in the thread how he could do that using computer simulations. THEN he has to provide evidence showing WHAT TIME the improvement in the ability to swim first arose, and show that the time matches with the time period he is proposing for his waterside jaunt. THEN he has to correlate that improved ability with anatomic changes that can be identified and validated in the fossil record, like with the throwing study here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/06/26/how-humans-evolved-to-throw-a-fastball/#.UdD-0z5C6Jk

    Without a time period to reference for the change, and anatomic correlates that can be verified in the fossil record (or alternately, genetic variations with evidence of selective sweeps that can be dated) a claim based on modern behavioral differences is just another untestable just-so story. In other words, not science.

  128. Amphiox says

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_swimming

    the earliest recording of swimming dates back to Stone Age paintings from around 7,000 years ago.

    This is wholly consistent with swimming and diving being cultural innovations of modern humans, H. sapiens. This is the null hypothesis that Algis’ contention must differentiate itself from.

    So, how does Algis propose to do this? What experiment does he propose to show that improved swimming and diving ability in humans is older than H. sapiens and not just a cultural innovation? What kind of fossil or trace fossil evidence does he propose could be found that would demonstrate that swimming and diving proficiency predates modern H. sapiens?

  129. Amphiox says

    And also of crucial importance, when did this waterside interlude that Algis proposes end? When did the human lineage begin to move away from the water’s edge and towards the terrestrial lifestyle that the majority of modern humans ultimately adopted?

    If Algis’ contention is true, one should expect that the human ancestors who lived by the waterside before that move back to land should swim even better than modern humans. Where are the fossils that suggest that this could be the case?

    Or is Algis once more going to cop out and limit the amount of water exposure in his hypothesis to something equivalent to or less than what modern humans do today? Because if so, then his idea is indistinguishable from the established mainstream hypotheses which already include a small amount of water resource exploitation, and being indistinguishable is therefore untestable and not science.

  130. says

    The obvious explanation for human’s swimming ability would be that they are better able to learn and teach swimming compared to chimps, thanks to talking.

    If bipedalism is such an advantage for a semi-aquatic lifestyle, why are no other semi-aquatic animals bipedal save birds, who are all bipedal? Also, why is is it all other semi-aquatic animals are covered with hair? Only fully aquatic mammals like manatees and whales are mostly hairless, which you aren’t positing. Bears, otters, seals, muskrats and beavers all have way more hair than humans.

  131. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Algis:

    Humans do swim and dive better than chimps and the simplest, most plausible explanation is simply that it is the result of some natural selection.

    You still haven’t shown the first part. For instance, you probably can’t find a human who has swum across the Congo River, lately. We’ve hammered that, you just danced around it.

    In the second part, you very revealingly did NOT end with “natural selection due to swimming and diving. You mentioned exaptation, criticized it, then wrapped up with a screaming acknowledgement of it.Exaptation for the win.

    Your argument depends on humans doing something that has great risk of drowning—enough risk for selection to act. You completely ignored the video in which baboons were showing they hated water, you ignore the observed facts that chimps even hate rain, yet you postulate that proto-humans went ripping about in the water, even though they risked drowning, and somebody drowned enough to shape evolution..

    Clear me up here. Did enough chimps drown to make a difference, or was it humans drowning? What drove those poor swimmers into the water to die? Why do you like to drown people, anyway?

    Why can you not state your case without wrapping it up in your paranoid fantasies? Why do you hate everyone?

    How can you hate baby chimps?

    Speaking of baby chimps, have you ever noticed how they look like old George Burns? There’s a good case to be made for us being equivalent to infantile chimps, with big heads and all. All kinds of odd things would come with that, including, perhaps, an infant-like ability to swim.

    Except human babies can’t swim, as we have showed, often.They drown. Grownups drown, as you couldn’t help but admit in your discourse.

    You also forget that chimps have changed as much as us. We tell you that they dropped their brachiator’s arms to knuckle the ground, and you sneer. Your whole scenario is based on wrong assumptions and ignorance.

    Until more science is done to test (and reject) these ideas, why has such a simple, plausible, evidence-based and potentially helpful idea been sneered at for so long by so many?

    The science has not been done because there is nothing to do science on. Really, it’s nothing. It isn’t simple, there is no evidence, and it would not be helpful to point out that swimming has affected the human race as much as swimming has affected the human race.

    The “sneering”, that’s for you, Algis. It’s for you and your rudeness, your craziness and your endless, needless, relentless, pointless sneering. Your idea really has nothing, is nothing, so we give it nothing. You, you sneer. We object to your sneering, and you think we are sneering.

    The sneering, that’s all Algis.

  132. algiskuliukas says

    Re 136 Anthrosciguy

    Why? [are we not instinctive swimmers]

    Well, Jim, I would have thought you’d have understood that by now, after years of arguing with me.

    We are not instinctive swimmers, in my view, because we didn’t do all that much swimming, just a bit more than chimps.

    See, funny thing this. In between pitch-black and brilliant white, there are these strange things called “shades of grey”that are out of Jim’s field of vision.

    Algis Kuliukas

  133. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Never in the field of human evolution was so much sneered by so many to so little.

  134. anthrosciguy says

    But you say we did enough swimming and diving to have convergent evolution outfit us with the features (inaccurately described, of course) of cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenia.

    Just not enough to make us as instinctive a swimmer as a macaque.

  135. algiskuliukas says

    Re 138 anthro-slur-guy

    And why haven’t the proponents of the idea done this research…

    (Jim’s usual slurs deleted.)

    That old one again. Yes, Jim, it’s all about “us” and “them” to you isn’t it? Real anthropologists don’t deal with that yeuky wet stuff, that’s for those on the outside to do.

    When was that decided by the way? When did one of the three major substrates that most mammals move through become out of bounds for mainstream anthropologists and deemed the preserve of kooks, idiots, lunatics, loons and wankers? Y’know that substrate which it is well known to have changed in abundance – and hence affected climate dramatically – in the very place and at the very time that humans evolved?

    The incredibly huge amount of work done in the field of paleoanthropology since 1960 tells us that the AAT is not needed as an explanation, that it does not fit the facts (even facts known at the time various AAT claims were made), and that the AAT is both unparsimonious and moribund.

    Oh that science!

    Pull the other one, Jim. Please cite that paper from the paleoanthropological literature that even mentions, let alone discusses or attempts to reject, the wading hypothesis of bipedal origins.

    On the topic I have chosen to focus on, cite that paper that considered how well human swim compared to chimps and decided that explanations using some null exaptation just so story instead of some natural selection.

    Algis Kuliukas

  136. Lofty says

    We are not instinctive swimmers, in my view, because we didn’t do all that much swimming, just a bit more than chimps.

    What did “we” do the rest of the time? Walk the savannah? Which activity most shaped our evolution?

  137. A. Noyd says

    Humans also do ballet better than chimps. Our ancestors must have spent part of prehistory traipsing across stages in toe shoes and tutus.

  138. Amphiox says

    We are not instinctive swimmers, in my view, because we didn’t do all that much swimming, just a bit more than chimps.

    How is this any different or distinguishable from the standard hypothesis that human ancestors were eurytopic?

    Why in this view should the “bit” more of swimming we did than chimps be of greater selective significance than the vastly greater amount of open ground and sparse woodland terrestrial traveling we did than chimps, who were dense forest specialists, in accounting for the phenotypic differences between our two clades?

    Why do you insist on assigning special significance to a selective environment that by your own admission our ancestors only spent a tiny minority of their time in, while dismissing the potential selective significance of the environment in which by your own admission they spent the vast majority of their time? Why do think that is a parsimonious thing to posit?

  139. Owlmirror says

    Because we’re ex brachiators
    What about the brachiating arm one? That sounds good at first sight. Maybe this is the reason we swim better than chimps: we inherited a brachiating arm from the LCA of all apes. But hold on, didn’t the chimps inherit that same brachiating arm too? Oops.

    Oops, indeed.

    It’s always tricky keeping up with recently published science, but you really do need to check out the link that Amphiox has posted twice, now.

    The discovermagazine article links to a study published in Nature.

    Roach, NT, et al. Elastic energy storage in the shoulder and the evolution of high-speed throwing in Homo. Nature 498, 483–486 (27 June 2013)

    Abstract:

    Some primates, including chimpanzees, throw objects occasionally, but only humans regularly throw projectiles with high speed and accuracy. Darwin noted that the unique throwing abilities of humans, which were made possible when bipedalism emancipated the arms, enabled foragers to hunt effectively using projectiles. However, there has been little consideration of the evolution of throwing in the years since Darwin made his observations, in part because of a lack of evidence of when, how and why hominins evolved the ability to generate high-speed throws. Here we use experimental studies of humans throwing projectiles to show that our throwing capabilities largely result from several derived anatomical features that enable elastic energy storage and release at the shoulder. These features first appear together approximately 2 million years ago in the species Homo erectus. Taking into consideration archaeological evidence suggesting that hunting activity intensified around this time, we conclude that selection for throwing as a means to hunt probably had an important role in the evolution of the genus Homo.

    Even if you can’t access the main paper, you should have free access to the supplementary material, which is a 47 page PDF, chock-full of anatomical and mechanical detail.

    I think this provides strong support for an argument that the arm motions used by humans in swimming are exaptations from a shoulder and arm adapted for throwing.

  140. algiskuliukas says

    Re 140 Amphiox

    Algis just spent a good portion of the last thread trying to insist that his version of the AAH did not require anything significant in terms of the head being underwater, and now he’s walking it all back and trying to assert swimming and diving into his arguments again.

    The usual attempt at a misrepresentation. I do not think human ancestors were ever specialist divers, no. I do think they dived in coastal shallows for food ocassionally, yes.

    Which part of this do you not understand:
    I think human ancestors did more swimming and diving than chimps, but much less than manatees?

    …ignoring how they’d all been refuted in the other thread…

    Oh sure. They’ve all been denied before and no-one ever responded to them.

    hair on top of the head, sweat cooling, myoglobin, lice etc “back in play”

    Well yes and no. It’s not as black and white as you guys always seem to think.

    On the hair thing. Weren’t you just saying how it’s all about time spent? If humans spent more time surface swimming, looking for food, than diving to get it, that would answer that one, right?

    I don’t get the sweat cooling “objection”. It requires fresh very reliable water sources to replenish the water lost. Going for a dip would be better and easier but aren’t you guys always reminding me about those pesky crocs? Sweat cooling makes sense as a kind of “2nd option” when going for a dip isn’t on right now – but on the proviso that you’re going to be able to regain that water lost sometime soon. Later in my model, on the coasts, next to fresh water streams, going for a dip in the sea would be preferable, but what if they were climbing cliffs looking for birds eggs?

    On myoglobin, the fact that fully aquatic mammals such as manatees and dugongs (even with their special “slow metabolism” – whatever that is) did not experience myoglobin evolution suggests that this is not the only physiological response to diving possible. That outlier is a show stopper for that argument. You should simply admit it and move on.

    On lice, if the modern human disapora took us away from what I would consider their ancestral, coastal homeland between 200Ka and 80Ka ago – and have spent much of the last 20Ka domesticating various terrestrial animals – seriously, what would you expect?

    And, before Algis can even begin to use swimming and diving ability as argument he has to first … THEN he has to … and show … THEN he has to …

    A bit demanding, these people, aren’t they?

    Why’s that? How come other (aquaskeptic) people don’t have to do anything before they are allowed to speculate?

    It’s just an idea – a plausible, evidence-based one. One that could potentially be very helpful. In my view it could end up being the best idea on human evolution since Darwin, but, it’s still only an idea

    I’m the first to argue that more science needs to be done. No-one is saying “it’s proven” or anything remotely near to that.

    Your earlier post here was a good one, listing the pieces of evidence that would change your mind on the matter. I agree with almost all of it. If any of those tests controverted the idea, I’d agree to drop it. As far as I can tell half of them support the idea already though but I don’t see any reduction in your strange certainty that the idea must be wrong.

    Algis Kuliukas

  141. says

    Kuliukas: Do you know what the word “focus” means? Look it up. Then try to do it. Focus on one clear line of evidence that you think strongly supports your idea. Then I’ll yell at other people who try to bring up other claims, and we can all happily do one thing at a time.

  142. Amphiox says

    Re 138 anthro-slur-guy

    What was that about sniping again?

    Humans also do ballet better than chimps. Our ancestors must have spent part of prehistory traipsing across stages in toe shoes and tutus.

    We also wage war much better than chimps (which unlike with ballet, but like with bipedalism, chimps actually do it a little bit). Our ancestors must therefore have evolved in a post-apocalyptic Deathworld.

    The science has not been done because there is nothing to do science on.

    That really is the crux of it. These behavioral arguments are, after a point, untestable. You can compare the proficiencies of the modern species, but after that, then what? So you have an observation that humans swim better than chimps. It’s an observation. One with many potential explanations. You propose that it is due to a period in evolutionary time when human ancestors spent more time in the water than chimp ancestors. Ok, what is your evidence for that? You can’t say “because humans swim better than chimps”, because that’s your original observation you are trying to explain. So what next? What independent evidence can you show or do you predict that we could find that demonstrates this and distinguishes it from alternative explanations? THEN WHAT?

    It all has to begin with time. Propose the time during which these evolutionary changes occur. With that we can do lots of things. We can go look for fossils in strata of the appropriate age (and place). We can examine the genes and do molecular dating. We can assess hypothetical population sizes and selection coefficients to see if the proposed time period was long enough for the evolutionary changes to reasonably occur.

    Without bringing the time component into it, it is not testable, and there is no science to be done.

  143. algiskuliukas says

    Re 152 Owlmirror

    Throwing

    Damn! I knew there was a good one I’d missed.

    Yes, that’s right. We swim better than chimps because we throw better.

    Brilliant. Thanks.

    Algis Kuliukas

  144. Amphiox says

    On myoglobin, the fact that fully aquatic mammals such as manatees and dugongs (even with their special “slow metabolism” – whatever that is) did not experience myoglobin evolution suggests that this is not the only physiological response to diving possible. That outlier is a show stopper for that argument. You should simply admit it and move on.

    A single outlier is NEVER a showstopper for any argument. That you could even say such a thing indicates that you don’t even understand what an outlier IS.

    I will repeat it again. EVERY. SINGLE. OTHER. AQUATIC. AND. SEMI. AQUATIC. MAMMAL. EVEN. THE. STAR-NOSED. MOLE. FITS. THE. TREND. The authors of that paper tested every clade.

    Every clade. Multiple species in each. You have to examine the supplementary materials to see how thorough they were.

    Black bears, active omnivores like humans, known to swim and dive on occasion and harvest waterside resources, just as you posit human ancestors doing, had a Z-score of 1.97. Humans had a Z-score of 0.65. Chimps scored over 1.2.

    “Not the only physiological response”?

    Well, IN THE ENTIRETY OF THE MAMMALIAN CLADE, the study found two, TWO, responses. One in the Sirenians, and one IN. EVERY. OTHER. AQUATIC. AND. SEMI-AQUATIC. CLADE.

    And physiological response in the Sirenians is already demonstrated. They lowered their total metabolic rate to reduce their demand for oxygen, obviating any need to change their myoglobin. We ALREADY KNOW that this exception cannot apply to humans and human ancestors. So we ALREADY KNOW that in the physiology here humans CANNOT be clustering with the Sirenians.

    So you are basically suggesting a THIRD physiologic response, of which you have NO EVIDENCE OF, about which you are not even able to speculate as to a mechanism, for which you cannot propose any means of testing, and have not even given a name, which applies ONLY to humans and not to ANY other mammalian aquatic or semi-aquatic clade, not the sirenians or any other, just so your hypothesis can be preserved.

    What makes you think it is more parsimonious to posit such a thing than to simply accept that by far the most likely scenario is that humans and the rest of the primates cluster with all the other mammals except for the Sirenians, and there was no significant degree of swimming or diving adaption in our lineage?

  145. algiskuliukas says

    Re 154 PZ Myers

    Kuliukas: Do you know what the word “focus” means? Look it up. Then try to do it. Focus on one clear line of evidence that you think strongly supports your idea. Then I’ll yell at other people who try to bring up other claims, and we can all happily do one thing at a time.

    Myers: Yes, I do. I didn’t need to look it up.

    Myers: Do you know what the term “tedious nit picking hypocrite” means?

    When I do one liners, I’m criticised for that.

    When I write a “meaty” (as requested) “focused” (as requested) piece on what I consider the to be “the strongest line of evidence” (as requested) and “demonstrate that it actually shows what I thinks it shows” (as requested) and explain “how it opposes alternative hypotheses” (as requested)…

    …the rules change again!

    What a surpise.

    One line of evidence: Humans swim better than chimps.

    It’s the most pertinent line of evidence imaginable on this subject. That’s why the “definitive web resource” on it doesn’t mention it, I guess.

    I’ve wasted enough time here today.

    Algis Kuliukas

  146. Amphiox says

    Damn! I knew there was a good one I’d missed.

    Yes, that’s right. We swim better than chimps because we throw better.

    Brilliant. Thanks.

    What was that about contentless sniping again?

    But more to the point, why do think this conjecture so laughable? In logical form and structure it is identical to the argument you are making. In fact it is the exact reverse of the argument you are making. Your hypothesis is implicitly positing that the flexible shoulder evolved for swimming and was exapted for throwing projectiles.

    Furthermore, you, by your own acknowledgement, accept that swimming could have constituted only a tiny part of the total activities of our ancestors. Whereas throwing is widely established as being a VERY COMMON and survival critical activity engaged in by our ancestors, both in self defence and in food procurement.

    The only difference is that this one actually has time relevant fossil evidence backing it up.

    So why do you find the alternative that actually has time relevant evidence and detailed quantified biomechanical studies supporting it to be risible, while your alternative for which you have not done any detailed quantified biomechanical analysis whatsoever, and which has no time-relevant evidence supporting it to be credible?

  147. Amphiox says

    One line of evidence: Humans swim better than chimps.

    No it isn’t a “line” of evidence. It is a single observation. A point. To make a line you need at least one other piece of evidence. Otherwise you are simply orbiting in just-so-story circles around that one point.

    It’s the most pertinent line of evidence imaginable on this subject.

    No it is not. Because as a single point it can be anchored anywhere. You need at least one other piece of evidence to make it relevant. Evidence such as, for example, a time.

    See, if the evidence of time shows that humans’ superior swimming ability only appeared 10,000 years ago, or 100,000 years ago, or even 1 million years ago, then the observation of humans swimming better than chimps is not pertinent at all. Because those times are so far removed from the point of divergence from the chimpanzees that anything that first appeared at those times has no relevance to the question of what selection pressures made us different from chimpanzees.

    Show evidence that the superior swimming ability of humans first appeared 5-6 million years ago, and you could have a case. See, if you had that second piece of data, then, and only then, would you have a “line” of evidence.

  148. says

    One line of evidence: humans swim better than chimps.

    That’s it? Of two species that are both poor swimmers, one is less lousy at it than the other, so therefore, one had to have gone through an aquatic (“wading”) phase in it’s evolution? Really? That’s why we should believe this strange notion?

    OK, you said it. OK, go to it gang. Kuliukas will at some point try to explain how a simple behavioral difference can be linked to this grand scheme.

  149. Amphiox says

    There is actually another reason to favor throwing as an explanation for the primary selective force for the arm motions also used in swimming.

    And that reason is that such arm motions are critical for throwing, and you really cannot envision a primate becoming an accurate thrower in any other way, whereas those arm motions are NOT critical for swimming. There are many other ways in which a mammal can adapt for swimming.

    In fact, no other aquatic or semi-aquatic mammalian clade that evolved to swim did it by increasing shoulder mobility. Nearly all of them (actually all of them?) that actually developed a swim mechanism different from the mammalian default of the dog paddle did it by flexing their spines up and down.

    Having a big, long, flailing arm as part of your swim stroke actually hurts your water resistance, in comparison to evolving a reduced, sleek forearm to use like a flipper and obtaining propulsive power by flexing the spine. As a method of swimming it has all the hallmarks of a classic evolutionary kluge, which is also the hallmark of an exaption.

    It would only make sense to develop a swim stroke based on a flexible shoulder and a long arm if, before entering the water, you already had a flexible shoulder and a long arm and you needed to keep the flexible shoulder and the long arm for other reasons. ie such as brachiating or throwing.

  150. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    PZ, my #146 was a snarky one-liner.I got excited (then botched the line a little). I do apologize, non-snarkily. Sorry.

    ====

    Algis, you keep going on about how a little swimming could have made a major difference. Then you recite some formula about the reciprocal (that sounds like you misunderstood it) as proof that a little can affect a lot.

    Others have tried to tell you that the LOT of walking that we all, even you, agree on, would have made even more of a difference. I can see, even if you haven’t, that if walking formed us one way, and swimming another, AND we see swimming characteristics on a walker, yeah, that could work—-like if we had gills, still, we could all agree we used to swim along with all our walking. Once we agreed on characteristics and causes, of course.

    You haven’t shown we have swimming characteristics, by the way, to anybody’s satisfaction but your own. That’s part of the problem here.

    My problem is that if a small amount of swimming could have made all the differences between us and chimps, as you seem to say, sometimes, you are giving a small influence very big results. Huge.

    I have said above, and you have totally fricking ignored, that only if swimming were super dangerous would it have a large result. Only if people (or chimps) were drowning like flies would it have a large effect. Or starving, or brain-rotting, or getting eaten by crocodiles, or otherwise dying for a swim.

    It’s like those cartoons where cavemen go hunting mammoths, and are getting tossed around and killed. Nobody did that. Nobody went out as a group to trade a life for a week’s worth of steak—it’d be easier to just eat one guy. People took manageable risks, or they didn’t reproduce. Your swimmers didn’t go swimming if there was a good chance of dying, so swimming could not have been a life-or-death matter.

    The only way swimming could have had the influence you assume is if there were periodic, unpredictable floods, that only swimming could get them through (God, I should not tell you that). A few tsunamis, a few survivors, inbreeding, and punc-eq’s your uncle.

    Your scenario of weekend waterparking simply doesn’t work. It cannot have enough influence. You resolutely ignore that, so let’s move on.

    If a small influence can have large effects, you have to show very definitely that the effects are EXACTLY and exclusively as predicted, or you have to admit that ANY small influence can have great effects. Any small influence at all: chirality, mushrooms, micro-climates, geology, sounds, sunrises, toilet location, sexual preferences, anything at all. And you’d get feedback loops, and runaway effects, and it’d just be crazy.

    I’m an ex-electronics technician (so sneer at me), and I don’t remember all the theory, but it’s close enough to say that your signal would get swamped in the noise. You can’t just say that we swam, and say that it explains everything. You’d have to do a buttload of analysis to fish out swimming from sitting positions, indigenous fauna, parasites, penis color and everything else in the world. You’d have too much trouble—it’s not like on the TV, where you run it through an enhancer.

    Science, real science, the stuff you sneer at, has done the analysis, as best as can be done, after taking all I have said into account, and not found swimming. You are going to sneer, because the signal get lost in the noises in your head, and sneering is all you have ever done. You haven’t done science, and nobody is going to do science on your hypothesis, because there’s nothing there to do science on. There’s just random noise. It’s all Algis.

  151. Lofty says

    I have identified Algis’s research lab for determining the relative ratios of chimps and humans swimming. Humans outnumber chimps by, oh, a large factor, and plump women and children are conspicious by their ability to occasionally float and wade. Algis’s data collecting goes back to at least his early teens proving the historicity of his claim.
    Algis, is this a fair summary of your research? Would you like to identify the timeline where you think this behaviour definitely separated chimps from humans? To the nearest million years please.

  152. says

    I’m coming into this thread fresh, so apologies if I’m rehashing old ground from previous posts; and I don’t have any biology background to back me up (so I’m likely to make some egregious mistakes; let me know if I do) — but even I can see some obvious issues with Algis Kuliukas’ argument.

    (My first draft of this post was also enormous. This is edited down!)

    [swimming] can easily be done naked as the day you were born and can be learned quicker than it takes most humans to learn how to walk

    A big factor in that, I think, is that swimming does not involve working against gravity. Even crawling is much, much harder than a basic “swimming” motion when in water. Human infants require months of muscular development before they can hold their heads up, let alone any other activity. In water, all parts of the body are supported and even the weak muscles of an infant can achieve movement.

    I put it to you that far more humans go swimming today than climb trees and when they do, they spend more time there in the water than they do peering down from branches.

    Again, swimming does not involve fighting gravity, whereas tree climbing very much does. Climbing requires lifting your entire body weight. In fact we’ve lost enough of our arboreal cousins’ adaptations that if there isn’t a branch in easy reach, most of us can’t even get started climbing a tree. Kids like climbing trees, but the older (and heavier) we get, the harder it becomes for us.

    For swimming, there is more physical effort involved in getting out of the water than for climbing in.

    Swimming is the easiest way to experience a novel environment, and that’s why most people swim — for the experience of it.

    I’m always reminded that human infants can drown in a few cm of water (where floating is not possible) and it’s denied by some (like “Tigger” here) that humans infants do float. (One only has to do a Google Image search to disprove that one – most of which are face up)

    I’d say infants can float, but only just. The last part above in bold is important, because their noses & mouths are only out of the water when floating on their backs. Babies can potentially be trained to roll onto their backs from as young as 6 months, but they don’t do it instinctively, and younger babies can’t do it reliably at all.

    Here’s an adorable video of babies “swimming” underwater (time skipped to examples). The youngest ones hold their breath, open their eyes and “kick”. But if their wasn’t an adult their to help them, they wouldn’t surface to breathe. It is not a functional survival instinct, and it is also not fully retained in adulthood.

    But anyway, back to the issue at hand here: The counter argument to this “exaptation” idea is simply that, of course, even very lean people with athletic builds can swim and dive very well too – far better than any chimp, even though they are comparatively lean.

    But they have to learn to do it. Humans can choose to learn this skill; our intelligence, self awareness and general curiosity gives us sufficient motivation. A person in deep water who has never learned to swim will very likely drown. And humans don’t have much left in the way of instincts to guide our base behaviour.

    Even if a chimp’s biological engineering is up to the task of competent swimming, what motivation do they have? Their ecological niche hasn’t driven them to look for food there; it’s nothing more than a hazard to them. If you raise one in captivity and take all its survival pressures away, it might have the opportunity to overcome its avoidance instincts and experiment a little, but that’s the most one could expect.

    But really, all of this is besides the point to me.

    A couple of people mentioned macaques higher up, so I checked out a couple of videos. Here’s a good one. They forage for food in the water, but they can also swim underwater (quite well!) and hold their breath for around 30 seconds. That’s on par with the average person (who can swim), and they have basically none of the adaptations the AAH claims for Homo sapiens as a result of aquatic life.

    Doesn’t that undercut the whole premise?

  153. Entropy101 says

    The bottom line: Humans do swim and dive better than chimps and the simplest, most plausible explanation is simply that it is the result of some natural selection.

    Can you please explain why the simplest explanation is natural selection and not learned behavior?

    And since I do a bit of freediving myself, I have all these questions regarding equalization, efficiency in diving, energy consumption versus amount of energy collected in food and shallow water black outs. But those are a bit more specific and not really interesting before there is an answer on that first question.

  154. Ichthyic says

    David, way back up at six, inquiring about Candiru…

    Indeed it is. But is it wrong?

    Yes, it is. those catfish don’t “exploit” mammalian urogenital tracts.

    there has been ONE documented instance of it in all of history, and even that one is suspect.

  155. great1american1satan says

    OK, I don’t buy AAH for a moment, but there’s one piece of visually compelling evidence that I would like to see refuted (I’m sure you guys can do it). Babies, when trained, can swim:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_JgvORbvkk

    Now those babies probably start a little less than a year old, but still… How the hell aren’t they drowning? This may be more amazing to me as a person that can’t swim, can’t bear to open my eyes underwater, than it should be. But I see those babies with nothing covering their noses or mouths, and I have no idea why they aren’t choking.

    Also, that whole baby swimming practice seems creepy and dangerous to me. But there it is. Swimmin’ babies. I once fell in the Green River (of Killer fame), sank to the bottom, and walked out. I’ll be able to float when I’m dead. Until then, eesh…

  156. says

    Argh!

    But if theirthere wasn’t an adult theirthere to help them

    I don’t know how I let that happen.

    The appropriate self flagellation has occurred.

  157. says

    That’s the same video I posted, great1american1satan. :)

    Very young babies have a ‘diving reflex’ that closes the epiglottis (so the Internet tells me). You’ll notice the youngest babies in the video at around the 20 second mark, wiggling their limbs underwater. Some of them make a bit of headway upwards, but clearly wouldn’t get their heads above water; others don’t float upwards at all. None of them (as shown in the video at least) would be able to get to air on their own. I consider that a pretty critical part of swimming, personally.

    It’s only the older kids with the coordination and strength to get their heads above water. At that age, that diving reflex is apparently gone.

  158. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Algis

    I was under the impression that your hypothesis posits wading as the selective pressure for humans walking upright. So what’s swimming got to do with it? If we could swim, we wouldn’t need to wade. This argument seems inconsistent.

    Also, I fail to see why our ability to swim marginally better than apes is in any way indicative of an amphibious evolution. Surely only physical adaptations which facilitate swimming can prove that? I fail to see how the ability to learn an activity proves it.

  159. Anri says

    algiskuliukas:

    Humans swim and dive better than chimps.
    Everyone – that is, everyone who is not in some bizarre denial about these ideas, knows this. It is backed up by an overwhelming mass of behavioural evidence. Billions of humans have been observed swimming, but just a few chimps. Thousands of people have swam across stretches of water greater than 5km but the river Congo has separated the three African species of great apes for millions of years. Thousands of people have dived to depths greater than 5 m. but no chimp has ever been observed doing this.

    This is the single, simplest, most pertinent fact imaginable in this debate. It is what Alister Hardy described as the “first and foremost” point to make (Hardy 1960:643), which presumably why the “definitive web resource” on the idea fails to even mention it, let alone report anything like the major point behind it fairly.

    …has it yet been demonstrated the early hominids were better swimmers, or more prolific swimmers than chimps?

    Because if that hasn’t been demonstrated, I’m not sure how it can be used as a starting point for an argument.

    I mean, I suspect we’re a hell of a lot better at walking on dry ground than chimps, too, or any other great ape, for that matter.

    Also:
    anthrosciguy:

    But you say we did enough swimming and diving to have convergent evolution outfit us with the features (inaccurately described, of course) of cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenia.

    Just not enough to make us as instinctive a swimmer as a macaque.

    And, of course, all of those well-known hairless water dogs, like Golden Retrievers.

    …what?

  160. says

    @Algis:

    Your AAH is literally this:

    Humans dive and swim better than chimps because humans dive and swim better than chimps.

    I know you’ll probably discount it, but I’ll continue to show you where that lies. You posit that humans dive and swim better than chimps because of natural selection. Said natural selection lies on the premise that those humans who could survive in the water were the ones who reproduced, creating babies who are better swimmers in the end.

    In order to survive in the water (discounting predators) you must be a pretty good swimmer. Chimps don’t swim (often) because they avoid the water – smartly for the predators and parasites it might carry. So yes, we certainly dive and swim better than a species who tries their damned hardest to avoid the water if it can help.

    Therefore your premise, summed up – humans dive and swim better than chimps because natural selection favored humans who dove and swam better than chimps.

  161. says

    There does seem to be a problem with the idea of humans as adapted to swimming. For it to work (especially if they only swam for a small part of their time), you’d have to have a strong selection pressure. However, you’d then need a very strong benefit to make up for this pressure.

    What I mean is that if individuals are dying often enough for this to constitute a selection pressure, wouldn’t most of the early humans simply avoid the water? Maybe stay near the shore, where no real swimming is required?
    You’d need not only a good food resource, but a food resource good enough to make up for the fact that many individuals would die. Otherwise, the populations that simply didn’t swim would outcompete the ones that slowly adapted to swimming, while losing many individuals.

    Exactly how much food could you get from such methods and would that be enough to offset the loss of population during the adaption period?

  162. Entropy101 says

    @Kagato

    All mammals have a dive reflex. It’s called the mammalian dive reflex and is a vestige of evolution. Adults have it as well although not as strong as newborns. With training it can be triggered and/or enhanced.

    In humans the dive reflex is triggered by the combination of a breath hold and the immersion of the face in water. The colder the water, the stronger the reflex. The main things that happen are the slowing of the heart rate and vascular constriction in the extremities. If you make a deep dive, you will also experience a blood shift, but then you will have to dive to large depths or do empty lung dives. (Do not try empty lung dives, even in pools (up to 3 meters), if you are not trained to do so. It can result in lung and or trachea squeezes, which are lung under pressure related injuries.)

  163. algiskuliukas says

    Re 159 Amphiox

    Why do think this conjecture so laughable?

    I do not find it “so laughable”, just mildly amusing that such a wide variety of “dry” stories have been offered to explain why we swim better than chimps, rather than the one that usually would be invoked. (Nothing to say about that, I notice.)

    Why is it that any speculative idea is to be taken seriously and given the cloak or respectability as long as it does not involve moving through water, but if it does, then it can be sneered at ad nauseum.

    Amphiox, I keep asking you this, and you never seem to get round to answering… I thought you said you LOVED this idea. But you sound more and more like someone obsessed with finding fault with it. Either you’re telling fibs or there is something you’re not telling.

    Honestly, I do not have any real problem with the throwing hypothesis, the ER hypothesis, the postural feeding hypothesis, the energy efficiency hypothesis, the vertical climbing hypothesis and a whole host of other hypotheses. They all make some sense to me as they all have supporting evidence to back them.

    The difference between you and I seems to me that there is one kind of hypothesis about human evolution that you are determined not to take seriously at all, and they are the ones that contain anything to do with the dreaded ‘a’ factor. Me, I am open to those too, because they too make sense and have supporting evidence to back them up.

    What’s going on here?

    Algis Kuliukas

  164. algiskuliukas says

    Re 160 Amphiox

    No it isn’t a “line” of evidence. It is a single observation. A point. To make a line you need at least one other piece of evidence. Otherwise you are simply orbiting in just-so-story circles around that one point…. No it is not. Because as a single point it can be anchored anywhere. You need at least one other piece of evidence to make it relevant. Evidence such as, for example, a time.

    Rubbish. You are demonstrating that phenomenon I keep seeing in places like this – one-way only critical thinking.

    You support or accept (or at least do not voice any criticism) of any idea that is safely anhydrous, but anything yeuky and wet, and your entire mental thought kicks into gear to look for and, of course, find some kind of fault.

    You are clutching at straws. What do you mean ‘it needs another piece of evidence to make it relevant? A time element? The time element is that the LCA had the same ability to swim and we, today, do not have.

    What single piece of evidence could possibly be more pertinent to the question “has man been more aquatic in the past, compared to chimps?” than how well we swim compared to them today?

    I keep repeating, but you keep ignoring, that my model is called River Apes… Coastal People. The improved swimming ability, in my view, came quite late, at the time of modern Homo sapiens therefore it is us, our species that is most signiciantly compared with chimps that is pertinent to the idea.

    I do not know if humans were even more aquatic earlier, say as Homo erectus, as Marc Verhaegen would have it and I doubt that we will ever know. But modern humans we do know and guess what… we do swim and dive better than chimps.

    Algis Kuliukas

  165. Entropy101 says

    @Algis

    The improved swimming ability, in my view, came quite late, at the time of modern Homo sapiens therefore it is us, our species that is most signiciantly compared with chimps that is pertinent to the idea.

    If it came quite late, how could it have been a evolutionary selection criteria for walking upright, among other things?

  166. algiskuliukas says

    Re 161 PZ Myers

    That’s it? Of two species that are both poor swimmers, one is less lousy at it than the other, so therefore, one had to have gone through an aquatic (“wading”) phase in it’s evolution? Really? That’s why we should believe this strange notion?

    Don’t understand “had to have gone through”. Evolution has no purpose, PZ. Didn’t you know.

    Don’t understand “should believe” either. I’ve just outlined some pretty obvious evidence showing that humans do swim better than chimps and argued why n.s. is a better explanation than exaptation just so stories.

    I am not surprised, you’re belittling the idea, considering the bigoted, ignorant name calling you’ve dished out to me since I heard you thought Jim Moore’s web site was “great” but no impartial reader (and I suspect there will be one or two, even here) will be impressed with your response so far.

    Out of the major physical differences between humans and chimps, several could be explained as adaptations to swimming, so it’s a very economical argument. Coastal diets might explain some more and wading might explain the rest. Maybe that’s why you people should be a little less keen to sneer.

    How about a counter-proposal, PZ? What’s your “big idea” to explain all the differences between humans and chimpanzees? Can you name one human trait that is better explained without the dreaded ‘a’ factor? Should be easy, right – after all the idea is as crazyb as space apes.

    Algis Kuliukas

  167. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Forgive the intrusion from a non-biologist, but anyone who has watched kids swimming for more than a few minutes in just about any body of water will have noticed how quickly little humans lose body heat in the water (and even us bigger ones get cold when we come out of the water). If at some point in our evolution we spent enough time in the water for it to exert adaptive pressure, wouldn’t one of the effects have been to evolve a way to retain body heat in the water?

    Apologies if this has been addressed before.

  168. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s obvious AK is missing the timeline and the implications thereof. If any selection for swimming wading occurred a few million years ago, it wan’t Homo sapiens, and the ape-creatures as the time would have avoided water due to the predators present. The evolutionary selection to avoid water would be intense. He refuses to address the problem of aquatic predators in African waters.

    Swimming/diving only became more common after Homo sapiens arose, simply due to having language, and a oral history of things to avoid. Avoid water since crocodiles and hippos live there, and will kill you. But as Homo sapiens began to spread, they noticed the new waters did not contain those killers. Explore the water, cautiously. But with language, any swimming/diving is now cultural, not evolutionary. AK misses the boat.

  169. algiskuliukas says

    Re 163 Menyambal

    Then you recite some formula about the reciprocal (that sounds like you misunderstood it) as proof that a little can affect a lot.

    Li, W. (1997). Molecular Evolution. Sinauer Associates (Sunderland, MA) p39

    It’s population genetics 101.

    Try running PopGen.exe, a simple genetics simulator. Try setting a relatively low population size and an allelic advantage that is tiny. See how long it takes for the allele to become fixed.

    My problem is that if a small amount of swimming could have made all the differences between us and chimps, as you seem to say, sometimes, you are giving a small influence very big results. Huge.

    It’s surprising how little is needed. It’s counter-intuitive but that does not make it crazy, right?

    Try PopG.exe and see for yourself.

    I have said above, and you have totally fricking ignored…

    I’ve ignored it because by stating it you are showing your ignorance of the way evolution works. Sorry. Learn some population genetics.

    For an allele to become fixed in a population the degree of selection need only be slight, assuming a relatively large population size ( s > 1/(2Ne) – s= selection, Ne – effective population size) and no counter selection.

    As you guys assume there was sufficient selection, or drift, without any aquatic factor at all, it’s churlish to pretend there is suddenly some now, when I invoke waterside ideas.

    Science, real science, the stuff you sneer at, has done the analysis, as best as can be done, after taking all I have said into account, and not found swimming

    Please cite some evidence that it was looking.

    And please stop misrepresenting me. I do not sneer at science. I love science. The scientific method will get this right one day no matter what you or I say or do. I sneer at the ignorant bigotted sneering of a group of self-righteous pseudoskeptics who cannot discriminate, in terms of plausibility, between a simple, modest, evidence-based, totally Darwinian idea and some of the craziest ideas ever thought of.

    Algis Kuliukas

  170. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Algis

    You didn’t answer my 171.

    Also, in order to demonstrate that our ability to swim better than chimps is because we evolved for an amphibious lifestyle you need to point out the physical, evolved traits we as a species possess that make us better at swimming, and then you need to demonstrate that we evolved them to be better at swimming. The fact we are hairless, for example, undoubtedly makes us more streamlined in the water, but I’m not convinced that we evolved that way for that purpose.

  171. algiskuliukas says

    Re 165 Kagato

    I’d say infants can float, but only just.

    Well if chimp infants sink, then “only just” would be a satisfactory differential for a human mother to enact a rescue.

    If it turns out that chimp infants actually float better than human infants I will drop this idea like a stone in a pind, never to return.

    A person in deep water who has never learned to swim will very likely drown.

    If human ancestors lived on the coasts this would rarely have been the case though. Of course some would drown – crucially, more than chimp ancestors – but that is a positive argument for this idea when one considers that evolution works by selecting those traits that help individuals to survive.

    Doesn’t that undercut the whole premise?

    Not at all. The last common ancestor of Macaques and Humans lived about 25 million years ago, the LCA of humans and chimps around 5-7 mya. That means there is plenty of time for some species of Old World Monkeys to have become more adapted to swimming and diving than we did.

    The key comparisons here are always with chimpanzees and gorillas. Always be wary when some aquaskeptic starts comparing with dolphins or other aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals.

    Algis Kuliukas

  172. algiskuliukas says

    Re 166 Entroy

    why the simplest explanation is natural selection and not learned behavior

    I guess they are not mutually exclusive and in fact part of the same thing. What animals are able to learn to do is at least in part a function of their genes. Mammals, especially Primates, and most especially our clade among those Primates, exhibit a lot of behavioural flexibility. I am not denying that. But even that flexibility is determined to a large extent by natural selection.

    Algis Kuliukas

  173. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    . I am not denying that. But even that flexibility is determined to a large extent by natural selection.

    No, you don’t understand the difference between a cultural adaptation and an evolutionary adaptation. Once language became available to Homo sapiens, the adaptions became mostly cultural. The adaptations to be able to talk and process language were evolutionary, and these evolutionary changes allowed for cultural adaptations. Evolution has nothing to do with swimming/diving recently, as no cultures use the water that frequently. Nothing is evolutionary just because you claim it so.

  174. algiskuliukas says

    Re 171 Thumper

    I was under the impression that your hypothesis posits wading as the selective pressure for humans walking upright. So what’s swimming got to do with it? If we could swim, we wouldn’t need to wade. This argument seems inconsistent.

    Also, I fail to see why our ability to swim marginally better than apes is in any way indicative of an amphibious evolution. Surely only physical adaptations which facilitate swimming can prove that? I fail to see how the ability to learn an activity proves it.

    Wading for bipedalism – early. Swimming for several other things – late.

    That human evolution is a mosaic, with bipedalism coming much earlier than the rest is mainstream. Many aquaskeptics, like Amphiox, are still apparently under the impression, (at least he/she was just days ago) that this was still what the idea was all about. The Hardy/Morgan U-Turn hypothesis was it’s original form, true, but some of us have moved on…

    River Apes… Coastal People
    Another just-so story (but based on the evidence) so what follows is just my model, a speculation, right… ?

    River Apes (pre-Homo > 2.6Ma) – posits the evolution of bipedalism from a wading-climbing LCA of all great apes, through adapting to seasonally flooded galery forests (flooded for 4 moths a year, arid the rest). As E Africa got drier, the trees didn’t disappear uniformly but would have shrunk back closer to gallery forest refugia. Our ancestors would have clung to those to.

    As Africa got drier still, and life became harder as more rivers and wetlands dried up, some ended up living by Rift Valley Lakes and, eventually the Indian Ocean coasts as rivers lead to the sea. There’s a much more reliable food supply (with few competitors and predators) there.

    Coastal People (post Homo < 2.6Ma) – posits the evolution of beach combing, striding efficient bipeds (where better in the natural world to go for a walk?) that swam and dived sometimes to procure more food. Rich foods high in DHA/Iodine led to encephalisation, swimming was a precursor to speech. Once we became smart modern humans we left our East African coastal homeland and colonised the world.

    Note that at no stage do I argue that our ancestors were in any way "amphibious" just that they were subject to more selection fro wading, swimming and diving than chimps.

    Algis Kuliukas

  175. algiskuliukas says

    Re 173 Kathryn

    Humans dive and swim better than chimps because humans dive and swim better than chimps

    Well I accept that there is some circularity there, but then many models of human evolution invoke feedback loops which are essentially the same kind of thing minus the dreaded ‘a’ factor.

    I’d prefer to argue it like this: Humans do swim and dive better than chimps. The LCA of the two did so the same, therefore since the LCA the net change in swimming/diving ability has favoured our lineage more than it has their’s. It seems perfectly natural for a Darwinist to assume that the reason for this change was good old natural selection, as it is reasonable to assume that the reason we walk better than chimps and that they climb trees better than us are also explained by the same, non-mysterious, phenomenon.

    On the predators/parasites thing, I should point out that my own model proposes that the early (pre-Homo) ancestors did relatively little swimming, inhabiting seasonally flooded gallery forests. This is almost the savannah theory, as Amphiox was arguing recently. It was specitically designed to fit in with the unequivocal evidence placing early hominins in broad savannah macro habitats.

    As rivers lead to the sea (crazy, right?) I am postulating that as climate change got ever more severe in the last 3Ma some fortunate populations found themselves on the coasts where the food supply would be a little more reliable, for which there’d be fewer competitors and fewer predators.

    As far as I am aware, parasites are much rarer in sea water than they are in fresh water although I am sure I will be corrected on this if I am wrong.

    Algis Kuliukas

  176. algiskuliukas says

    Re 174 LykeX

    For it to work (especially if they only swam for a small part of their time), you’d have to have a strong selection pressure. However, you’d then need a very strong benefit to make up for this pressure.

    Well that’s the thing I dispute.

    Download and run PopG.exe yourself. Try plugging in extremely low levels of selection, and even lower mutation rates. See how low the population can go before drift takes over from n.s.

    It’s counter-intuitive how little selection is needed to overcome drift. Put in that context a coastal population might hardly notice the loss of a few people every few years, but this could still have a profound, and remarkably rapid effect on phenotypes.

    I gave a talk on this a few years ago at UWA and the professor of genetics came up to me after the talk and basically said that no geneticist doubts that tiny amounts of selection can have profound effects on populations.

    It always frustrates me that this most fundamental point has been overlooked by friend and foe on this debate for decades.

    Hardy asked “Was Man More Aquatic in The Past?” but no-one seems to have wondered “… and if so, how much more?” It turns out the answer to the latter is “… not much at all would have done the job”.

    Algis Kuliukas

  177. rowanvt says

    A person in deep water who has never learned to swim will very likely drown.

    If human ancestors lived on the coasts this would rarely have been the case though.

    People get swept out to sea or knocked off their feet in the ocean all the time. And this upright, narrow biped is a terrible shape for wading in the ocean any further than where the waves might reach your knees. In fact, we’re rather a terrible shape for wading in general. My dog moves quicker and easier through ‘wading-depth’ (for her) water than I do.

    And with regards to a later comment about fewer predators? Hyenas love the coast line. I’m sure other predators have learned that sea flotsam can be tasty.

  178. David Marjanović says

    Another thing, mainly for the beach version, though I think this may be true of river-living bull sharks too:

    Apparently, most kinds of sharks, when they bite humans, figure out that humans aren’t their usual prey and desist.

    How can they regard humans as “not their usual prey” if we were plentiful in shallow seas?

    No, that’s not how it works. Sharks* taste us, find out we’re not fat enough to be worth the effort, and move on to find a seal. Bite first, ask questions later.

    * I’ve only ever heard this about great whites; no idea about other species.

    manatees and dugongs (even with their special “slow metabolism” – whatever that is)

    Go to your nearest university library and open a basic textbook on comparative physiology. That’s all I can say without getting exasperated and/or snarky.

    David, way back up at six, inquiring about Candiru…

    Indeed it is. But is it wrong?

    Yes, it is. those catfish don’t “exploit” mammalian urogenital tracts.

    I know. This was about other species than candirú exploiting “dangling, worm-like appendages” by confusing them with a worm and biting.

    Why is it that any speculative idea is to be taken seriously and given the cloak or respectability as long as it does not involve moving through water, but if it does, then it can be sneered at ad nauseum.

    I’d happily sneer at several of them, at length. Some are even sillier than the “killer ape/Man the Hunter” ideas that Morgan was reacting to. They’re just not the topic here.

    I do not know if humans were even more aquatic earlier, say as Homo erectus, as Marc Verhaegen would have it and I doubt that we will ever know.

    Oh, Verhaegen’s claim of pachyosteosclerosis in H. erectus is very easy to test histologically: just take a long bone, saw it through in the middle, and look at it. If the effect is very weak, you may need to download Bone Profiler to quantify it, but usually it’s glaringly obvious. Indeed, the pachy- part is usually visible from the outside, without any cutting at all – the banana-shaped ribs of sea cows or pachypleurosaurs or mesosaurs are famous examples.

    For an allele to become fixed in a population the degree of selection need only be slight, assuming a relatively large population size ( s > 1/(2Ne) – s= selection, Ne – effective population size) and no counter selection.

    I’ve asked several times how you get from this to “half an hour per week”. You have never replied.

  179. algiskuliukas says

    Re 187 Me

    Sorry. This was badly worded. (Missed a couple of sentence – inserted in bold below – out).

    That human evolution is a mosaic, with bipedalism coming much earlier than the rest is mainstream. Many aquaskeptics, like Amphiox, are still apparently under the impression, (at least he/she was just days ago) that this was still what the idea was all about. The Hardy/Morgan U-Turn hypothesis was it’s original form, true, but some of us have moved on…

    Should have read…

    That human evolution is a mosaic, with bipedalism coming much earlier than the rest is mainstream. In 1960, when Hardy first articulated his ideas, this was not so clear. Elaine Morgan, not being a specialist, naturally followed Hardy then, in assuming the “single more aquatic phase did it all” kind of thing. Many aquaskeptics, like Amphiox, are still apparently under the impression, (at least he/she was just days ago) that this was still what the idea was all about. The Hardy/Morgan U-Turn hypothesis was it’s original form, true, but some of us have moved on…
    Algis Kuliukas

  180. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Algis

    OK, thanks for clearing that up. And my use of the term amphibious was inaccurate; apologies for that.

    Your scenario of a periodically flooding forest (your reference to c. 4 months underwater makes your earlier comments about only needing half an hour a week in wading conditions a little confusing); is there geological and palaeontological evidence to support the idea that we evolved in such a setting?

  181. algiskuliukas says

    Re 190 Rowanvt

    And this upright, narrow biped is a terrible shape for wading in the ocean any further than where the waves might reach your knees

    My model (for about the 600th time) is called River Apes… Coastal People. That means I am proposing that wading-climbing (that means often with some degree of forelimb support) came early – in seasonally flooded gallery forests. Bipedalism did come early. It’s mainstream. My model was built to fit around that.

    Hyenas love the coast line. I’m sure other predators have learned that sea flotsam can be tasty.

    I’m sure hyenas do love coastlines – who wouldn’t? – but you are not going to tell me that ther is an equal risk of predation on coasts (where there are no grasses for vast herds of herbivores to feed on) as there is on the open plains of the savannahs or close to water holes?

    Algis Kuliukas

  182. algiskuliukas says

    Re 193 Thumper

    Your scenario of a periodically flooding forest (your reference to c. 4 months underwater makes your earlier comments about only needing half an hour a week in wading conditions a little confusing); is there geological and palaeontological evidence to support the idea that we evolved in such a setting?

    Sorry if it’s confusing. Funny, from where I’m sitting it’s all beautifully crystal clear! :-)

    It was actually half an hour of swimming I was talking about then – in the “coastal people” phase. My big post this morning was about swimming. I think it’s the “smoking gun” evidence for this idea. But, and I can see why this might be a confusion, my real research interest in in bipedal origins and that means the wading idea. So I can well understand how people keep getting the two things muddled up.

    Anyway, the point of slight selection is going to work everywhere, not just on the coasts, not just in gallery forests and wetlands, and not just for human ancestors. It’s a basic principle of evolutionary biology.

    I built the “River Apes” model around the fossil evidence so “yes” is the answer to your last point. The guy called “Ohsu” likes to cite the recent paper from Cerling et al as an argument against this, but all that paper really is trying to estimate is percentage tree cover using evidence from paleosols. I would simply point out that a 30-40% tree coverage is pretty much what one would expect in a rather thin and drying gallery forest habitat. If ohsu and others are seriously proposing that humans lived in even more open habitats that that, we’re basically back to the full-on savannah hypothesis that John Langdon argued (in 1997) was a straw man invention of Elaine.

    Algis Kuliukas

  183. says

    @ David Marjanović

    Check out:

    Carcharhinus leucas: Zambezi Sharks. These have been found many kilometers upstream in rivers (and not just in the Zambezi). They are also quite agressive and happily munch on humans. So yeah, we are not safe in rivers either.

  184. Amphiox says

    No, that’s not how it works. Sharks* taste us, find out we’re not fat enough to be worth the effort, and move on to find a seal. Bite first, ask questions later.

    * I’ve only ever heard this about great whites; no idea about other species.

    I heard that when Tiger Sharks bite humans they go “oooh, crunchy, might be a turtle, one of my favorite prey items” and go CHOMP!

  185. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Algis

    Right, with you. I don’t think half an hour swimming would have an effect. Surely when you say slight selection pressure, you mean not that many individuals have to be lost to, in this instance, drowning for that danger to form a significant enough selective pressure to favour those with traits condusive to not-drowning? I doubt very much that, in the sort of lifestyle that would involve a mere half an hour a week in water, drowning would present a significant enough danger even for that.

    That geological evidence you mentioned; presumably you discuss it in a paper at some point? Any chance of a link?

  186. Amphiox says

    I do not know if humans were even more aquatic earlier, say as Homo erectus, as Marc Verhaegen would have it and I doubt that we will ever know.

    “I doubt that we will ever know” is an admission that an idea is untestable and therefore not scientific.

    For an allele to become fixed in a population the degree of selection need only be slight, assuming a relatively large population size ( s > 1/(2Ne) – s= selection, Ne – effective population size) and no counter selection.

    Now put some real numbers into the equation. Or at least propose some reasonable numerical ranges which can be tested and verified by reference to some time relevant evidence.

    But, the populations of human ancestors all the way up to modern Homo have always been thought to be small, and in a scenario proposing a split in environments it is simply not reasonable to assume that the majority environment will provide no counter selection to the minority environment.

  187. Amphiox says

    As has been already thoroughly discussed in the earlier thread, a troupe of apes/protohumans can MUCH more easily defend themselves from attack from terrestrial predators when on land than they can from an aquatic predator like a crocodile or a bull shark while wading or swimming in water.

  188. algiskuliukas says

    Re 191 David Marjanovic

    open a basic textbook on comparative physiology

    Thanks, but could you point me to one where “slow metabolism” is specifically explained in detail. Never heard of it.

    Oh, Verhaegen’s claim of pachyosteosclerosis in H. erectus is very easy to test histologically: just take a long bone, saw it through in the middle, and look at it. If the effect is very weak, you may need to download Bone Profiler to quantify it, but usually it’s glaringly obvious. Indeed, the pachy- part is usually visible from the outside, without any cutting at all – the banana-shaped ribs of sea cows or pachypleurosaurs or mesosaurs are famous examples

    I must admit I’ve always been very skeptical about that. I have a Nariokatome Boy cast upstairs and the first thing one notices about the femur is how gracile it is.
    I have tried to get Marc to agree that Homo erectus was adapted to terrestrial bipedalism, like we are, but he will not do so. I must have spoken the term “weight bearing traits” twenty times but he just shrugs. The best you can extract from him is “I don’t know” – bizarre when he seems so certain that some evidence of pachyostotic bones is very strong evidence of manatee-like slow (part-time) diving.

    I’ve asked several times how you get from this to “half an hour per week”. You have never replied

    It’s a lower bound. I’m suggesting that even if the amount of swimming were this low, it would still be enough. I doubt the actual amount was much more, but it could have been, as much as “a few hours at a stretch” as Hardy originally suggested in 1960.

    By postulating a figure as low as that, it can be said that even if humans were 100% (to the nearest integer) they could still have done sufficiently more swimming than chimps to have made a significant phenotypic difference.

    Assuming a 16 hour waking day, that’s 112 hours per week, or 6,720 minutes. 30 minutes is 0.45% of that, so still 100% to the nearest integer, right?

    It’s only an idea. The key point is that even slight selection, all things being equal, will overcome drift if s > 1/(2Ne).

    Right. Enough for one day, Time for bed. I hope my efforts today have made one or two skeptics out there rethink a little. If not, I think I’ll just give up here and leave it to the bigots and the misrepresenters to do their cozy group sneering thing and try to get back to my PhD.

    So…

    Myers: Still think I’m an “idiot”?

    Algis Kuliukas

  189. Amphiox says

    It’s obvious AK is missing the timeline and the implications thereof.

    It is pretty obvious from his comments about my comments that AK has either not bothered to pay attention to, or has completely failed to understand, pretty much anything I’ve said at all.

    This, for example:

    The improved swimming ability, in my view, came quite late, at the time of modern Homo sapiens therefore it is us, our species that is most signiciantly compared with chimps that is pertinent to the idea.

    He doesn’t seem to realize that this admission invalidates his whole argument for swimming ability as a line of evidence. Completely. He tries to bring up the “mosaic” idea (which he falsely claims that I have not referenced, it is actually at the core of most of my arguments about the importance of time evidence) but that too is not relevant if he admits to the ability being only arising at the time of modern Homo sapiens, as the mosaic refers to adaptions arising at different times before the advent of modern Homo sapiens – human anatomy and behavior have not significantly changed since then (if it had we wouldn’t be Homo sapiens, but yet another species).

    By admitting that swimming ability arose only with modern Homo sapiens he is basically admitting that the null hypothesis of the ability being a cultural innovation is most likely correct.

    By admitting that swimming ability arose only with modern Homo sapiens he is also basically admitting that on the point of swimming his ideas are no different whatsoever than the already existing mainstream views, which ALL agree that increased exploitation of aquatic resources, with increased swimming and diving, is something that sets modern Homo sapiens apart from earlier human ancestors.

    By admitting that swimming ability arose only with modern Homo sapiens he is turning swimming ability from a datum of evidence in support of his idea to an observation his idea is trying to explain, which turns the whole thing again into a self-referential just-so story.

    By admitting that swimming ability arose only with modern Homo sapiens he is admitting that swimming ability cannot be used as evidence in support of his contention that wading lead to bipedalism. And that is the ONLY part of his overall scheme that is significantly different in any way to the already established mainstream eurytopic ideas.

    PZ asked him to focus on one line of evidence, and he happily settled on “improved swimming ability”. But by admitting that it developed only in modern Homo sapiens he is basically admitting that it isn’t a line of evidence at all, and that he had either lied to PZ and all the rest of us, or that he does not even understand what “line of evidence” as a concept even means.

    I’d happily sneer at several of them, at length.

    Several of them are presented as counter-examples for which the logic and evidence in support is equivalent* to what Algis has proposed, in the vein of “the evidence for THIS idea is almost the same in kind and quality as the evidence you present for YOUR idea, so why don’t you consider this idea a viable alternative to your idea“. Since Algis’ ideas are so weak, many of these alternatives are equally weak. The irony is that Algis can apparently recognize the weakness of those ideas but cannot see the identical sorts of weaknesses in his own ideas.

    *actually, many are somewhat better, even if still flawed.

  190. anthrosciguy says

    One line of evidence: humans swim better than chimps.

    That’s it? Of two species that are both poor swimmers, one is less lousy at it than the other, so therefore, one had to have gone through an aquatic (“wading”) phase in it’s evolution? Really? That’s why we should believe this strange notion?

    OK, you said it. OK, go to it gang. Kuliukas will at some point try to explain how a simple behavioral difference can be linked to this grand scheme.

    No, he won’t. At least that’s what a very long history shows us.

    We’ve long pointed out, for instance, that Algis’ attempt at evidence means that horses are or have been more semiaquatic than hippos, since they swim better. Many other such examples can easily be thought of. The counter to Algis’ claim consists of an obvious point, which he somehow does not find obvious. The reason, judging from a long long history, seems to be a combination of a very strong Morton’s Demon applied to a case of Dunning-Kruger.

  191. says

    The improved swimming ability, in my view, came quite late, at the time of modern Homo sapiens…

    So, what adaptations are you saying came from this? If we already have fully formed, modern humans, then what exactly are the changes that bring improved swimming ability?

    Maybe it’s because I wasn’t part of the earlier thread, but I’m having a hard time really pinning down precisely what the hypothesis actually is. What is supposed to happen when, and how?

    If there was a post in the earlier thread, I’d appreciate if anyone could link it. It’s kinda hard to get an overview on a thread that big.

  192. rowanvt says

    I’m sure hyenas do love coastlines – who wouldn’t? – but you are not going to tell me that ther is an equal risk of predation on coasts (where there are no grasses for vast herds of herbivores to feed on) as there is on the open plains of the savannahs or close to water holes?

    In your world do coastlines never have trees and grass? Because while I may not live in africa, where I am at least we have trees, or meadows, or large expanses of grass just a few hundred yards from the tide line. And looking at images of Africa, many of the beaches there are similarly forested. And, of course, these human ancestors would need access to fresh water, which would draw other prey animals and their predators.

  193. anthrosciguy says

    [swimming] can easily be done naked as the day you were born and can be learned quicker than it takes most humans to learn how to walk

    A big factor in that, I think, is that swimming does not involve working against gravity. Even crawling is much, much harder than a basic “swimming” motion when in water. Human infants require months of muscular development before they can hold their heads up, let alone any other activity. In water, all parts of the body are supported and even the weak muscles of an infant can achieve movement.

    An even bigger factor is that Algis is trying to contruct a “true lie”. (He’s subtly changed the wording of his usual claim to try to slip it by.) In fact the people who run infant swimming programs worldwide tell us, based on their decades of experience with millions of kids, that you can’t expect a child to learn how to swim until they are approximately two years old. They warn that their programs should not be seen as anti-drowning or drown-proofing programs. A few kids can learn to swim before the age of two, just as a few kids learn to walk at 6-7 months. Of course kids typically crawl well before the age of 1, which is the median age they learn to walk.

    There is a general mammalian instinct called the swimming reflex, which really is like the crawling reflex, with the same movements. It’s lost after a short period. During this period the child cannot actually swim, and certainly can’t hold it’s head up to breath.

  194. Amphiox says

    It’s only an idea. The key point is that even slight selection, all things being equal, will overcome drift if s > 1/(2Ne).

    ASSUMING no counter selection, about which I have already commented but which Algis seems to have ignored. Spending 99.55% of the time on land compared to 0.45% of the time in the water presents a HUGE opportunity for MULTIPLE avenues of counter selection.

    Also, selection coefficients are not as broad as that. Just because one spends 0.45% of the time wading in water does not mean that the selection pressure for bipedality from the wading is 0.45%, especially not when the creature in question was already facultatively bipedal to begin with. The selection coefficient is the degree of advantage that wading has over not being bipedal. So it would be 0.45% * the degree of advantage that being bipedal while in water has over not being bipedal while in water, with 0 being no advantage and 1 representing a state where not being bipedal in water leads to instant death or sterility. It would be higher if there were additional selection pressures on land that favored bipedality, but Algis already insists that these cannot exist (and if they did exist it would invalidate Algis’ idea that wading was the major selection pressure that produced bipedalism).

    So the actual selection co-efficient for wading on bipedalism is much, much smaller than 0.45%, if human ancestors spent only 0.45% of their time in the water. Indeed it would be unlikely to be higher than 1% if human ancestors spent ALL their time wading in water.

    And, IIRC, a 1% selection coefficient is regarded as actually a very high level of selection, not “slight” selection as Algis appears to be claiming. And I recall reading somewhere that selection coefficients over a few percent have been argued to be in fact too high for evolutionary change – the death rate from selection that heavy is so high that it actually retards any change in that direction, and instead becomes purifying selection that prevents a population from evolving in a particular direction.

  195. anthrosciguy says

    How about a counter-proposal, PZ? What’s your “big idea” to explain all the differences between humans and chimpanzees?

    This is an old tactic from Algis, and one which he shares with creationists:

    try to change the subject to the other view because you can’t provide decent evidence for your own

    attempt to knock down the other view, or a strawman of it, and then claim this strengthens your idea

    insist that the other view be one thing, one piece of evidence, one idea (an “umbrella hypothesis” in John Langdon’s term)

  196. Tethys says

    Oh FFS, have any of you that keep claiming infants float ever taken care of an infant? No, you couldn’t possibly have done so if you are so stupid as to claim that infants float. Infants and babies and children and adults do not float!!elebenty!!

    The videos posted upthread are of children who are at least a year old (the youngest of them) and they have been taking a water babies class for at least six weeks at the time that video was taken. These babies can walk, and they have been taught to hold their breath and wiggle around in the water. They are not swimming, and without the air in their lungs to create bouyancy, they would be sitting on the bottom of the pool.

    Every single one of those babies would drown in short order without their parent there to make sure they get to the surface to get a breath.

  197. ekwhite says

    I have a stupid question. I have read the thread about the claim that the brachiation of the human arm is an adaptation to swimming. If I remember learning to (barely) swim, the throwing your arms over your head bit is part of the Australian crawl, which I could never do properly. I could dog paddle or swim on my back for hours using my legs, however.

    I also remember that flippers and a snorkel increased my swimming abilities greatly. If we were adapted to aquatic life millions of years ago, wouldn’t we at least have webbed feet like a Labrador Retriever? They add Labs in swimming and most certainly don’t interfere with their running and jumping abilities.

  198. ChasCPeterson says

    I think I’ll just give up here and leave it to the bigots and the misrepresenters to do their cozy group sneering thing and try to get back to my PhD.

    I think that’s an excellent idea. Do so in good health.

    [Sirenians] lowered their total metabolic rate to reduce their demand for oxygen, obviating any need to change their myoglobin.

    oy, much is wrong with this sentence. The teleological phrasing is most unfortunate, and the putative link between myoglobin surface-charge and total metabolic rate is actually very indirect at best.

    Out of the major physical differences between humans and chimps, several could be explained as adaptations to swimming, so it’s a very economical argument. Coastal diets might explain some more and wading might explain the rest.

    or, you know, they might could not.

    How about a counter-proposal, PZ? What’s your “big idea” to explain all the differences between humans and chimpanzees?

    Not to speak for PZ but why must there be one big unifying idea?
    See, that’s the thing: your “model” is built around the evidence, you say, but it presupposes that yes, H. sapiens Was More Aquatic In the Past. It’s a model that modifies the Big Idea to match evidence without questioning the necessity of the Idea in the first place.

    one where “slow metabolism” is specifically explained in detail. Never heard of it.

    Maybe you’d prefer (as I do) ‘relatively low metabolic rate’. It’s not that puzzling.
    ref. 1
    ref. 2

  199. anthrosciguy says

    Then you recite some formula about the reciprocal (that sounds like you misunderstood it) as proof that a little can affect a lot.

    Li, W. (1997). Molecular Evolution. Sinauer Associates (Sunderland, MA) p39

    It’s population genetics 101.

    Interesting history about this, and drift BTW: Algis started out using Li as the source for the formula, then later switched to Kimura, and inbetween he used as his source for info on drift one Richard Dawkins, which anyone who knows Dawkins and drift will realize is foolish. Dawkins isn’t dumb, and certainly recognizes better than Algis about drift, but he’s a terrible source of in-depth info on it.

    There are several things that show Algis didn’t understand Li, some being his being corrected on it by geneticists. But there’s also Algis himself, since he has admitted he didn’t understand Li’s book: “Li’s book used maths (too complex for my brain, but I trust him)”.

    He’s trying to use a black box that promises answers, and he’s plugging in numbers he’s made up from thin air (he’s admitted this as well) and consequently suffering from GIGO.

  200. Amphiox says

    Actually I am puzzles why Algis perseverates over infants floating and/or being able to swim, as it actually as little relevance to his idea and just needlessly complicates his arguments.

    If he is proposing a social ape species that spends 99% out of the water and 1% of the time in the water, then mothers with newborns can simply stay out of the water until the newborn reaches an age where wading is safe. As a social species, other family members or allies can forage for mother and child in the water if necessary. The time out of the water would probably be much less than 1-2 years, since modern humans have vastly elongated childhoods and infancies compared to even Neanderthals. It could be as short as a month or two.

    It really seems like Algis is trying to grasp at anything that remotely suggests “aha! there’s water involved here!” and shoehorn it as support for his particular version of the idea, even when in fact it either does not support HIS version, is unnecessary for HIS version, or even flatly contradicts HIS version.

    It is a very two-faced way of arguing. He will accept even the broadest, vaguest kinds of arguments in favor, but tries to weasel out of counterarguments against by being specific.

  201. anthrosciguy says

    Thanks, but could you point me to one where “slow metabolism” is specifically explained in detail. Never heard of it.

    So…

    Myers: Still think I’m an “idiot”?

    Algis Kuliukas

    Re the first quote above, I want everyone to keep in mind that Algis has taken some zoology at least as an undergrad (“graduated with a degree in Zoology/Pharmacology from Nottingham University”), has done a 1 year masters, and has been studying at a supposedly PhD candidate level for going on a decade. All in a biology-evolution field.

    Re the second quote, Algis is his own worst enemy.

  202. Amphiox says

    How about a counter-proposal, PZ? What’s your “big idea” to explain all the differences between humans and chimpanzees?

    The existing evidence shows that there is no “big idea”. The human lineage is eurytopic, receiving multiple small selection forces from multiple directions and multiple settings. No single thing dominated. Whereas chimpanzees were specialists who stayed in one kind of environment.

    “Big” beautiful ideas, all of them, have long been slain by the ugly little facts.

    Arguably, even the question of the “differences between humans and chimpanzees” should not be asked in a evolutionary setting, because we have no fossils of the chimpanzee line, and therefore no evidence from the chimpanzee side. Since chimpanzees have evolved for as long as we have from the common ancestor, without chimp fossils we have no idea of which differences actually came about due to evolution on the chimp side of the divide. Therefore the question of how the “differences between humans and chimpanzees” arose is half-unanswerable and half-untestable, and therefore unscientific (until the confirmed identification of true chimp-line fossil evidence).

    The question that we are asking is really how the differences between humans and the LCA with chimpanzees arose. In the past people have used the chimpanzee as a proxy for that LCA, and in so doing started the erroneous meme/tradition of “finding the reason for differences between humans and chimpanzees”, but we now know that using that proxy is not valid. The whole thing is an exercise in anthropocentric bias.

  203. ChasCPeterson says

    Infants and babies and children and adults do not float!…without the air in their lungs to create bouyancy, they would be sitting on the bottom of the pool.

    Correct.
    Back of the envelope: If babies are 15% fat (as mentioned above) and the densities of fat and fat-free carcass are 0.9 and 1.1 g/mL respectively (reasonable estimates both), then the specific gravity of a baby is 1.07. Without lung air it sinks. If it holds its breath, it floats. But it has to be trained to hold its breath. But it still doesn’t float on its back unless you hold it that way first and train it to keep still while holding its breath when you let go for a few seconds.
    The floating-baby idea is the stupidest ever.

    Let’s get back to training chimps to perform the Australian crawl.
    (btw, the throwing-stones idea seems to me to explain only why we can do specific modern swimming strokes (crawl, butterfly, and competitive backstroke), but not to have anything to do with swimming ability, aptitude, or atraction in general.)

  204. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    153. algiskuliukas: I’m the first to argue that more science needs to be done. No-one is saying “it’s proven” or anything remotely near to that.


    Actually I have, and I kinda stand by it. For me, the smoking gun is Cunnane et al’s observations about DHA, AA and iodine and their relation to extant sapiens brain chemistry and especially their relation to sea food. For the life of me, I can’t understand, how anyone scientifically trained can make themselves say, that that observation is unparsimonous. Even as a bloody armchair scientist.

    But (to keep focus at one thing at a time, I don’t know if this was addressed in the confusion of the closed thread), is it indeed possible to detect isotopic diet residue on early Homo erectus specimens, as opposed to prior Homo habilis specimens?
    Again, positing Hh as a transitional Australopithecinae towards He, this being the first hominin with a vast encephalization increase circa 2mya. Also positing a correlation of this brain increase and He adapting to a saline proteine diet, e.g. salt water molluscs from a sea flooded Danakil archipelago, this based on Cunnane et al; coupled with the observation, that more DHA, AA and iodine are available in salt water food chains, than in fresh water or terrestrial ditto; coupled with the observation, that many extant simian species are prone to use pebbles and stones as tools (for cracking nuts, etc.), making it possible for these Hominina to have used them for cracking DHA, AA and iodine rich molluscs. Other than molluscs, an increased consumption of DHA, AA and iodine rich fish is also possible. Increased consumption of extremely (and off hand unparsimonous) specialiced terrestrial foods rich in both DHA, AA and iodine (and right now, I don’t know of of any on land, that just so happens to be rich in all three brain-specific micronutrients like seafood is) is also possible.

    I have to say, I have no idea what the isotopic residue indicators are for each of these food groups. But if isotopic diet residue indicators from Hh fossil teeth does not match the indicators for seafood, while they suddenly do for ditto from early He, would that not strengthen the notion of human encephalization taking off by increased consumption of seafood in ancient times? And conversely, would not detecting such not severely weaken the wet ape ideas?
    Whether or not hominin bipedalism is an aquatic indicator already from Sahel. 7mya is a different story, this here only focuses on human encephalization being linked to salt water seafood.

    I understand, that just finding one He specimen from this period around 2mya with evidence of having consumed seafood is not enough, either. One specimen can be a fluke, ’cause Hominina can be argued to be omnivores.

    How can such residues be measured? Has it already been done? Specifically for transitional specimens Hh—>He, from East Africa, say?
    -

  205. Amphiox says

    One also has to wonder why Algis thinks his waterside idea, where wading is 0.45% of the activity that human ancestors did, and 99.55% of the rest is exactly the same as the standard view, should constitute a “big” idea.

    Algis seems to think that the size of an idea correlates inversely with the number of people were are skeptical about it. It’s the only criteria by which his particular waterside version of the AAH can be considered a “big” idea. It is certainly much smaller in scope and ambition than any of the other AAH’s.

    Which should be telling. If you have to keep shrinking and shrinking and shrinking and shrinking your idea to make it fit with the facts (or you observe the proponents shrinking and shrinking and shrinking the idea with each subsequent iteration of it) then you really have to start considering the relevance of the comparison with the God of the Gaps.

  206. timanthony says

    216 comments on a house-keeping-related post. No new posts for several days. Lo-o-o-ong days. This is what can happen when a world-class biologist is confronted by the GDP of Ireland in the liquid phase.

    You’d think a professional biologist could metabolize his inbibations more efficiently. At least I would. Can’t wait to hear the “explanations”.

  207. ChasCPeterson says

    that observation is unparsimonous

    cue Inigo Montoya

    many extant simian species are prone to use pebbles and stones as tools (for cracking nuts, etc.)

    yeah?
    name 3.

  208. ChasCPeterson says

    216 comments on a house-keeping-related post.

    what?
    This thread explicitly continues one that already ate up nearly 1500 comments.

    No new posts for several days…Can’t wait to hear the “explanations”.

    Busy conference, e.g.?
    Didn’t really feel like blogging for a couple days?
    The fuck do you care?

  209. vaiyt says

    One line of evidence: Humans swim better than chimps.

    That’s one line of evidence alright – of your dishonesty, since people pointed out multiple times that you’re begging the question.

  210. Amphiox says

    A seafood heavy diet, particular of animals, is readily assessible by isotopic analysis. Homo erectus specimens are among the most common in the existing collections of human ancestors. A line of investigation is wide open for CHE to pursue.

    However, Homo erectus/ergaster is already established in the fossil record to have frequently used stone tools to crack open skulls to extract brains for food. If you’re talking about getting micronutrients needed for brain development there is no more direct source than the brains of other animals. That would be the null hypothesis CHE will need to distinguish his ideas from.

    The micronutrient profile of modern human brains also suffers from the time problem. CHE needs to show with evidence WHEN the dependence on these micronutrients became rate limiting for brain development (and he has to show that they are, in fact rate limiting in the first place). If it was only with the advent of H. sapiens then his idea becomes no different from the standard scenario, as exploitation of seafood resources by H. sapiens is well accepted and well established. And the idea that seafood micronutrients may have contributed to the increase in brain size from H. erectus to H. sapiens would not be anything earth shattering. It is only the idea that seafood micronutrients had a role to play in the increase in brain size seen in the transition from Australopithecus to early Homo that would be the new/different idea.

    It would also be helpful for CHE’s case if he could show that the micronutrients he postulates are in fact necessary for enlargement of the brain. Their presence in modern human brains may simply be a result of the fact that seafood is in fact a significant part of the diet of modern humans, while earlier human ancestors that had biggish brains may have been able to satisfy their brain development needs with other sources of micronutrients. We don’t have fossilized brain material from ancient humans to do micronutrient analyses on.

    Once he has established that dependence, he has to, again, present time relevant data of when the dependence occurred. If the dependence is primitive to all mammalian brains, or all primate brains, then that would be something, but if the dependence appeared with only modern H. sapiens then it could easily be simply an “arch” effect, where earlier human ancestors did not need those nutrients, but used them when available, and once modern H. sapiens began exploiting seafood resources, they used the seafood micronutrients, and then lost the ability to use other micronutrients in lieu of the seafood versions,

  211. Amphiox says

    We also hear, mostly from Algis, the contention that mainstream paleoanthropology is someone unjustly biased against waterside ideas and will not give them fair hearing. This is also flatly false.

    As we can easily see if we just look at what mainstream paleoanthropology actually says about human origins, we see bits and pieces of water-related ideas all over the place. That eurytopic human ancestors exploited a wide variety of environments including, for some populations, wet grasslands and marshlands is part of the mainstream. That human ancestors, when traveling long distances over the savannah, would wade to cross rivers, is part of the mainstream. That modern humans exploited seafood resources and that coastal habitats had an important role to play in the evolution and dispersal of modern H. sapiens is part of the mainstream. That sweat cooling necessitated the establishment of bases of operation within walking distance of reliable water sources is part of the mainstream.

    Wherever there has been good evidence in support of anything related to water, mainstream paleoanthropology as readily accepted it and added it to the mainstream theories with little fuss. That Algis consistently ignores this seems to me something of a persecution complex.

  212. says

    If Mr Anthony must know, EWTS was a working conference — it was a lot of talks on the subject of the relationship between women and secularism, with a great deal of social networking in between talks and late into the night, along with meeting a great many new people in the movement. We also spent the last day putting together a draft document that reflected the consensus.

    As for the liquid GDP, I always drink in moderation. I’ve even been known to turn down an offer of a Guinness (sacrilege!)

    So, simple answer: I’ve been really, really busy.

  213. Tethys says

    I don’t know if this was addressed in the confusion of the closed thread), is it indeed possible to detect isotopic diet residue on early Homo erectus specimens, as opposed to prior Homo habilis specimens? ~CHE

    Isotopic diet residue? You didn’t read any of the links in the last thread. They studied the isotopes in the tooth enamel, and microwear patterns/ phytoliths. They are two separate pieces of supporting evidence.
    Stable isotopes in fossil hominin tooth enamel suggest a fundamental dietary shift in the Pliocene.

    Accumulating isotopic evidence from fossil hominin tooth enamel has provided unexpected insights into early hominin dietary ecology. Among the South African australopiths, these data demonstrate significant contributions to the diet of carbon originally fixed by C(4) photosynthesis, consisting of C(4) tropical/savannah grasses and certain sedges, and/or animals eating C(4) foods. Moreover, high-resolution analysis of tooth enamel reveals strong intra-tooth variability in many cases, suggesting seasonal-scale dietary shifts.

    The dietary shift happened concurrently with the change in the ecosystem. Homo species came at the end of this period, and none of these species lived close to the seashore.

    As far as your DHA argument for which you have conveniently missed the horde poking it full of holes and sinking it, go read all the links in my 93 this thread.

    Link 3 contains this paragraph. Read it carefully, especially the last sentence.

    Cordain et al. (2001) have demonstrated that wild plant foods available on the African savanna (e.g., tubers, nuts) contain only tiny amounts of AA and DHA, whereas muscle tissue and organ meat of wild African ruminants provide moderate to high levels of these key fatty acids. As shown in Table 1.3, brain tissue is a rich source of both AA and DHA, whereas liver and muscle tissues are good sources of AA and moderate sources of DHA. Other good sources of AA and DHA are freshwater fish and shellfish (Broadhurst et al., 1998; Crawford et al., 1999). Cunnane and Crawford (2003) have suggested that the major increases in hominid encephalization were associated with systematic use of aquatic (marine, riverine, or lacustrian) resources. However, there is little archeological evidence for the systematic use of aquatic resources until much later in human evolution (see Klein, 1999).

    Links left in place so as to cite Cunnane, and mock CHE’s armchair science. * neener, neener, neener* :-P

  214. A. Noyd says

    rowanvt (#190)

    A person in deep water who has never learned to swim will very likely drown.

    If human ancestors lived on the coasts this would rarely have been the case though.

    People get swept out to sea or knocked off their feet in the ocean all the time.

    Right? Oceans are super friggin’ dangerous for tall, slim, bipedal critters. Tides, currents and breaking waves are brutal. Our choice of locomotion gets our legs sucked out from under us and our heads slammed down when we go past ankle depth even in gentle waters. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been rolled getting from ankle-deep water to neck-deep water and back.

    And as someone who grew up camping on rivers and hiking up them (in the water), rivers ain’t no picnic either. Moving around in a river takes a shitton of energy and attention. Furthermore, navigating rivers doesn’t encourage standing up on two legs more than it does getting down on all four for the added stability. That’s all before you consider predators, too.

    As for predators and other dangerous animals, when I visited southwestern Kenya we were constantly told of the danger of lingering near water. Any sort of fresh water. Because the obvious danger of hippos and crocs aside, everything needs water and nearly all animals will show up at water eventually*. The rule for most animals is to get hydrated and get away. The idea that soft, slow-moving (especially in water) humans have adapted to living in or right at these points of concentration is a ridiculous fantasy based on having zero understanding of the reality of African water ecology.

    I’m reminded of Ben Radford’s “women may be biologically programmed to prefer the color pink…[because] they had to be able to spot ripe berries and fruits” argument. It has the same problem in that it relies on its proponents having never done the thing they’re claiming acted as a selective pressure, whether it’s picking berries or hanging out in rivers and oceans.

    ……
    *I wrote this before seeing you (rowanvt) noting the same thing in #205.

  215. says

    #201: I see others have already ably dismantled your use of that formula for the likelihood of selection seeing a mutation above levels of chance drift, but I have to add one more thing: the formula is for a specific allele in a population.

    Can you name the allele you’re talking about? Or is it entirely imaginary?

    Myers: Still think I’m an “idiot”?

    Was there supposed to be something in comment #201 to persuade me otherwise?

  216. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    197. Amphiox: I heard that when Tiger Sharks bite humans they go “oooh, crunchy, might be a turtle, one of my favorite prey items” and go CHOMP!


    I think there’s an over emphasis on the mere existance of predators and parasites in aquatic habitats should somehow completely rule out that hominins could’ve lived there. If that was the case, no habitat could’ve housed hominins. Not jungle, grassland, rivers or coasts. Whether these apes would’ve been more likely to be taken by sharks and crocs in water, or lions and hyenas on land, the difference is the same. And the same goes for parasites. We must’ve existed somewhere, even though there are blood thirsty predators and gruesome parasites everywhere trying to take us down.
    Are you scared now? I am.
    -

  217. anthrosciguy says

    Algis has, to my knowledge, never identified just what mutation he is talking about, but he has said this about it:

    Now, according to my simulations even this would be enough for the allele to become fixed in the population within 30-40Ka on average, albeit assuming that there were no negative effects of having the allele and that the mutation would keep re-appearing if it became extinct.

  218. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    200. Amphiox: As has been already thoroughly discussed in the earlier thread, a troupe of apes/protohumans can MUCH more easily defend themselves from attack from terrestrial predators when on land than they can from an aquatic predator like a crocodile or a bull shark while wading or swimming in water.


    I think that’s relative. A waterside ape can just as easily leave the water to flee an aquatic predator (kinda like in “Jaws” or something, and yeah, I know, now I’m citing fiction).
    On land, they have a much harder time making a front against lions like wildebeests, or flee them like gazelles. And similar in woodlands. They need that big brain first to make spears, control fire, etc., before they can even venture beyond the beaches.
    -

  219. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think there’s an over emphasis on the mere existance of predators and parasites in aquatic habitats should somehow completely rule out that hominins could’ve lived there.

    Gee, it has been conclusively shown that it is unlikely for an aquatic period in human evolution, until language/culture evolved. And it all goes back to numbers. The problem with water, compared to land, is that there is now way to protect the divers/waders due to the slowness of the response.

    On land, if predators are spotted, the males can make a concerted defense that is used by baboons and chimps that usually chase off predators. So your argument doesn’t hold water. Just a vain attempt at reductio ad absurdum.

  220. anthrosciguy says

    I think that’s relative. A waterside ape can just as easily leave the water to flee an aquatic predator (kinda like in “Jaws” or something, and yeah, I know, now I’m citing fiction).
    On land, they have a much harder time making a front against lions like wildebeests, or flee them like gazelles. And similar in woodlands. They need that big brain first to make spears, control fire, etc., before they can even venture beyond the beaches.

    Nonsense. And since you have claimed to have read my website through several times a year, you know this is nonsense.

    http://www.aquaticape.org/predators.html

    First, we see that chimps handle predators quite well. It’s not absolute, but the fact that they survive in areas with terrestrial predators shows that an animal with no more smarts than our earlier ancestors, along with similar capabilities, and similar size and birth rates, can do so. It also shows how they do it, which is not usually by climbing trees (although that was certainly something we could do) or running away.

    We see no such animal, similar in size and reproductive rate, in any aquatic environment. That’s not an absolute proof that it’s not possible, but it’s certainly suggestive.

    Then, as I show on my page on predators, counterattack against aquatic predators is not generally as effective as it is against terrestrial predators. But even worse is that in attacks by aquatic predators, they are rarely seen before they strike. Fleeing or intimidation via bluff simply doesn’t get a chance to work, even if they were effective strategies.

    This also deals only with large predators and not the numerous microorganisms and smaller predators found in aquatic environments. Including them makes for an even bigger problem.

  221. A. Noyd says

    Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht (#232)

    A waterside ape can just as easily leave the water to flee an aquatic predator….

    Spoken like someone who’s never tried to get out of the water in a hurry.

  222. Ogvorbis says

    I guess I really don’t understand. A half-hour a week of wading selects for swimming and diving how?

  223. Tethys says

    CHE, address the isotope evidence that shows your armchair science is all wet from my previous comment.

    A waterside ape can just as easily leave the water to flee an aquatic predator

    Crocodiles can outswim, and outrun a human. They can also jump several feet vertically or horizontally out of the water to nab unwary critters off of branches or beaches.

    Hippos aren’t predators, but they can also outswim and outrun a human, and they are extremely aggressive and territiorial.

    Lions and hyenas? Circle the young, throw some rocks, and make some noise, they will look for easier prey.

  224. anthrosciguy says

    On the page from my website I linked to above is a short description of an incident at Mahale which involved a group of chimps surrounding a leopard den, which culminated in one of them entering the den and pulling out a cub (sounds from inside indicated the mother was in the den at the time) and bashing it to death. Others have been seen harassing a lion from a distance, rather like we see any number of small potential prey harassing predators (extremely common in birds). In a study (“Leopard predation and primate evolution”, by Klaus Zuberbühler and David Jenny, Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 43, Issue 6, December 2002, Pages 873–886) with radio tracking of leopards in the Tai forest (Ivory Coast) the researchers found that the leopards there actively avoided groups of chimpanzees.

    I don’t know about you guy, but my ancestors were as capable and smart as a chimpanzee, at least. :)

  225. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    217. Chris: many extant simian species are prone to use pebbles and stones as tools (for cracking nuts, etc.)
    220. ChasCPeterson: yeah? name 3.


    Well, now that you put me on the spot:

    Capuchin monkeys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyt0CIIL_Mg

    Various macaques: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3TrohgD7HM

    Chimps and bonobos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cp7_In7f88

    Gorillas: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1025_051025_gorillas_tools.html

    And of course these critters: http://hornshire.com/AAH/Erteb%C3%B8lle%20culture.jpg

  226. Amphiox says

    A waterside ape can just as easily leave the water to flee an aquatic predator

    Modern humans, standing even less than knee deep in water, have had a terrible track record of successfully fleeing from attacks by crocodiles.

  227. Amphiox says

    First, we see that chimps handle predators quite well. It’s not absolute, but the fact that they survive in areas with terrestrial predators shows that an animal with no more smarts than our earlier ancestors, along with similar capabilities, and similar size and birth rates, can do so.

    The key to these methods of self defence is that you have to have senses that can penetrate the medium enough to see the predators coming, and sufficient agility of movement within the environment, relative to the predator, to react as a group to the predator’s actions.

    It can be done in water.

    The method in which chimps defend themselves from land predators is roughly analogous to the methods that dolphins have been observed to defend themselves from sharks.

    That would be the level of aquatic agility and sensory definition you would need to pull it off.

    Not so easy for an wading ape. Even modern humans with full diving gear and weapons would struggle to pull it off.

  228. Amphiox says

    re 230;

    I have to say that my comment about Tiger Sharks specifically was not intended as any critique of any AAH idea, merely as a commentary on the previous comment about how White Sharks react after biting people, just to show that such a response is not stereotypic of all sharks.

  229. Amphiox says

    Right? Oceans are super friggin’ dangerous for tall, slim, bipedal critters. Tides, currents and breaking waves are brutal. Our choice of locomotion gets our legs sucked out from under us and our heads slammed down when we go past ankle depth even in gentle waters. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been rolled getting from ankle-deep water to neck-deep water and back.

    In a coastal scenario, having a quadrupedal body plan with grasping feet like a chimpanzee is far superior to having a bipedal body plan like a human. You are more stable on all four and you can grip the uneven surface with your feet.

  230. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    After reading all this, what with Tethys’ posts, there seem to be only one serious alternative to the brain specific micronutrients in question coming from seafood. That they came from terrestrial carcass brains.

    I have to disagree on the simplicity of an ape using a stone to gain access to this type of tissue, before it spoils, at least. And I’d like to ask all you extant Homines sapientes (okay, I looked that one up at some point) out there a very simple ethological question:
    * How many of you are ever in the mood for raw cow’s brain tonight? You know, grey an’ oozing an’ drippin’ with blood an’ stuff?
    * How many of you might just guzzle down a handful of oysters? Raw, straight out of the the shell, and as fresh out of the sea as possible, otherwise you complain to the chef?

    What is most parsimonous here?

  231. microraptor says

    Christian, the fact that we do not consume brains is a cultural effect. Many people, both ancient and modern, used the brains of other animals (and in some cases other humans) as a food source.

    Stop being disingenuous.

  232. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    I’d like to ask all you extant Homines sapientes (okay, I looked that one up at some point) out there a very simple ethological question:
    * How many of you are ever in the mood for raw cow’s brain tonight? You know, grey an’ oozing an’ drippin’ with blood an’ stuff?
    * How many of you might just guzzle down a handful of oysters? Raw, straight out of the the shell, and as fresh out of the sea as possible, otherwise you complain to the chef?

    What is most parsimonous here?

    You are a dumbfuck, Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht. No one cares about whether you’re in need of some oysters or whether you think eating brains is disgusting. Your opinion isn’t even worth shit. Shit is at least useful for something. Your opinion is worth less than nothing.

    Bring the physical evidence that our ancestors evolved bigger brains because of seafood or else STFU. Don’t bother shutting up and listening – we know you can’t do that -just shut up.

    P.S. You’re also an offensive idiot for your “Homines sapientes” garbage. This is for you:

    The name of our species, Homo sapiens (literally “wise human”) is singular in both Latin and English. The plural of the phrase in Latin–in the non-technical sense of a wise human–would be homines sapientes, but there is never any call to use a plural in English. There is only one species called Homo sapiens

  233. says

    How many of you are ever in the mood for raw cow’s brain tonight? You know, grey an’ oozing an’ drippin’ with blood an’ stuff?

    How many early humans would be able to go down to the corner grill and get a roasted chicken?

    If I was hungry, familiar with the feeling of starvation and not at all sure where my next meal was coming from, you bet I’d eat that brain. I’d eat anything I could cram down my throat and that I was reasonably sure wouldn’t make me sick.

    The fact that I don’t eat brains is mainly a result of the fact that I have alternatives. I don’t think this is a relevant comparison at all.

  234. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    #249 was in response to #244. If that didn’t happen, why prions?

    Halfway there ….

  235. Amphiox says

    How many of you are ever in the mood for raw cow’s brain tonight? You know, grey an’ oozing an’ drippin’ with blood an’ stuff?

    Sorry, but we actually have fossils of skulls smashed by human ancestors to extract the brain for food. They are actually pretty common.

    It doesn’t matter how queasy it makes YOU feel personally, but this is fact. An ugly fact to you, maybe, but fact nevertheless. You cannot run away from it.

    Fossil evidence of eating shellfish, however, is largely absent before modern H. sapiens came on the scene.

    And of course, there are many cultures around the world even to this day that do find brain to be a delectable food item. Falling for an eurocentric assumption about human behavior is a rather embarrassing mistake to make for someone discussing paleoanthropology in 2013.

  236. A. Noyd says

    Christian Heckmann Englebrecht (#244)

    What is most parsimonous here?

    Are you seriously arguing that the tastes of a particular contemporary culture are an appropriate metric for deciding which foods our distant ancestors would more likely have preferred? Because that’s fucking stupid.

    You’re also begging the questions that a) tastiness determines which nutrient source a species will pick rather than vice versa, and b) tastiness would sufficiently outweigh all the other factors in choosing nutrient sources (such as concentration of nutrients relative to ease of acquisition, whether the source has other chemicals that aid in nutrient absorption, proximity to other ideal food sources, etc.).

  237. Amphiox says

    http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/anthropology/article00521.html

    Signatures of essential chemical elements have been found in trace amounts in the tooth enamel of the three fossils genera, and the results are indicators of what South African hominins ate and what their habitat preferences were.

    “The greater consumption of meat in the diet of early forms of Homo could have contributed to the increase in brain size in this genus,” Prof Thackeray explained.

    No mention of seafood, which if it had been found, would have stood out and been newsworthy.

    The scientists also measured the strontium isotope composition of dental enamel. Strontium isotope compositions are free of dietary effects but are characteristic of the geological substrate on which the animals lived.

    According to the study results, all the hominids lived in the same general area, not far from the caves where their bones and teeth are found today.

    The area, notably, was not a seaside/coastal area where there would be access to seafood.

  238. anthrosciguy says

    What is most parsimonous here?

    Are you seriously arguing that the tastes of a particular contemporary culture are an appropriate metric for deciding which foods our distant ancestors would more likely have preferred? Because that’s fucking stupid.

    You’re also begging the questions that a) tastiness determines which nutrient source a species will pick rather than vice versa, and b) tastiness would sufficiently outweigh all the other factors in choosing nutrient sources (such as concentration of nutrients relative to ease of acquisition, whether the source has other chemicals that aid in nutrient absorption, proximity to other ideal food sources, etc.).

    And what he’s doing is saying that a great number of human beings never existed, since many did do just fine, growing normal brains, without shoreside foods.

    This is one form of an old, and incredibly dumb, AAT claim: that humans are, in Tobias’ words “hopeless savanna-dwellers”. This denies that humans lived in a place where we know that they did in fact live. It takes a special kind of blindness to argue that sort of thing, but something about the AAT inspires some people to commit themselves to that level of blindness and lack of thought before they write or speak.

  239. Tethys says

    I have to disagree on the simplicity of an ape using a stone to gain access to this type of tissue, before it spoils, at least

    It is very simple, and requires very little change in primate behavior. Increased grasslands provide more habitat for grazing ungulates. Grasslands are subject to seasonal wildfires that kill off whole herds at once. Our bipedal hominid troope merely has to follow the carrion birds or the smell of roasting meat to the nearest carcass, which has been cooked (or at least well smoked) by the recent wildfire. Frighten away any other carnivores, and its a pliocene barbecue. If bigger predators show up, grab the skull and run away!

    A few smacks on a boulder later, you have a tasty meal!

    A somewhat hairless body would be very handy if you need to beat the big predators to the carcasses from the wildfire. Flammable critters would be quickly removed from the gene pool if they went into a recent burn area too soon.

  240. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    Amphiox:

    there are many cultures around the world even to this day that do find brain to be a delectable food item. Falling for an eurocentric assumption about human behavior

    I dug out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Beck, Bertholle, and Child; 1961) and note this, from the index:

    Brains (Calf, Lamb, etc.) 441-2, 446-50

    Braised, 448
    Cold, 617
    Gratin of, 177
    in Red Wine, 449
    Sautéed: Brown Butter Sauce, 447; Other Sauces for, 448
    Soufflé, 194. See also Variations, 187

    I admit I’m a bit eeeeuwww about brain soufflé.

  241. anthrosciguy says

    have to disagree on the simplicity of an ape using a stone to gain access to this type of tissue, before it spoils, at least

    It is very simple, and requires very little change in primate behavior. Increased grasslands provide more habitat for grazing ungulates.

    There is a recent study showing that we did gather up brains and that these were actually from hunting, around 2mya. We’ve mentioned it before (although I’ve always thought that pirating kills was a likely way to get meat as well). So CHE here is arguing against known facts. He’s claiming that facts are not real. This, needless to say, does not constitute a valid part of the scientific method.

  242. Ichthyic says

    Oceans are super friggin’ dangerous for tall, slim, bipedal critters.

    Drowning is a pretty common cause of death here in NZ.

  243. gibb says

    DavidM, i meant no hostility, just pointing out that normal conversation is impossible with Algis. 485 was the countdown to when this hits 500 comments.

  244. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Christian, you are as big a time-waster as Algis. I, for one, hate oysters, clams and similar slime, and that was before I found out I was allergic. Somebody kept giving my parents smoked oysters, and the dog was the only one who’d eat them. I’d incredibly much rather have a steak, very rare, thank you, and would browse around on a cow a long time before I switched over to oysters. I have only eaten brains once, but I do know it’s a cultural issue.

    Liking to eat brains isn’t black and white, it’s a grey matter.

    —-

    As someone who has been paid to wade, I’ve said before that I’d go chimp for all of it.

    Here’s a water-related characteristic that I’d take as evidence of an aquatic life: polarized vision. I used to wear fishermen’s sunglasses. Those are so helpful that if you Google “polarized glasses”, the first ad hit says “Fisherman’s”. They let you see down through the surface glare, and really work. But we don’t have eyes that are polarized, now do we?

    It looks to me like chimps have less fur than gorillas do. I can’t be sure, and haven’t looked for data, but just clicked around a few photos. Gorillas, especially adult males, look as furred as a grizzly bear. Chimps, by comparison, look mangy. If it is really the case that chimps have less fur than gorillas, how will that affect the water hype-othesis?

  245. Amphiox says

    I dug out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Beck, Bertholle, and Child; 1961) and note this, from the index:

    So, not even eurocentric, then.

    Anglocentric?

    Englecentric?

  246. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    I’m just going to point out that a great many savannah “prey” animals have horns, which would make wonderfully-convenient handles for a skull-scavenger with hands.

    I’m also going to drop in this video, just because it makes me so damn proud. Men Stealing Lions Food on the savanna.

  247. Tethys says

    There is a recent study showing that we did gather up brains and that these were actually from hunting, around 2mya.

    Yes, I believe I read it. However, since food procured by hunting was defined as bones that lacked marks from other carnivores, there is no way to differentiate between an antelope that died in the fire and was scavenged by hominids and an antelope that was hit with a rock projectile.

  248. says

    So, not even eurocentric, then.

    Anglocentric?

    Englecentric?

    Very-recent-centric. I believe that if one were to look, one would find that brains (and a host of other foods that Anglo-Americans think are “yucky”) were commonly eaten by our very recent ancestors.

  249. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    btw the myoglobin stuff you guys brought to the table, kudos there, i love how he can’t process it.

    Thanks to Amphiox for the links.

  250. sawells says

    It’s always fun to see the AAH brigade on parade, just for the unique quality of the argumentation.

    The bipedal gait which we use to walk and run on dry land cannot have evolved through walking and running on dry land. It must have evolved for wading.

    The forearm adaptations that we use for complex tool use and throwing things cannot have evolved through complex tool use and throwing things. They must have evolved for swimming.

    Leopards, which weigh less than us and can be killed with rocks and sticks, make the plains uninhabitable; but crocodiles and hippos, which are bigger than us and impervious to rocks and sticks, do not make the water uninhabitable.

    Fossil evidence of our ancestors killing and butchering land animals in caves proves that we lived in rivers.

    The ability of human infants to drown proves that we’re adapted to water.

    Have I missed anything?

    Here, I’ll make a free original contribution to the AAH. Early hominids learned to make and use stone tools from sea otters. Prove me wrong. Sure, sea otters live near the wrong continent, but they totally used to live just off the African coast and taught australopiths how to bang the rocks together. The fossil evidence was all eaten by sharks but it’s still true because there’s no other way the early hominids could have learned to bang rocks together.

  251. Ogvorbis says

    I believe that if one were to look, one would find that brains (and a host of other foods that Anglo-Americans think are “yucky”) were commonly eaten by our very recent ancestors.

    Late 1970s and early 1980s in western Maryland. I helped butcher hogs and steers. And the brains were consumed. As was the marrow, and everything but the moo and squeal.

  252. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    and everything but the moo and squeal.

    Then how do you explain the Redhead’s steaks mooing if properly done, and he sausages squealing as I drop them into the fry pan? ;) (/absurd)

  253. Ogvorbis says

    Then how do you explain the Redhead’s steaks mooing if properly done, and he sausages squealing as I drop them into the fry pan? ;) (/absurd)

    That’s our ancestral memory of the sea otters trying to explain the concept of vectoring impacts to Austrophithecus oceanus.

  254. Robert Harvey says

    1. The whole AAT reasoning is a classic false syllogism.

    A table has four legs.
    My dog has four legs.
    Therefore, my dog is a table.

    Aquatic mammals are hairless.
    Human beings are hairless.
    Therefore human beings are aquatic mammals.

    2. Aquatic mammals have either thick fur or a thick layer of blubber. The hairless ones have blubber (whales, dolphins). The ones without blubber (beavers, otters) have dense fur. Seals have both. If anything, if humans were aquatic, since they lack blubber, they should be covered with fur. (Exception: Hippos, which have skin 5 inches thick instead of blubber or fur.)

  255. algiskuliukas says

    Re 229 PZ Myers

    Was there supposed to be something in comment #201 to persuade me otherwise?

    Admitting ignorance about manatee “slow” metabolism, you mean. Terrible that.

    Some of the people here – people who you suggested were some kind of experts – have shown themselves far more ignorant than that. Who is John Langdon? What’s the Hylobatian thing? Should I write to Tobias? But I notice you didn’t call them idiots.

    No, I meant generally, PZ? For some kook, idiot, loon I think I’ve more than held my own against the typically vociferous band of about 25 nay sayers that seem to have been attracted here.

    I think any impartial observer will see that I have been as scholarly, as knowledgable about evolutionary issues and rather fairer than most of the people here, especially your old Mr Twister, who I note has again turned up to provide lots of his special lines of gosssip.

    I was hoping that you might show a bit of graciousness and apologise for being so rude and ignorant after I’ve spent so much of the last few days contributing to your blog but I guess that was just naive.

    At least answer me this: Why do you find it so hard to discriminate between the totally plausible and the totally fucking crazy? Do you really place the idea that some selection from wading, swimming and diving might have made us different from chimps in the same bracket as the idea that the entire universe was created, just for us, in six days? Or do you retain a modicum of the power of discrimination?

    Algis Kuliukas

  256. Ogvorbis says

    Algis:

    I really am trying to grok what you are saying. Could you please explain how a half-hour a week of wading selects for swimming and diving?

  257. Robert Harvey says

    Aquatic quadruped mammals tend to have short limbs in relation to their bodies. They do not use their limbs very much for propulsion. They propel themselves by undulating their bodies or tails. Wading is not an important activity for most aquatic mammals. Aquatic quadruped mammals generally are at least as agile and speedy in the water as on land.

    Human beings have long limbs in relation to their bodies. They generally use their limbs for propulsion through the water. (The butterfly stroke was invented in the 1930’s, and is available only to very highly skilled swimmers.) The best human swimmers swim about as fast as an ordinary human being walking.

  258. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Fried-brain sandwiches are going out of style now, but look in St. Louis and to the east of there.

    I do want to complain a little about all the folks who seem to automatically associate “swimming” with the Australian crawl and other shoulder-straining new-fangledness.There’s a lot to be said for speed in the water, but we’ll never be as fast as a croc. What our ancestors would have needed is a slower, food-searching stroke, like Algis’s version of the breaststroke, something quiet.

    I like sculling with my hands, side-to-side, as it seems a lot more efficient for slow speeds. It also is good for slipping through weeds, according to a guy who used to go swamp-sculling a few decades back. It can be done face up or face down, and even while vertical as a way to “tread” water. It’s fun to do.

    Sculling is also something that would far better suit a chimp’s hand than ours. We are not aquatic.

    A really good life-preserver, like the Navy uses in wartime, has much buoyancy in front of the chest, to float the body chest up, and a big collar behind the head to keep the face up out of the water.

    Baby fat is not distributed like that.

  259. says

    I dug out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Beck, Bertholle, and Child; 1961) and note this, from the index:

    So, not even eurocentric, then.

    Anglocentric?

    Englecentric?

    Well, I’ve got recipes for brains in American cookbooks.
    The index from The American Woman’s Cook Book (copyright 1939) lists
    Brain rissoles… 270
    Brains, calves’, breaded… 343

    If that’s too old for you, I have The Joy of Cooking from 1997 that includes
    Brains, 732
    Braised in brown butter sauce, 732

    People eat brains as a delicacy.

  260. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    276. Robert Harvey: If anything, if humans were aquatic, since they lack blubber, they should be covered with fur.

    We don’t lack blubber. Or, at least human subcutanous fat, which is what helps keep us warm in lieu of fur, can be construed as an adaptation towards exactly that.

  261. says

    Doesn’t that undercut the whole premise?

    Not at all. The last common ancestor of Macaques and Humans lived about 25 million years ago, the LCA of humans and chimps around 5-7 mya. That means there is plenty of time for some species of Old World Monkeys to have become more adapted to swimming and diving than we did.

    So you should be able to look at crab eating macaques and easily identify the aquatic adaptations they have adopted, seeing as they exhibit exactly the behaviour you’re attributing to human ancestry? I mean, if that environment must have been the primary driver for the human form, we should see equivalent adaptations in the macaque line, right?

    That’s why macaques are obligate bipeds, have less fur, broad feet, and downward-pointing noses for diving, isn’t it? Hmm…

    I’m not arguing that macaques do not have any physical aquatic adaptations — I expect there are some — I’m only pointing out that they seem to have none of the adaptations proposed in the AAH. Despite being a more remote cousin, they are still primates with comparable morphology, so surely the same selective pressures would be at work?

    The key comparisons here are always with chimpanzees and gorillas. Always be wary when some aquaskeptic starts comparing with dolphins or other aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals.

    No, the key comparison should be to the LCA of humans and chimps, as you yourself said above. Both species have several million years of evolution between then and now, so you can’t treat chimps as a human ancestor analogue. Your evidence needs to be entirely in the hominin line if the AAH is to hold.

  262. Amphiox says

    I really am trying to grok what you are saying. Could you please explain how a half-hour a week of wading selects for swimming and diving?

    Or how a half-hour a week of wading selects of obligate bipedal walking on land, when the LCA was already a facultative biped.

  263. Amphiox says

    No, the key comparison should be to the LCA of humans and chimps, as you yourself said above. Both species have several million years of evolution between then and now, so you can’t treat chimps as a human ancestor analogue

    The LCA of humans and chimps was already facultatively bipedal. Primates were facultatively bipedal way back in the lineage of the apes, even likely all the way to the LCA of lesser and greater apes. The fossil record already shows this. This is one of those ugly facts that Algis continues to try to deny and dismiss. He tries to scoff at it as if it were unlikely. But sadly for him, the fossils show that this is the case. Likelihood arguments fall by the wayside because the fossils show that this is the case. However weird or strange or counterintuitive it might seem, the fossils show that this is the case. So now we have to explain this finding which the fossils show to be the case.

    So if you are looking for an explanation for the origin of bipedalism the LCA of humans and chimps actually isn’t where you need to look at all. You have to go further back, way further back.

    The difference between humans and chimpanzees is that on land, humans are near obligately bipedal, whereas on land chimpanzees are mostly quadrupedal and minimally bipedal. So, from the LCA, humans massively expanded bipedality on land, while chimpanzees reduced bipedality on land, and developed quadrupedal knuckle-walking.

    Algis’ waterside hypothesis offers no explanation here. There is no logical reason that wading in water for just a little bit of time per week should turn a facultative biped that can already happily switch between bipedal wading in water and other modes of locomotion on land into an obligate biped that goes bipedal on land.

    So if Algis is looking for an explanation for the origin of bipedalism he must look far earlier than the split between humans and chimpanzees. And if Algis is looking for an explanation for the difference in gait preferences between chimpanzees and humans, then wading does not explain anything at all.

  264. says

    @282: black bears and grizzly bears are both able to walk bipedally and semi-aquatic. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them walk on two legs in the water, though.

  265. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Algis, you’ve been a raving nutcase.

    I know you think you’ve been scholarly, but you don’t seem to understand the “scholarly” stuff you toss out to impress us. And you don’t even do that pseudo-scholarly thing very often—when you do, you still can’t avoid using insults, sneers and references to insanity. Most of your comments have been whining and snarly raves, with not even a skiff of scholarly to them.

    Remember, it was you who kept posting “SPACE APE!!! SPACE APE!!! SPACE APE!!! SPACE APE!!! SPACE APE!!! SPACE APE!!!” over and over and over. Nobody but you used all caps, nobody but you used multiple exclamation marks, nobody but you said it more than once. PZ said that he might say “Space Ape!” to someone, and you warped that into a frenzy of imaginary persecution—persecution that was only in your mind, your tinfoil-hatted, spittle-flecked, water-soaked mind..

    Remember, Algis, the original post was about the Aquatic Ape Theory. You, who do NOT subscribe to it, have been making a screaming ass out of yourself for weeks, thrashing between defending it and pushing your own muck. You should have just shrugged and stayed the hell away.

    In your quiet moments, you come across as trying to impress with bullshit, rather than devoting time and energy to productive scholarship. Seriously, Algis, how has this wanking been any help to scholarship? You could have had a thesis written by now, or developed some good experiments. All you have done is make an enduring mockery of any water-based hypotheses, now and forever.

    I have learned a lot in the past few weeks, but not from you, Algis.

    If you write one more whinge, I’m posting my evaluation of your psychological problems. Stick to the science, instead of going all Algis, all the time.

    “Scholarly”, my hairy ass.

  266. robnyny says

    Are there other aquatic mammals that have evolved bipedalism? Any other examples of aquatic quadruped mammals that have evolved hairlessness.?

    Subcutaneous not blubber. All whales have blubber. Many human beings have little subcutaneous fat. Even seals have dense fur.

  267. says

    As an aside, throughout the thread I’ve been reading it as “waterslide hypothesis” at first glance, and it gives me a grin every time.

    (Although, maybe there’s something to it — we actually evolved the ability to lie prone, so that we could fit down the tubes! Bipedalism is merely a side effect!)

  268. anthrosciguy says

    Admitting ignorance about manatee “slow” metabolism, you mean.

    No, you’re trying to rewrite your personal history again; always a bad move for you when in the company of people with memories that stretch back as far as yesterday. You admitted ignorance, complete and total ignorance, of the entire concept of slow metabolism.

    Thanks, but could you point me to one where “slow metabolism” is specifically explained in detail. Never heard of it.

    Mind you, since the slow metabolism of manatees was presented in the previous comment thread, your ignorance of that is an indication that PZ was correct in his assessment.

  269. says

    No, Mr Kuliukas. You have said that the best evidence for an aquatic stage of some sort is simply that humans are better swimmers than chimps. That isn’t a logical argument. It’s the same as “Humans are better at going into space than chimps…therefore Space Ape.”

    And most importantly, this is not a reply to the logical and scientific failures of your claim:

    No, I meant generally, PZ? For some kook, idiot, loon I think I’ve more than held my own against the typically vociferous band of about 25 nay sayers that seem to have been attracted here.
    I think any impartial observer will see that I have been as scholarly, as knowledgable about evolutionary issues and rather fairer than most of the people here, especially your old Mr Twister, who I note has again turned up to provide lots of his special lines of gosssip.

    You have not held your own, nor have you been particularly “scholarly”. You have asserted your one-liner defense, “Humans swim and dive better than chimps”, and have not followed up to support it, in any rational way. You’re instead just thumping your chest and declaring that you’ve won.

  270. says

    We don’t lack blubber. Or, at least human subcutanous fat…

    Seriously?

    Question for the crowd: Is there any mammal that doesn’t have some degree of subcutaneous fat?

    If not, what does the presence of subcutaneous fat prove, vis-a-vis past selection pressures and habitats?

  271. timanthony says

    Chas, PZ et al: I was trying to make an funny about how even the most famously cerebral type might enjoy a Guinness beer as enthusiastically as anyone. Sorry it fell so flat

    Anyone who visits here regularly knows that PZ updates this blog more than once a day, most days. Even when he’s “busy”, which I believe is all day, every day, all year. A couple of days of silence was worth commenting on, in my highly misguided opinion! I guess my “dry” sense of humor doesn’t fit well with observations on beer, or conferences, or something.

    Since I’m now reassured by PZ personally that he doesn’t like to drink to excess, also a dry, humorless comment, I must have been way, way off the mark. Though to be honest, it still seems Ok to me, I just re-read it to make sure.

  272. anthrosciguy says

    I think we really should use a rigorous definition when we talk about one animal or another being semiaquatic in this context, and neither Japanese macaques or any other primate qualify.

    However, water use by various macaques as well as proboscis monkeys does not, as you point out, make them either bipedal or lessened their hair. (Although Elaine Morgan has inaccurately claimed that proboscis monkeys go bipedal more than other primates and that they typically do so as “merely an alternative locomotor mode of getting from A to B.”. Her basis for ignoring primatologists’ years of observation is a few seconds of film shot by a Japanese TV crew.)

  273. algiskuliukas says

    re 275, 281

    The argument was for half an hour’s swimming (not wading) per week (rather than zero) having an affect on our ancestors’ phenotype. Crazy, right? I mean, it’s ludicrous to imagine that that would result in a differential in selection, or that the variation in populations would, over several million years, be selected in any way to reflect the slightest adaptation.

    That a slight selection could also have affected earlier hominins to make them more likely to move bipedally is not an issue but please try to understand that I am not trying to argue that wading helped swimming or swimming helped wading. The evolution of bipedalism and almost all the other human traits are known to have happen seperately.(Mosaic evolution, right?) My model refelcts that: River Apes (wading bipedalism) … Coastal People (pretty much everything else).

    Amphiox (281) has been reminded of this several times but seems determined to keep misrepresenting the idea.

    Our anatomy clearly speaks of efficient, terrestrial striding bipedalism. I am 100% on board with that and the Rodman & McHenry energy efficiency ideas. But what people rarely seem to understand is that for this striding efficiency to be possible, the lower limbs need to be fully extended in order for our inverted pendulum gait to work properly. Treadmills, carpets, manicured lawns and pavements aside, where do you find such places in the natural world?

    Where is it most likely to be flat, firm and vegetation-free? Why, on dried out river bes/lake shores and at the coast, right down by the water’s edge.

    Algis Kuliukas

  274. Robert Harvey says

    We’re dealing here with someone who says that 30 minutes a week of swimming (see #53) constitutes “aquatic.” The bar is set low.

  275. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The argument was for half an hour’s swimming (not wading) per week (rather than zero) having an affect on our ancestors’ phenotype. Crazy, right? I mean, it’s ludicrous to imagine that that would result in a differential in selection, or that the variation in populations would, over several million years, be selected in any way to reflect the slightest adaptation

    Yep, it is ludicrous to imagine. Why do you keep imagining it though?

    The evolution of bipedalism and almost all the other human traits are known to have happen seperately.

    Yep, and they happened without any need or water. Why do you keep insisting otherwise?

    My model refelcts that: River Apes (

    And where the fuck are these river apes, other than in the guts of crocodiles and the under the feet of angry hippopotami?

    Where is it most likely to be flat, firm and vegetation-free? Why, on dried out river bes/lake shores and at the coast, right down by the water’s edge.

    And where do we find such alleged things. that aren’t dangerous with predators, sharp objects like coral, and water that drowns unwary apes???

  276. anthrosciguy says

    You’re instead just thumping your chest and declaring that you’ve won.

    Isn’t that how Darwin did it? http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/c550e56ad4/dana-carvey-s-darwin

    Question for the crowd: Is there any mammal that doesn’t have some degree of subcutaneous fat?

    If not, what does the presence of subcutaneous fat prove, vis-a-vis past selection pressures and habitats?

    It means you’re fat.

    Now fat is one of those things we want, until we get so much we don’t want it. In general, the brake on how fat an animal gets is how much it can stand to have mobility impaired. Predation. That’s why we see species which live in both predator-rich environs and relatively predator-free environs get fatter in the predator-free environs. Note that humans, for quite some time now (say a half million to a million years at least) have been able to create their own relatively predator-free environment via the use of advanced weaponry and fire. Portable too and applicable most anywhere. We can afford to get fatter than many other animals.

    But we don’t all. Many of our measures of fattiness are on people living in what we like to pretend is civilization and when we look at some outside that we often see less fattiness. But overall humans tend toward the fatter of wild primates (if you can describe any humans as “wild”, which you really can’t).

  277. says

    The argument was for half an hour’s swimming (not wading) per week (rather than zero) having an affect on our ancestors’ phenotype. Crazy, right?

    I don’t know. Why don’t you explain exactly what you think this is supposed to have done and when. At what point did our ancestors start swimming and what adaptations followed as a result?

  278. Ogvorbis says

    The argument was for half an hour’s swimming (not wading) per week (rather than zero) having an affect on our ancestors’ phenotype. Crazy, right?

    I have no way of knowing if it is crazy or not. Please explain, with evidence, why a half hour’s swimming per week will differentially select for x, y and z. Please explain, with evidence, why we should ignore the fossils that support the current paradigm of adaptation and evolution. Please?

  279. Amphiox says

    The argument was for half an hour’s swimming (not wading) per week (rather than zero) having an affect on our ancestors’ phenotype. Crazy, right?

    Note again the dishonest goal-post moving. Before it was quite specifically our bipedal gait. Then, after it was pointed out to him that bipedalism predates the LCA of humans and chimpanzees, it became the “profound” differences between humans and chimpanzees without any attempt to define what those were. Now it is even more nonspecific. Now it is any “affect on our ancestors’ phenotype”.

    Sure, a small bit of water exposure could have some affect on some part of our ancestor’s phenotype*, IF it happened. But did it happen? What is the evidence that suggests that it did?

  280. Ichthyic says

    That isn’t a logical argument. It’s the same as “Humans are better at going into space than chimps…therefore Space Ape.

    I do recall saying near the beginning of the first thread on this…

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    that’s what the AH “hypothesis” (which it isn’t even that, so let’s call it concept instead) boils down to, and nothing else.

    It’s a lot like how creationists work ideas, and the same way antivaxxers conclude thimerosol caused autism.

    It’s a sign of a brain that works differently, and I’m sure would be great under different circumstances, but it makes for a rather poor scientist.

  281. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    280. Kagato: That’s why macaques are obligate bipeds, have less fur, broad feet, and downward-pointing noses for diving, isn’t it? Hmm…


    Crab macaques are too small to evolve furlessness. And their semiaquatic time frame may be shorter than the one for Homo (up to 7mya).

    286. robnyny: Are there other aquatic mammals that have evolved bipedalism? Any other examples of aquatic quadruped mammals that have evolved hairlessness?
    (…) Even seals have dense fur.


    Oreopithecus has been suggested, the “swamp ape” 9-7mya. Vertical bipedalism in shallow water seems to be a specific trend for simians.
    A furless aquatic quadruped would be hippos. And elephants, rhinos, tapirs and some suids, suggested as past or present semiaquatics.
    And seals having fur is because they live in colder climates. I’m constantly repeating myself here.

    283. Amphiox: So if Algis is looking for an explanation for the origin of bipedalism he must look far earlier than the split between humans and chimpanzees. And if Algis is looking for an explanation for the difference in gait preferences between chimpanzees and humans, then wading does not explain anything at all.


    This is where Verhaegen is addressing possible semiaquaticism in apes before the split of the LCA, in a range of Miocene apes living in a then tropical region around the Tethys Sea and the Mediterranean. It’s a warmer fase in Earth history some 20-7mya, where Dryopithecus-like forms migrated out of Africa to live across Southern Eurasia, and when the climate cooled again, the ancestors of Pongo migrated into SE Asia, and the ancestors of Gorilla, Pan and Homo migrated back into Africa. This would lend that also Pan and Gorilla (because it’s the same ancestors as Homo) has had an aquatic U-turn, but just much earlier and perhaps less profound.

    And that’s a whole new level of panic. I don’t know what to make of that, to be quite honest. Right now, that’s sprinting out of Plato’s cave, and I don’t want to bang my head on the ceiling on the way out (there’s a pretty narrow opening on that damn cave).
    -

  282. anthrosciguy says

    The AAT has always had a strong element of vagueness, but Hardy, in starting it, was less vague (wildly wrong about his specifics, but less vague); Morgan was more vague but less than her followers. The idea has gotten more and more vague as it has gotten older. This is a natural outcome, I think, of what I call its ZING!ability, the need to ZING! its purported creatures, its environs, its arguments in general, where they need to go to dodge the critic at hand.

  283. Lofty says

    The most rational place for “savannah man” to practice his striding skills is of course on grazing animal trails. Protohumans weren’t alone out there you know. Following game trails through thick scrub to sites of cropped grass is the easiest thing in the world for a bipedal protohuman ape to do. And following game around means you’re following one of your food sources around. Seasonal roots and fruits are also best found by walking around too. Who’d want to risk murky shallows to get food?

  284. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oreopithecus has been suggested, the “swamp ape” 9-7mya. Vertical bipedalism in shallow water seems to be a specific trend for simians.

    Suggestions aren’t worthy of being mentioned. Why should we take that seriously, if you obviously don’t, since you didn’t lead with it?

    And seals having fur is because they live in colder climates. I’m constantly repeating myself here.

    And are you repeating yourself because you can show us your are right, or simply making inane assertions to pretend you know what you are talking about?

    has had an aquatic U-turn, but just much earlier and perhaps less profound.

    And likely non-existent. Why do you have to force-fit water where it obviously doesn’t have any need to be?

  285. Amphiox says

    Where is it most likely to be flat, firm and vegetation-free? Why, on dried out river bes/lake shores and at the coast, right down by the water’s edge.

    The use of dried out (DRIED out) river beds as convenient highways for long distance travel during the dry seasons is a standard part of the established eurytopic (aka “savannah”) hypotheses. Crucially, such activity does not require any submersion in water whatsoever, only seasonal migration to be present in the areas of pertinence when the water levels are low.

    So what makes Algis’ idea any different from the already accepted mainstream ideas to warrant giving it any special attention?

    And as for the RIDICULOUS assertion that only such environments allow for the “lower limbs to be fully extended”, this has already been addressed in the prior thread ad nauseum. It’s as if Algis has NEVER ACTUALLY WALKED ON A GRASSLAND, or bothered to observe the many humans still alive today who walk perfectly fine on savannah and grassland habitats, with FULL EXTENSION of the lower limbs, or the millions (billions?) of human beings who walked with no difficulty on a wide variety of terrain with FULL EXTENSION of the lower limbs before paved roads were invented or became common in their area of the world.

  286. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Algis:

    Where is it most likely to be flat, firm and vegetation-free?

    On the savannah! On Elaine Morgan’s strawman savanna—hot, dry, dessicated and deserted savannah that borders the Sahara. That’s flat, that’s firm, and that certainly doesn’t have any vegetation.

    It’s like a fucking unending beach, stretching out for miles in EVERY direction, not some piddly-ass straight line interrupted by river mouths and headlands. It’s the beach from Hell, with damned things wandering endlessly, striding out and out forever to find the few bits of food, the occasional waterhole. Walking to exist. Walking.

    That’s where walking would have HAD to develop, not some snug little beach with wading and swimming and food every-fucking-where. Beaches are where we go to sit, deserts are where we walk or die.

    Elaine Morgan’s straw-savannah is where walking would HAVE to develop to survive. The real savannah, with trees and food and water and shade, is where walking did develop.

    Good gravy, Algis. Do you not think? Ever?

    Tell you what, laddie. There’s a beach not far from you. Go there. Do not take your computer. Sit. Just sit.

  287. Amphiox says

    Here is an example of the kind of terrain that is commonly found on savannahs:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primarylanguages/french/our_world/photos/savannah/

    Does anyone really think that human ancestors would have any trouble whatsoever “fully extending” their lower limbs while striding on such a terrain?

    Here is another:

    http://www.123rf.com/photo_13936498_giraffes-herd-in-the-african-savannah.html

    Here is another:

    http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2009/02/19/2990_travel-stories.html

    There are two modern bipedal apes in this picture. Does it look like that even the longish grass in this picture would have impeded them from “fully extending” their lower limbs? Or does Algis think that they could not have walked, bipedally, with lower limbs fully extended, into the picture, and were instead carried? Crawled? Teleported?

    What is Algis smoking?

  288. Amphiox says

    Treadmills, carpets, manicured lawns and pavements aside, where do you find such places in the natural world?

    I’m sure that all the modern humans who lived for the hundred odd thousand years before the invention of treadmills, carpets, manicured lawns and pavements would be surprised to learn that it was impossible for them to walk with lower limbs fully extended except in dried up river beds.

    I’m sure all the modern hunter-gatherers still alive today would be very surprised to learn that Algis has proven that, since they don’t have treadmills, carpets, manicured lawns and pavements, they aren’t walking with their lower limbs fully extended except when they are walking on dried river and lakebeds.

    The assertion is so reminiscent of the old racist archeology assertions that say Black Africans could never have built Greater Zimbabwe as to be quite disturbing, really.

  289. anthrosciguy says

    I’m constantly repeating myself here.

    Yes, you are, and that’s why you are continually wrong and are engaging in pseudoscience. Because you get corrected on statements like this yet you simply repeat them.

    This is a key problem for the AAT in general; it is one of the primary reasons it is viewed as pseudoscience.

  290. A. Noyd says

    Amphiox (#306)

    It’s as if Algis has NEVER ACTUALLY WALKED ON A GRASSLAND, or bothered to observe the many humans still alive today who walk perfectly fine on savannah and grassland habitats, with FULL EXTENSION of the lower limbs

    Speaking from experience, savannah is way easier to walk around on than beaches are, and that goes for pretty much any kind of beach imaginable.

  291. Amphiox says

    The most rational place for “savannah man” to practice his striding skills is of course on grazing animal trails. Protohumans weren’t alone out there you know.

    A troupe of savannah apes, if they stayed at a particular home site for any extended period of time, would have little difficulty in stamping out their own trails, with their own footsteps, within their territory.

    There are even some types of mice that do this, stamping out convenient running paths and trails around their home territory. It is not a behavioral adaption that should be beyond early human ancestors.

  292. anthrosciguy says

    And as for the RIDICULOUS assertion that only such environments allow for the “lower limbs to be fully extended”, this has already been addressed in the prior thread ad nauseum. It’s as if Algis has NEVER ACTUALLY WALKED ON A GRASSLAND, or bothered to observe the many humans still alive today who walk perfectly fine on savannah and grassland habitats, with FULL EXTENSION of the lower limbs, or the millions (billions?) of human beings who walked with no difficulty on a wide variety of terrain with FULL EXTENSION of the lower limbs before paved roads were invented or became common in their area of the world.

    I’ve had to point out to Algis before that “One of the places where “maximally efficient human bipedalism” “simply does not work” is an aquatic environment, whether shallow or deep.” In fact he has himself measured this, in an informal experiment he mentioned walking through brush (not even along a trail) and in his Homo paper.

    “I have myself done experiments with douglas bags which show that even walking through long grass adds about 20% to the cost of walking as compared to that on concrete.” – Algis Kuliukas

    and in water he found:

    “We also found that it was about 73% more costly to move with an FU gait in water than on land”.

    Algis often makes statements based on relative efficiency, but even his own experiments show that this is a far bigger problem in water than walking through brush. And that’s on a smooth bottomed pool; no slippery mud, no shifting sand, no underwater vegetation, no visibility problems preventing you from seeing the shifting, slippery, uneven bottom and the snags therein.

  293. Ogvorbis says

    no slippery mud, no shifting sand, no underwater vegetation, no visibility problems preventing you from seeing the shifting, slippery, uneven bottom and the snags therein.

    I can second that with a personal anecdote.

    I worked for five years as a white water raft guide. I have tried to hurry through knee-deep water, flowing water, water going over rocks, water flowing over rocks covered with moss and algae. And I was wearing leather sneakers to protect my ankles. And I still ended every single season with open sores on my feet from unhealed cuts, bone bruises, and I still have scars on my shins from suddenly finding a rock that’s only six inches below the surface rather than the knee-deep water I was in.

    So, Algis, since you won’t (or can’t) answer my other questions, perhaps you can tell me how our aquatic wading/swimming/walking along dry river beds/or whatever your continuously changing assertion dealt with open sores, bone bruises, shin barks, and all the other injuries that I got WITH SHOES! while wading and swimming in muddy river water (well, not always muddy, but it sure wasn’t nice and clear) without antibiotics, talcum powder, foot powder, leather sneakers, and nice clean showers every day?

  294. Ogvorbis says

    Damn.

    Please insert the word ‘ancestor’ in the appropriate place in my 3.14

  295. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    I lived on a beach once. The firm area that Algis babbles of was narrow, transitory and sloped toward the water. The rest of the beach was soft and uneven.

    Look at the little guy in the photo up top. If you had a foot with a toe/thumb sticking out to the side, would walking on wide-open firm sand be a problem? Would walking on a narrow game trail be a problem? Would walking on soft sand be easier? Would an orangutan be a better beach ape?

  296. algiskuliukas says

    Re 295

    Yes, very low. And yet hysterical aquaskeptics still find the concept so disgusting they rant and rave as if someone were proposing that humans were really placed here by aliens from space!

    Algis Kuliukas

  297. Lofty says

    A troupe of savannah apes, if they stayed at a particular home site for any extended period of time, would have little difficulty in stamping out their own trails, with their own footsteps, within their territory.

    Indeed, But one of the features of savannahs is seasonality, and migrating around after your food sources would exert a competitive advantage over stay-at-home apes. Herbivore herds used to cross continents to stay fed until very recently, only stopped by human interference.

  298. Lofty says

    Yes, very low. And yet hysterical aquaskeptics still find the concept so disgusting they rant and rave as if someone were proposing that humans were really placed here by aliens from space!
    Fuck you’re an idiot. Address the arguments not your juvenile fantasy.

  299. says

    Algis, if somebody makes a comment you think is less than relevant, then ignore it. Spend your time addressing points you think are important. This thread is on a timer, after all.

    If you don’t focus, then it starts to look like you don’t have any real arguments to make and you’re just trying to run down the clock, so you can claim it was all PZ’s fault for not giving you the time to explain yourself.

    Well, you have been given the time. How you use it is up to you.
    E.g. I have outstanding points at 204 and 298 that you’re welcome to address.

    Finally, you might want to dial back the persecution complex. It’s not doing you any favors. Frankly, it makes you sound like a loon.

  300. Amphiox says

    Indeed, But one of the features of savannahs is seasonality, and migrating around after your food sources would exert a competitive advantage over stay-at-home apes. Herbivore herds used to cross continents to stay fed until very recently, only stopped by human interference.

    No reason why both effects could not be at play. The evidence suggests our ancestors were eurytopic with variability in habits between populations. Some populations may have followed migrating herds, others could have been more sedentary, if they found themselves in a territory that supported it.

    An alternate strategy to following your food sources as they migrated is to vary your food sources seasonally. You exploit the animals that migrate through your territory during the times when they are there, and when they are not there, you use other sources.

  301. John Phillips, FCD says

    Algis, it might help if you gave us more than just repeated conjecture and assertions. You know, some actual evidence. I’ve yet to see anything concrete and I’m not in any way a biologist so I have no skin in the game, one way or another. But I can read and assess papers and you have yet to offer anything of value.

    BTW, the only one getting hysterical on here appears to be you, though others are understandably getting frustrated with your shambolic performance.

  302. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Algis, it might help if you gave us more than just repeated conjecture and assertions.

    Or, failing that, gave us more “repeated conjecture and assertions” about the ostensible subject of debate, your Incredible Shrinking Aquatic Habitation Claim, than about what closed-minded meanypants poopyheads the people who aren’t convinced are. I’ve been catching up in blocks and the masturbatory nature of most of your comments is quite striking.

  303. lochaber says

    So, as to the walking on shorelines and such, have you actually tried that? most are either muddy, rocky, or sandy. about the only good ones for walking on are dried mud or damp sand.

    And neither of those environs (sandy beach, dried mudflats) are likely to be rich in food.

    Muddy and rocky shorelines, sure, but that’s pretty treacherous footing, and bipedalism doesn’t make much sense – going on all 4s would be more stable, and give more surface area to avoid sinking in as well.

    Grasslands (or even woodlands, for that matter) tend to be riddled with game trails, and they usually go someplace useful. Even if we weren’t forging our own trails, I’m pretty sure we would have made use of the preexisting ones.

  304. Entropy101 says

    And than the diving.
    I do some freediving as a hobby. When I go diving for a few weeks I can eat what I want and I still loose weight. This is in tropical waters in Egypt, so water temperatures of 27 and higher in summer. And I use a good wetsuit, fins, mask, goggles and weight system. At the end I’m permanently tired and cold and have a high risk of ear infections and colds. When you have an ear infection or a head cold, you can not dive, period. Putting your head down for even a meter hurts like hell and with the proper modern drugs, it still takes at least four days before you can equalize again. Without equalization, no diving, or permanent ear damage, like ruptured ear drums.
    What you do not see are freedivers how dive a lot and are fat. Besides, in humans, fat is counterproductive to freediving, especially if you dive shallow and without weights. In that case you have to work hard to stay down, even more if you dive without fins. That stroke looks nice, but it uses quite a bit of energy and needs two arms and two legs to get you somewhere. So what do we use to gather food, how do we collect it and how do we take it with us to the shore. And what do we hunt that can not be gathered on a reef table for which I do not have to dive and can clearly see before my feet?

  305. Robert Harvey says

    Crab macaques are too small to evolve furlessness.

    What? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Hairless_Dog

    And seals having fur is because they live in colder climates. I’m constantly repeating myself here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_sea_lion

    It lives in those arctic ranges from California to Mexico. I’m shivering just thinking about the arctic cold of Baja California. Yes, you’re constantly repeating yourself. That part I agree with.

  306. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    I notice, after coming back to this thread after a night’s sleep, that Algis still hasn’t responded to any of the refutations of his assertions about floating babies, nor has he provided any evidence to support his assertion – his ‘most important’ one – that humans swim better than chimpanzees do.

    I agree that it is trivially easy to find examples of humans swimming, compared to chimpanzees; but I suggest that may have something to do with the fact that there are more than seven thousand million humans compared to around one quarter of a million chimpanzees and that we do have specially-created safe spaces for humans to swim in that chimpanzees don’t have.

    A very simple, ethically unproblematical, experiment has already been suggested to find out whether humans are actually better swimmers than chimpanzees, rather than merely more frequent swimmers (and it doesn’t involve torturing, or risking the lives of, infants and mothers of either species) – computer modelling.

    Computer modelling has already revolutionised things like car and aeroplane design (and I’ve noticed that, just like other scientific ideas, designs are converging as more information is gathered; rather than, like religious ideas, splitting into myriad incompatible ones). Computer modelling has resulted in life-like CGI of extinct lifeforms.

    Algis obviously has access to a computer; the software is available; and, if he has time to cry persecution here, he has time to model the different modes of locomotion of chimpanzees and humans and their adaptation to swimming.

    But, I must in all honesty admit that whether modern humans or modern chimpanzees turn out to be the current better swimmers, that will have little, if any, bearing on whether our ancestors spent enough time in the water to account for our current ‘profound’ differences without fossil evidence.

    As for CHE’s continued clinging to the ‘seafood diet’ idea after it has been roundly refuted several times; it is as embarrassing as AK’s tantrums every time Anthrosciguy comments.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thank you to everyone posting science in this thread! I have learned an enormous amount of fascinating facts, and also learned how to test whether an idea is intellectually satisfying because it has evidence or just feels good because I thought of it, but is actually fictional.

    I have learned that if I want other people to accept an idea, laying out the evidence, and seeing whether they come to the same conclusion about it, is the sensible way to behave.

    Just telling other people what my idea is, failing to support it with any evidence, ignoring all contrary evidence, shouting at other people that they are being unfair, and then insisting that they find the evidence to support my idea will, rightly, get everyone else annoyed.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Re-reading the last two paragraphs, I was suddenly struck by a thought – I have frequently seen parents and educators use the first strategy, whereas the second is quite common in toddlers.

  307. algiskuliukas says

    Re 298 LykeX

    Why don’t you explain exactly what you think this is supposed to have done and when. At what point did our ancestors start swimming and what adaptations followed as a result?

    Well “exactly” is asking a bit much, don’t you think?

    “What” – it is supposed to have done is made us human-like.
    “When” – as with the mainstream, when modern humans are thought to have appeared on the scene, ca 250Ka.

    I think the genus Homo started swimming by rift valley lakes and Indian ocean coasts ca 2.6Ma. The results that followed (or started to evolve) are those that we see today as humans… oligate, efficient long-distance walker (on ideal substrates) with a bit of swimming and diving on top.

    Crazy, isn’t it?

    Algis Kuliukas

    Algis Kuliukas

  308. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think the genus Homo started swimming by rift valley lakes and Indian ocean coasts ca 2.6Ma. The results that followed (or started to evolve) are those that we see today as humans… oligate, efficient long-distance walker (on ideal substrates) with a bit of swimming and diving on top.

    Crazy, isn’t it?

    Yep, your idea is crazy. Nothing but presuppositional thinking. You decided what happened, and try to invent evidence to fit. That’s pseudoscience.

  309. algiskuliukas says

    Re 299 Orgvorbis

    Please explain, with evidence, why a half hour’s swimming per week will differentially select for x, y and z.

    Because if population (a) go swimming half an hour a week (on average) for 2.5 million years or more and population (b) do not, many more of population (a) will drown than population (b).

    It is evolution 101 to understand that in such scenarios, any trait which makes it less likely to drown will be selected for more in (a) than (b). This is ignoring the positive effects – that any traits helping (a) get more food and/or increase fitness – will also get selected for.

    Evidence? Read some population genetics. Download PopG.exe (link above).

    Please explain, with evidence, why we should ignore the fossils that support the current paradigm of adaptation and evolution. Please?

    I am not ignoring any fossils and I am not suggesting anyone do so. The problem is the “current paradigm” seem to have an irrational fear and hostility of any idea that involves human ancestors getting their toes wet, so each and every interpretation of each and every fossil precludes the possibility of a little wading, swimming and diving, when it shouldn’t.

    Wading helps, a little swimming helps, a little diving helps.

    Algis Kuliukas

  310. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Algis: “I think”?

    Why do you think that?

    What evidence do you have that has led to you thinking that?

    How does your evidence contradict the evidence that leads nearly every other person who studies human evolution to attribute those results (obligate, efficient long-distance walker) to long-distance walking?

    And what do you regard as ‘ideal substrates’ for walking on (and why use the word ‘substrate’? Which meaning are you using here?)

    It has already been pointed out that beaches and underwater streambeds/riverbeds (even if temporarily dried up) are really difficult surfaces for an obligate biped with feet like ours to walk on, whereas game trails are easy.

  311. algiskuliukas says

    Re 300 Amphiox

    Note again the dishonest goal-post moving

    Amphiox please stop misrepresenting my argument. How many time do you think I’ll have to repeat my River Apes… Coastal People model before you’ll actually decide to undertand it?

    Wading-climbing early -> Early Facultative Bipedalism
    Swimming-diving-beach combing -> Obligate striding bipedalism and the other modern human traits.

    Sure, a small bit of water exposure could have some affect on some part of our ancestor’s phenotype*, IF it happened. But did it happen? What is the evidence that suggests that it did?

    The evidence that suggests it did are:

    1) We DO swim and dive better than chimps.
    2) We have a whole host of traits consistent with some selection for it and none that contradict it.
    3) A thousands-one ratio in fossil evidence placing our ancestors by waterside habitats compared to chimps’.

    Algis Kuliukas

  312. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The problem is the “current paradigm” seem to have an irrational fear and hostility of any idea that involves human ancestors getting their toes wet, so each and every interpretation of each and every fossil precludes the possibility of a little wading, swimming and diving, when it shouldn’t.

    Wading helps, a little swimming helps, a little diving helps.

    How does it help? With what? You haven’t shown how. You haven’t shown what. You just keep repeating the claims that it helps like a mantra. Yet you cannot point to one piece of the genome that was effected, unlike rock throwing, which is explained by the savannah, which had a shoulder adaptation. Which allowed hominids to stand back from their prey and take it down without having to wrestle with it.

  313. algiskuliukas says

    Re 301 Ichthyic

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc

    And no mainstream idea ever did that, right?
    Most do.
    What about the latest “we’re good at throwing baseballs, so…”?

    It’s a lot like how creationists work ideas

    Sod off! Creationists, you may have noticed, do not invoke the principles of natural selection more than the mainstream do.

    But it is noted that yet another aquaskeptic proudly admits being unable to disciminate between the plausibility of the modest, evidence-based, entirely Darwinist idea that some differential in selection between humans and chimps from wading, swimming and diving was repsonsible for most of our physical differences – and the idea that the entire universe was created in six day… just for us!

    And PZ Myers thinks I’m the loon/kook/idiot!!!

    Algis Kuliukas

  314. algiskuliukas says

    Re 303 anthrosciguy

    The idea has gotten more and more vague as it has gotten older

    Jim, you know this is not true. The first published definition of these ideas was in our 2011 eBook.

    Why can’t you report even one thing about this idea honestly, ever?

    Algis Kuliukas

  315. algiskuliukas says

    Re 322 Amphiox

    So what makes Algis’ idea any different from the already accepted mainstream ideas to warrant giving it any special attention?

    Funny. The idea is both too similar to mainstream ideas and too different at the same time. I really must learn the ultimate parsimony that these guys all follow: Hardy must be wrong, all else follows.

    It’s as if Algis has NEVER ACTUALLY WALKED ON A GRASSLAND…

    Wrong again. Not only have a walked on it, but I’ve measured my oxygen consumption too.

    Look, perfectly worn tracks left by herds, I agree are also flat, firm and vegetetation free. I also agree that many waterside habitats make very poor substrates – e.g. marshes, rocky coast lines, dry sandy beaches. Again it’s not black and white, but generally speaking, dried out river beds and walking along coastal flats are rather ideal places for our bipedalism to evolve.

    Somehow, traipsing along the dry open savannah after a herd of bovids wouldn’t seem a great option to me. Call me crazy, but I’d rather walk along a sandy beach as the waves lap against my toes.

    Algis Kuliukas

  316. algiskuliukas says

    Re 204 LykeX

    So, what adaptations are you saying came from this? If we already have fully formed, modern humans, then what exactly are the changes that bring improved swimming ability?

    The ones that distiguish us from chimps.

    Nakedness/Body hair pattern. Infant/Mother adiposity. Improved voluntary breath control. Descended larynx. Hood-like nose.

    Algis Kuliukas

  317. says

    Human beings spent an awfully large chunk of their evolutionary history traipsing along after herds of bovids for a living, and some still do. I guess we should tell them that Algis Kuliukas thinks taking walks along sandy beaches would be a more productive use of their time.

    As for “the modest, evidence-based, entirely Darwinist idea that some differential in selection between humans and chimps from wading, swimming and diving was repsonsible for most of our physical differences” … I’m not seeing any of that “evidence” stuff from you, nor am I seeing you try to propose and defend a coherent argument. (“Humans swim better than chimps” is not an argument for a specific evolutionary pattern, and the fact that you still seem to think it is is what links you to creationist thought — that appalling lack of cogency and recognition of the limitations of a poor premise.)

  318. says

    Nakedness/Body hair pattern. Infant/Mother adiposity. Improved voluntary breath control. Descended larynx. Hood-like nose.

    Christ, there you go again, haring off after a swarm of ill-formed assertions. STOP THAT. Focus. FOCUS. You have not satisfactorily addressed the rebuttals to your “humans swim better than chimps” claim, yet you blithely fling out another volley of bad claims.

    What kind of flibbertigibbet “scholar” are you?

  319. Lofty says

    Somehow, traipsing along the dry open savannah after a herd of bovids wouldn’t seem a great option to me. Call me crazy, but I’d rather walk along a sandy beach as the waves lap against my toes.

    Yes, but you can stop at a nearby cafe for sustenance.

  320. algiskuliukas says

    Re 308 Amphiox

    Does anyone really think that human ancestors would have any trouble whatsoever “fully extending” their lower limbs while striding on such a terrain?

    Well, let’s not exaggerate here. No-one said they’d have “trouble”. The point is how energy efficient is it?

    Unless the substrate is perfectly flat, firm and vegetation-free you can’t do a fully extended stride. If there is significant scrub, or an uneven surface – as shown beautifully in your cherry picked image No 1 – then you have to walk with a somewhat compliant gait which compromises the efficiency.

    Even walking in long grass (e.g. your 3rd image) would reduce this efficiency significantly.

    I grant you image No 2 looks pretty good, but I doubt even that’s better than my cherry picked image.

    Algis Kuliukas

  321. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    How many time do you think I’ll have to repeat my River Apes… Coastal People model before you’ll actually decide to undertand it?

    We understand it, for the vague what-if story you have fabricated. But it doesn’t mean anything other than your wishes.

  322. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nakedness/Body hair pattern. Infant/Mother adiposity. Improved voluntary breath control. Descended larynx. Hood-like nose.

    And all this is explained by the savannah theory better and more parsimoniously.

  323. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    AK:

    Again it’s not black and white, but generally speaking, dried out river beds and walking along coastal flats are rather ideal places for our bipedalism to evolve.

    What on Earth has that got to do with humans swimming better than chimpanzees do? Or that bipedalism evolved before the LCA of us and the other great apes?

    Dried out river beds

    Coastal Flats

    OK, I’ll give you Coastal Flats. Looks like a nice place for a stroll. Plenty of food, too. =^_^=

  324. algiskuliukas says

    Re 229 PZ Myers

    I see others have already ably dismantled your use of that formula for the likelihood of selection seeing a mutation above levels of chance drift.

    Really? Where was that? It’s basic population genetics.

    Can you name the allele you’re talking about? Or is it entirely imaginary?

    Obviously the point was a general one. Do you dispute that the body hair pattern in humans, as compared to chimps, is genetically controlled, to name but one example. How many alleles do you imagine are involved in those differences?

    Algis Kuliukas

  325. says

    @Algis:

    Ocean-side shores aren’t completely flat, either, you know. Yes, there are fewer bits of vegetation, but you’re replacing the rock with the shell. I don’t know the prevalence of razor clams in Africa, but you step on one of those suckers and you’ve just sliced up the entire bottom of your foot (I know, I’ve done it!) Without disinfectant or bandages, it’s basically game over for that person. Multiply that by the fact that water is not always clear (again, never been to Africa, it could be perfectly crystalline) and that there are crawlies and shells in the water that you can step on.

    Your statement about how you’d prefer walking the beach with waves lapping at your toes shows an aesthetic reason for beach-side living (I prefer mountains to beaches, but I digress.) It doesn’t really make sense for our proto-humans to live out there. Oysters and clams are tasty, but you need a whole lot of them. Most sea-side critters like crabs and lobsters are a huge waste of resources for little meat. Fish have more meat, but you need boats and nets and spears and poles to catch them, and the earliest evidence of boats is maybe 150,000 years old.

    It just doesn’t make sense for a group of primates trying to hunt and survive.

  326. Anri says

    Wrong again. Not only have a walked on it, but I’ve measured my oxygen consumption too.

    Look, perfectly worn tracks left by herds, I agree are also flat, firm and vegetetation free. I also agree that many waterside habitats make very poor substrates – e.g. marshes, rocky coast lines, dry sandy beaches. Again it’s not black and white, but generally speaking, dried out river beds and walking along coastal flats are rather ideal places for our bipedalism to evolve.

    Somehow, traipsing along the dry open savannah after a herd of bovids wouldn’t seem a great option to me. Call me crazy, but I’d rather walk along a sandy beach as the waves lap against my toes.

    Did you also measure your oxygen consumption while wading through water to the depth that caused hair loss on whatever body parts you think it caused hair loss on?

    And have you done the equivalent experiment for whatever hominid group you believe was effected by this change in behavior? If not, why does your oxygen consumption matter at all?
    I ask because I’m confused – you appear to be saying , simultaneously, that very early hominids became bipedal due to unprecedented increased interaction with water features, while also saying that mid-range hominids became less hairy than earlier versions due to unprecedented increased interaction with water features, and also that modern man developed various bodily features due to unprecedented increased interaction with water features.
    You do get that these claims are mutually exclusive, yes?

  327. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    o you dispute that the body hair pattern in humans, as compared to chimps, is genetically controlled, to name but one example. How many alleles do you imagine are involved in those differences?

    What we dispute is that your water had anything to with the selection. You haven’t show it is. Just keep making vague hints that it does.

  328. Entropy101 says

    @Algis,

    Please name a food source and method of catching where diving is the most efficient method of collecting said food source.

  329. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Algis, how does you measuring your oxygen consumption have anything to do with early hominids, as their gait and oxygen consumption wouldn’t be the same as yours?

  330. algiskuliukas says

    Re 290 PZ Myers

    It’s the same as “Humans are better at going into space than chimps…therefore Space Ape.”

    What!?

    Hahahahahaha!!!

    Rubbish!

    It’s not the same at all. Here’s why… human ancestors could have gone swimming more than chimps’, human ancestors could NOT have gone into space more than chimps’.

    Blimey, PZ. I thought the space ape thing was supposed to be just a joke, but you actually cannot disciminate between the plausibility of these two ideas, can you?

    You have not held your own

    No, with you, I think I’ve run rings around you. I have followed it up against anyone who had anything to say against it – outnumbered here approx 20:1, I have supported it, in a very rational way.

    I’ve put a ridiculous amount of time into contributing to your blog but you cannot even show the slightest graciousness to withdraw your ignorant insults done before I’d posted anything significant.

    Your “arguments” have been worse than a dull eight year old’s: “kook”, “idiot”, “loon”, “wanker”. I’d be ashamed if I were you.

    I used to think you were some kind of US equivalent to Richard Dawkins. What a disappointment you are…

    Algis Kuliukas

  331. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    AK, reiterating what you have already had refuted isn’t ‘supporting it’.

    Showing evidence is how you support it.

    That is all anyone has been asking for. It is your failure to provide that evidence – even going so far as to suggest that other people should get it for you – that has everyone annoyed; that, and your consistent failure to engage with the facts.

    You have not run rings around PZ; you have been running in circles chasing your own tail.

  332. Lofty says

    Here’s a nice African beach for Algis to stroll along. I wonder how many km of suitable beach existed for the enjoyment of Algis’s soggy ape horde? Not many I’d guess. Countless thousands of square km of savannah though.

  333. algiskuliukas says

    Typical aquaskeptic post as per the evidence here …

    I once went on a shore and I had a really horrible time. Have you ever heard of CROCODILES? What has wading got to do with SWIMMING? I once had a baby and it SANK!! Stop being so personal and hostile. Stay FOCUSED and stop changing the subject all the time. Stop doing the one liners. Stop doing such big long posts. Stop doing any posts. I HATE fish! Hey, I made a point, three hundred posts ago – why haven’t you spend an hour or so answering that one too? What about cliffs, eh? What about THE CLIFFS!? Where’s the evidence that humans swim better than chimps anyway? I bet chimps are great swimmers, really. Stop lying all the time. Why do you always have to LIE!? You haven’t demonstrated ANYTHING. Before you are allowed to speculate (like us) you need to do THIS, THAT and THE OTHER. You should have spent the last 15 years doing more research. Why didn’t you lead a fossil finding expidition to Eritrea? Why didn’t you do the body hair drag reduction research? Why didn’t you do the baby floating research? How come you still haven’t found all the key allelic markers for these changes? Hey, you’re a computer guy – why haven’t you written a computer simulation program to accurately model a typical human and a typical chimp swimming in water so that we can objectively decide if we do swim better than they do?

    Oh, and nearly forgot one…

    And, oooh, did you hear what Algis said on 3rd June 2002? … it’s really damning, honest.

    This “response” would be funny if this wasn’t PZ Myers’ world reknowned Blog – where crazy ideas are always debunked – packed with a band of his most super-duper hard nosed skeptics.

    The aquaskeptic “response” has been an embarassing sham for 53 years but it I think it keeps getting worse. Elaine Morgan would chuckle at you.

    Algis Kuliukas

  334. Amphiox says

    There is little more pathetic than seeing someone, on being told they are losing, waste their time yelping “no I’m not! I’m actually winning!”

    Dried up riverbeds and lakebeds are already part of the milieu of environments that the standard eurytopic hypothesis includes, and are in fact a standard feature of savannahs, which have seasonal wet and dry periods.

    So again the only difference between what Algis proposes is that he insists this water-bed environment has preferential importance in the evolution obligate terrestrial bipedality in humans. It is simply not logical to suppose that any minority environment should be expected to promote a eurytopic creature which was already facultatively bipedal to switch to obligate bipedalism in its majority environment. The only thing that really makes sense for that is a selective pressure in the majority environment. Otherwise is it far more parsimonious and logical to assume that the creature will simply retain its ancestral habit and switch its locomotive pattern between environments.

    And how does modern humans’ swimming ability have anything at all do to with walking on a dried out streambed? Or has Algis conceded that he has no argument with the swimming and is moving on to a new argument?

    And how is this idea even testable? How does Algis distinguish his claim from the mainstream idea, which already accepts that ancient human ancestors may have walked on dried stream beds and the like when the opportunity arose, but merely does not insist that this was the major or only selective force promoting obligate bipedalism? Even if it is true that walking on a dried stream bed offers a greater efficiency advantage than walking anywhere else, which is doubtful in the extreme, if human ancestors only spent a minority of their time at the waterside, then the effect of the selection pressures from environments other than the streambed, even if smaller in magnitude, can easily add up to provide a greater total effect. How does Algis propose to rule out this alternative, experimentally?

    And I note that once again Algis has moved the goalposts. Earlier he was insisting that it had to be wading in waist-deep or deeper water, and only wading, that could imaginably promote bipedalism. Now he has walked things back so far that he’s completely removed the water from the equation.

  335. algiskuliukas says

    Re 355 Tigger

    Evidence

    Humans swim better than chimps.

    See above post for the overhelmning behavioural support for that.

    Evidence denying is what creationists do. Why do you guys keep doing it?

    Algis Kuliukas

  336. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Humans swim better than chimps.

    The Bible is right because it is the word of God.

  337. rowanvt says

    Because if population (a) go swimming half an hour a week (on average) for 2.5 million years or more and population (b) do not, many more of population (a) will drown than population (b).

    There is a super duper giant flaw in this line of ‘reasoning’. And that is that the population that drowned would likely not be significant enough to actually cause a selective factor.

    For example: Intact female canines have a pretty high risk of pyometra over their lifetime. Without surgical intervention these are invariably fatal. The female canines can get a pyometra at any age, but most get it when older (not an evolutionary trait, just a feature of what *causes* the pyo in the first place). Because most canines that get a pyo are around 7 years of age, they’ve already had many many litters of puppies. There is no selective pressure against pyometra.

    Or… Appendicitis in humans! About 1 in every 15 people get appendicitis, and the most common ages are 10 to 30 years of age. Prime breeding age! …. This still hasn’t selected against it happening quite often because over all it doesn’t make enough of an impact.

    So unless your percentage of drowning is so high that it would probably cause the early homonids to *avoid* the ocean-side completely, it’s not going to have selective pressure come into play because the numbers of the dead are just too small.

  338. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    No, with you, I think I’ve run rings around you.

    No, you haven’t. PZ’s claim was a parody of yours. You have demonstrated your claims are just as baseless as PZ’s.

  339. vaiyt says

    Humans swim better than chimps.

    How did that happen?

    Because of a soggy ape ancestor.

    How do you know that?

    Because humans swim better than chimps.

  340. vaiyt says

    Typical Algis Kuliukas post:

    “I’m going to repeat the counter-arguments of myself in a vaguely mocking tone – which unfortunately doesn’t come out well in typing – and call it parody! Humans swim better than chimps because humans swim better than chimps! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! SPACE APE! People calling me a kook means I win!”

    human ancestors could have gone swimming more than chimps’

    YOU GO THERE AND FIND SOME EVIDENCE THAT THEY DID. MAKE A PREDICTION AND GO AFTER A FOSSIL THAT ONLY FITS YOUR HYPOTHESIS. NO FOSSIL. NO TALK.

  341. rowanvt says

    I bet that we humans can do better hand-stands than chimps. This is why our arm structure has changed and the long legs are actually to act as a better counterbalance while walking on our hands. We evolved into humans by being upside down a lot. Like maybe 30 minutes a week.

  342. says

    Hate to do PZ’s job for him, but can we remember the rules of this post?

    I would like to see this post continue cause there’s so much I’ve been learning about human origins (that have nothing to do with waterside communities or relative mer-people.)

    @Algis:

    You discount arguments against your theory as being inadequate, and then mock people for makign them. Most of the people who’ve responded to this debate have responded to your posts with clear evidence that either contradicts your arguments, or makes a much more parsimonious reason.

    You consider “humans swim better than chimps” to be your best line of evidence, but as I stated, it’s not evidence. It’s not even a real observation because we have no evidence to the contrary. Chimps don’t swim because they’ve been socially taught to avoid the water as much as possible – predators and parasites. Take chimps away from that social atmosphere and maybe, just maybe they’ll be good swimmers.

    You’ve argued for hundreds of comments and years upon years about things that have already been explained to you numerous times. You are the Ray Comfort of the AAH.

  343. Amphiox says

    Humans swim better than chimps.

    It’s like Algis has just deliberately ignored everything anyone else has posted on this subject since the beginning of the thread.

    No, the above alone is not evidence that supports Algis’ hypothesis. It is an observation that is consistent with a wide range of hypotheses.

    Algis must provide evidence that differentiates his hypothesis with all those other alternatives. Or, at the very least, he has to propose what kind of evidence that someone could find that would, if found, differentiate his hypothesis from all those other alternatives that explains humans’ ability to swim just as well.

    Algis has not done so.

    Until he does so, he loses this argument. No, scratch that, until he does so, he has not even qualified to engage in an argument. You can’t even have a scientific argument without presentation of evidence that differentiates between alternative ideas.

  344. ChasCPeterson says

    CHE @#239: well done. I didn’t know about he capuchins–pretty cool.

    Liking to eat brains isn’t black and white, it’s a grey matter.

    bwa-ha

    human subcutanous fat, which is what helps keep us warm in lieu of fur

    oh, it does not.

    timanthony @#292: Sorry for snarling. Your comment smelled like slyme to me. False positive; my apology.

    CHE@#:

    I’m constantly repeating myself here.

    Yes, we’ve noticed. We’ve also noticed that your assertions are extraordinarily weak cappuccino. They tend to be couched in terms like “[have been] suggested as”, “[can be] construed as”, “[have been] argued to be” etc. And we know why you do this: so you can continue to ignore evidence to the contrary.
    It’s bullshit, we’ve noticed.

    I’m shivering just thinking about the arctic cold of Baja California.

    ffs. Ever swam in the Pacific Ocean off of Baja? dumbass.

    humans… oligate, efficient long-distance walker (on ideal substrates) with a bit of swimming and diving on top.
    Crazy, isn’t it?

    Not crazy so much as completely unnecessary. What borders on crazy is your weird, obsessive campaign.

    Not only have a walked on it, but I’ve measured my oxygen consumption too.

    So you compared walking in grass with walking on concrete by breathing into a Douglas bag yourself?
    What could go wrong?

    Please name a food source and method of catching where diving is the most efficient method of collecting said food source.

    mmm, abalone.

    AK@#357: Well, your little performance-art piece actually makes a decent point. The arguments from lots of your recent opponents here have been repetitive, poorly thought out, ignorant; even in some cases stupid. [vaiyt @#365, ffs man.]
    That does not change the fact that yours are pretty bad too.

    It’s high time for this thread to die forever [*checks comment count*]

  345. algiskuliukas says

    Ok, as we are getting close to PZ’s 500 limit, and as it’s getting late here in Perth, and as I guess self-righteous aquaphobes in the US will reach that limit before I return… time for some closing remarks from me.

    I want to single out Amphiox as my most respected opponent here.

    I apologise for misjudging this guy/gal (assume gal from now one for brevity), early on. I thought she was an ignorant gang member with her repeated “NO FOSSIL. NO TALK” rants. Turns out I was quite wrong about that. I really think she is one of the few people who is genuinely rational about this idea.

    The Myoglobin post on the other thread was an excellent one, and honestly, had me seriously reconsidering for a while. Damn those sirenians, eh? Or, thank god for “slow metabolism”.

    Post 20 was another excellent one. Having the courage to post some realistic tests that she says would cause her to reconsider was really encouraging. If only John Langdon had done something like that in 1997.

    Few opponents in many years I’ve ever debated with (an exception is also ohsu – credit there too) have ever shown the rationality to give as much thought to the problem as this.

    I repeat, I agree with all of those points, even though from my perspective waterside hypotheses already meet half of them.

    So, Ok, enough of the plaudits. I still think she’s got a few faults.

    Despite repeated corrections/reminders, she keeps “forgetting” about my river apes … coastal people model and seems to keep distorting my ideas with other’s for mischevious purposes. (Does so again here!)

    I asked why, if she LOVED the idea so much, why she’s so determined to find fault now. Either she’s telling fibs about being a convert from the idea, or hiding something.

    For someone who repeats “No FOSSIL, NO TALK” so often she is strangely silent about my request for fossil evidence that shows the LCA of all the great apes was a gibbon-like brachiator.

    Anyway, one more Amphiox post to reply to…

    Re 358 Amphiox

    on being told they are losing

    Even if there were 100 (as opposed to just 25) people here telling me that they thought I was wrong, I’d still want them to do better than the ad hoc scapings you guys have come up with. Humans do swim better than chimps. The observational evidence is ovberwhelming. The “exaptation null” just-so stories are mostly very weak and the best (“we swim better because we’re clever”) is as anthropocentric an argument as any idea that have proposed.

    The very least any of you could have said – but dididn’t – was… well, yes, maybe there was more selection for better swimming in humans than chimpanzees, so how could we test it? More science needs to be done. But instead, you all scraped together any self-righteous, evidence-denying, know-it-all excuse you could find.

    Nothing has changed really, then.

    any minority environment

    You say for early hominids open savannah was the majority environment, I say it was gallery forests microhabitats. You say for late hominins/early modern humans there was no majority environment, I say it was coastal habitats.

    We do not know yet, but more science will determine who is right.

    And how does modern humans’ swimming ability have anything at all do to with walking on a dried out streambed? Or has Algis conceded that he has no argument with the swimming and is moving on to a new argument? … Earlier he was insisting that it had to be wading in waist-deep or deeper water, and only wading, that could imaginably promote bipedalism. Now he has walked things back so far that he’s completely removed the water from the equation

    See? Misrepresenting again. Why do you keep doing this?

    River Apes: pre Homo. Wading-climbing facultative bipedalism in seasonally flooded gallery forests. More ape like otherwise.

    Coastal People: Post Homo: Obligate, efficient striding bipeds as beach combers that also (shock horror) do a bit of swimmign and diving for food too. Coastal habitats.

    Amphiox, why don’t you join WHHE and discus it further with us there?

    Algis Kuliukas

  346. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    algiskuliukas

    Re 355 Tigger

    Evidence

    Humans swim better than chimps.

    See above post for the overhelmning behavioural support for that.

    Evidence denying is what creationists do. Why do you guys keep doing it?

    Algis Kuliukas

    *Facepalm*

    How many times have you been told now?

    You cannot use the observation as evidence for that observation

    PLUS that isn’t even an accurate observation!

    The actual observation is that most of those humans who do swim mostly don’t swim very well, but do it anyway in moderate numbers a small amount of the time; while chimpanzees avoid getting wet whenever possible and particularly avoid getting into water deep enough to swim in.

    Those observations are better explained by current cultural influences, rather than an evolutionary path for humans that included some individuals sometimes spending less than half of one percent of their time in water deep enough to wade in but was longer than the ancestors of chimpanzees spent in water.

    Besides, as others have said above, much better than I could put it, whatever-it-was-that-led-to-obligate-bipedalism also led to us being far worse swimmers than all those mammals whose ancestors spent far more time in the water than you say ours did, and either remain resolutely quadripedal or have changed shape over the generations to a more streamlined one.

    Yes, I do know that the comparison isn’t between us and aquatic animals (except when it is – see aah comparisons with seals and manatees) but between us and other great apes – but you haven’t yet shown your original premise to be true.

    We simply have no data yet to be able to say whether chimpanzees are, indeed, worse swimmers than humans, given that they won’t even get in the water.

  347. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’d still want them to do better than the ad hoc scapings you guys have come up with.

    You keep pretending you are right until shown wrong. Actually, you wrong until you show yourself right. You fail at that. Your arguments are the ad hoc scrapings expected from somebody who is presupposing the idea, then trying to find scraps of evidence to back it up, and failing.

    Humans do swim better than chimps.

    Fully explained by different cultures. And you haven’t refuted the refutations, just kept repeating your claim like a mantra. You can’t win scientific arguments doing that.

    You say for early hominids open savannah was the majority environment, I say it was gallery forests microhabitats.

    You really haven’t been paying attention to those refuting you. Open savannah is not what people or the scientific evidence was saying. Mixed trees and grassland. You failed to see the agreement reached from our side, and kept pretending it was open savannah.

    River Apes: pre Homo. Wading-climbing facultative bipedalism in seasonally flooded gallery forests. More ape like otherwise.

    This is your repeated claim. We have repeatedly asked for evidence to support your claim. You haven’t shown your idea holds water.

  348. Entropy101 says

    @ChasCPeterson
    Nope, collecting abalone won’t work by breath hold diving. You can’t get them from the rock by hand. You’ll need to pry them away by force with an implement and are hardly visible without a mask. You can however find them in rock pools, where you have the time to look for them and pry them loose. Besides, abalone is mostly a cold water species. Not a very good idea to spend a copious amount of time in the water for an item you can’t hardly see and when found, can only collect with difficulty that I can also collect in rock pools. Besides, in an area with abalone, there are also oysters, mussels, crabs ans other assorted sea critters, all of them are easier to collect and only my feet have to get wet.

  349. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Chas, Robert Harvey was being sarcastic about the ‘arctic waters’. It was in response to CHE claiming that “… seals having fur is because they live in colder climates. I’m constantly repeating myself here.”

  350. robb says

    you want aquatic ape evidence? i’ve got aquatic ape evidence:

    Johnny Weissmuller was a swimmer. he played Tarzan the *ape* man. therefore QED.

  351. algiskuliukas says

    Oooh… one more….

    What borders on crazy is your weird, obsessive campaign

    What, you mean my obsessive campaign to try to get a field of science to think rationally, as opposed to hysterically, about this idea for the first time in over 50 years?

    How obsessive do you think it is to equate these idea with creationism, like Henry Gee did a few weeks ago? Who was it that launched another sneering campaign right here with a sneering post “Mockery is Good” about the childish slur that it was as bad as “space apes”?

    I am sorry but I do find the response to these modest, plausible and Darwinist ideas absolutely appaling. It’s the very worse kind of group sneering and deserves any ridicule it gets.

    Algis Kuliukas

  352. Amphiox says

    You really haven’t been paying attention to those refuting you. Open savannah is not what people or the scientific evidence was saying. Mixed trees and grassland. You failed to see the agreement reached from our side, and kept pretending it was open savannah.

    It is as if he doesn’t understand the term “eurytopic”. Either that or he is deliberately putting false words into people’s mouths because he knows he cannot refute the arguments when he actually accepts the terms as they were intended to be meant.

  353. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What, you mean my obsessive campaign to try to get a field of science to think rationally, as opposed to hysterically, about this idea for the first time in over 50 years?

    Your ideas aren’t scientifically rational at the moment. The fault lies with you, and not science.

    I am sorry but I do find the response to these modest, plausible and Darwinist ideas absolutely appaling.

    All you have is ideas. A philosophy that appeals to you and your vanity (I’ll show those staid stick in the mud types). Your ideas fail when they are examined and all the evidence for all the theories are compared. Yours keeps coming up non-parsimonious when everything is examined.

  354. Robert Harvey says

    My remark on Baja California was in response to this:

    “And seals having fur is because they live in colder climates.”

    If Baja California is your idea of a cold climate that explains why aquatic mammals like seals have heavy fur coats, then I’m not the dumbass in this picture.

  355. ChasCPeterson says

    collecting abalone won’t work by breath hold diving. You can’t get them from the rock by hand. You’ll need to pry them away by force with an implement and are hardly visible without a mask.

    Implements and masks are not incompatible with breath-hold diving; just ask the California Dept. of Fish & Game.*
    But I yield; was just kidding anyway.

    Harvey was being sarcastic about the ‘arctic waters’

    I don’t see why you think so. He didn’t say “waters”, you did. He also pointed out beavers in Louisiana and something about otters, the point (seemingly) that furred animals live also in warm places.
    And my point was that where sea lions (and for that matter sea otters) actually live is cold as hell, even off of Baja.

    *Apparently the Chumash Coastal People (hey Algis!) did not dive for their abalone. They picked it intertidally.
    +1

  356. Amphiox says

    How obsessive do you think it is to equate these idea with creationism, like Henry Gee did a few weeks ago?

    That is not what the word “obsessive” even means, or the way it is supposed to be properly used.

    The actual observation is that most of those humans who do swim mostly don’t swim very well, but do it anyway in moderate numbers a small amount of the time; while chimpanzees avoid getting wet whenever possible and particularly avoid getting into water deep enough to swim in.

    Those observations are better explained by current cultural influences, rather than an evolutionary path for humans that included some individuals sometimes spending less than half of one percent of their time in water deep enough to wade in but was longer than the ancestors of chimpanzees spent in water.

    Since Algis apparently does not comprehend the importance of time relevant evidence and has been unable to present any that is actually relevant to the ideas he proposes, he hasn’t even successfully ruled out the exact opposite scenario to what he is proposing, namely that humans (H. sapiens) is a transitional species in the process of evolving, from fully terrestrial ancestors, into an aquatic/waterside ape, thanks to the advent of new selection pressures that began when H. sapiens started to exploit seafood resources, assuming that such selection pressures end up being sustained over time.

  357. Eurasian magpie says

    Chas, the context is that Christian whatsisname argues that Pinnipedia are hairier than Cetacea because they live in colder temperatures.

  358. Vicki says

    What is “obsessive” is your campaign to get someone, anyone, on this blog comment thread to say “Algis is right” by repeating the same arguments that haven’t worked the first two or ten or twelve times. Even if Amphiox or Nerd or PZ were to say “you know, that makes sense,” you wouldn’t have achieved what you say you want.

    Your goal should be to state a useful hypothesis, find evidence, and publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, so other anthropologists will take notice. Not to convince this crowd, satisfying though it might be. Certainly not to convince yourself or someone else who agrees with you that we are hidebound and won’t look at your evidence: whether anyone here is hidebound is irrelevant to how humans became obligate bipeds, or the distribution of our body hair, or why we have better language skills than chimps or gorillas.

    “Humans swim better than chimps” is a hypothesis, but not a useful one, because true or false, it tells us nothing about chimp or human ancestors between the LCA and Homo sapiens.

  359. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Chas, you are right. He typed ‘arctic cold'; I mangled it. I apologise. It was still sarcastic, though.

  360. ChasCPeterson says

    Christian whatsisname argues that Pinnipedia are hairier than Cetacea because they live in colder temperatures.

    He did?
    Well, whatever. I still don’t know what was meant but it’s not worth quibbling about.
    (for the curious, it turns out that sea lions actually have very little hair wherever they live, whereas fur seals do, and they live here. It seems to be two different ways to cope. For the latest on pinniped insulation, here’s an interesting pdf.)

  361. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Because if population (a) go swimming half an hour a week (on average) for 2.5 million years or more and population (b) do not, many more of population (a) will drown than population (b).

    Okay, maybe YOU’RE stupid enough to keep going in the water under those circumstances, but give our ancestors a little credit.

    2) We have a whole host of traits consistent with some selection for it and none that contradict it.

    Both sides of this are a flat-out lie as has been demonstrated in the comments you’re ignoring in this very thread to masturhate over “aquaskeptics.” You need to engage with this.

    Funny. The idea is both too similar to mainstream ideas and too different at the same time.

    This is a strawman. You claim that your idea is substantially different from the mainstream and yet have pared back what you propose so that it would contribute nothing to human evolution on top of what accepted theory proposes…yet keep insisting it must be the primary driving force in human evolution. Observing this inconsistency between your claims is not hypocritical.

  362. anthrosciguy says

    The idea has gotten more and more vague as it has gotten older

    Jim, you know this is not true. The first published definition of these ideas was in our 2011 eBook.

    Tell everyone what your non-vague definition is.

    Mind you, as you know I disagree that nobody explained what they were thinking of when they talked about the AAT in the first 50 years, but it that were true it would be an indictment of those proponents and the idea. For it to take a half century to provide a definition of the idea as you claim it did is ridiculous.

  363. anthrosciguy says

    Even walking in long grass (e.g. your 3rd image) would reduce this efficiency significantly.

    In comment 313 I quoted you with your tests results showing this is a massively bigger problem for water; if it’s a problem on land walking through brush it’s a far bigger problem walking through water. (20% vs. 73%)

  364. anthrosciguy says

    Can you name the allele you’re talking about? Or is it entirely imaginary?

    Obviously the point was a general one. Do you dispute that the body hair pattern in humans, as compared to chimps, is genetically controlled, to name but one example. How many alleles do you imagine are involved in those differences?

    Algis Kuliukas

    Obviously, with my experience with Algis I’m not expecting answers from him, but wanted to highlight this exchange as an example of his tactics.

    Note that he’s asked a direct, easy to answer question, and a very apropos question too.

    Algis’ “answer” is a non-answer. He doesn’t say. He makes an excuse for not saying (“Obviously the point was a general one”). Then he brings up hair and asks a rhetorical question (which he should know the answer to because I told him about it, and after denying it for some time, I think he’s probably accepted it). But he doesn’t say that’s what he’s talking about. He pointedly does not say. This gives him wriggle room; if you then talk about hair, trying to figure whatever point you think he might have meant (since he doesn’t say what his point was) he can either say that wasn’t his point, or even that he wasn’t actually saying that hair was the change he was talking about. It was just a “general” point.

  365. vaiyt says

    The Myoglobin post on the other thread was an excellent one, and honestly, had me seriously reconsidering for a while. Damn those sirenians, eh? Or, thank god for “slow metabolism”.

    “How convenient that the facts don’t leave a gap for me to shove an aquatic ape in!”

    See, this is why you’re a kook. You treat reality as an inconvenience to your mental masturbation, and you think everyone else is pulling conjecture ex culo like you do.

  366. Owlmirror says

    2. Fossil shellfish dating to the appropriate period …

    We have excellent evidence of that, as you know….
    Marean, C., Bar-Matthews, M., Bernatchex, J., Fisher, E., Goldberg, P., Herries, A., Jacobs, Z., Jerardino, A., Karkanas, P., Nilssen, P., Thompson, E., Watts, I., Williams, H. Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene. Nature 449:, (2007).
    164 +/- 12 Kya is very close to the estimates of the origin of modern Homo sapiens

    I kinda suspect that “appropriate period” meant more along the lines of the Wading-Climbing stage, rather than your “Coastal People” stage. Be that as it may, on reading the actual paper, I am not so sure that it supports your “Coastal People” hypothesis either, inasmuch as if you watch the supplemental video, or read the supplemental table 1 (pg 18 of the supplemental nature06204-s1.pdf), the researchers note that 164 Kya, the sea was about 4.5km from the cave.

    I’m not saying that the inhabitants didn’t swim at all, but it mostly looks like the people living there were almost entirely harvesting shellfish and other cast-up sea life (there were crab remains, and a barnacle that is said to have been from a scavenged whale) from the tidal flat.

    How does that support your “Coastal People” idea?

  367. anthrosciguy says

    Algis has had all that pointed out to him before (over and over as you might expect). A couple other points that people might not be familiar with in regard to Algis’ use of the Marean et al. paper. He’d been using this as a reference for several years but when several posters at TRF read the paper, it was clear that Algis has not actually read the paper in that period.

    He had been claiming it was a population which lived ON the coast, and that it was at the same period of the first appearance of Homo sapiens sapiens, that the date ranges of the first appearance of H.s.s. and the shell middens in question overlapped. He persisted in this for — literally — weeks despite my pointing out, with references, that the error ranges did not overlap (the difference between them is 14,000-48,000 years; in his eventual acceptance of reality Algis still tried to rescue his claim by calling it a “relatively small gap”). There are far too many posts over a wide range of weeks to get across the clusterfuck aspect of Algis’ thinking on this, but this one gives a slight idea:

    http://www.talkrational.org/showthread.php?p=1516228#post1516228

    During this time, Algis also engaged in mixing up the terms LCA, MCRA, and others willy-nilly.

  368. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    I wrote some of the following before realizing I wasn’t being paid for it. It’s based on my observations, and on Algis’s close resemblance to a messed-up teen of my acquaintance–(he sounds like a rude, smart-ass, punk kid with a little bit of info, a big bunch of contempt and an aggravated ego, with no power or ability). (Its style is based on my acquaintance with various psychologists and counselors (not as a client, if that matters)).

    Algis is indeed wanking here, fantasizing that he is a scientist.

    He doesn’t really have a water-related hypothesis. He just has the idea that he does have one, and that he’s a scientist. He wants to be a respected scholar, and that what he is pretending to be. He can’t carry that off, so he blames everyone else for his problems with the illusion.

    His “idea”, and the fact that he has it, is very important to his self-image as a smart, scientific scholar. It is his identity, his life.

    Notice that when anyone criticizes the idea (what little they can find of it), he erupts with flailings about how he has been personally maligned. Notice, also, that when his behavior is criticized—his rants, multiple exclamation marks, sneers and dishonesty—he regards such remarks as an attempt to discredit his idea.

    His behavior and “debating” style are very much like the tactics of internet cranks from various pseudo-scientific fields. When anyone points out that HE, Algis, is acting like a person who supports creationism acts—with no mention of the merits of either idea, just the actions of two people—he heatedly accuses the comparer of being unable to distinguish between rational science (his) and a mockery of science. Algis further makes it sound like his opponent conflates the two ideas, and thinks Algis conflates the two, and is part of a vast conspiracy against Algis. He does this repeatedly.

    Part of his technique may be an effort to disorient those he is arguing with. If he goes off on some mad tangent, the people who disagree with him have to re-orient, and are distracted from their previous points. His rhetorical practices are what is called a “Gish gallop”, producing so many random arguments that opponents cannot address them all, but Algis adds in rapid switches from the personal to the scholarly, from hysterical ranting to attempts at lofty scholarship. He seems to forget his previous antics, and seems to think that others have also.

    He seems to have picked up a rough-and-ready style of argumentation over the years he has been campaigning for his reputation—not really for his hypothesis, as it’s vague definition changes constantly—for his own aggrandizement as the groundbreaking scholar beset by “haters”. He takes objections to his idea as insults, turns them around and hurls them back, often inappropriately—his hypothesis is a disjointed mess of what are called “just-so stories”, and after having that epithet applies to his work, he added the term to his own arsenal, but doesn’t seem capable of determining when his opponents are truly making up “just-so” stories to compare or to mock his own, and when a scientifically-valid scenario or theory is being used in refutation.

    Algis has a passive-aggressive style he uses to attack his opponents. From a discussion:

    Algis:

    Re 75 PZ Myers

    Please. Do continue.

    Blimey. Give me a chance. My reply to “Tigger” was made late last night. Then I went to bed.

    Algis, in addition to all his other problems, is a paranoid passive-aggressive punisher. It starts with him seeking ways to take offense. He then finds ways to confront the perceived slight, while pretending to be lofty and superiort. He then punishes the “guilty” party, by putting them in the wrong and making them look bad, both passively and directly.

    In the above blockquote, PZ said, “Please. Do continue.” This was likely meant to be a sarcastic invitation for Algis to continue to embarrass himself, but it was kindly phrased. Algis chose to take it as an order, and to snarl back at the unreasonableness of that imaginary order. He was not being sarcastic or witty back, as he continues with an explanation of why he could not comply, and adds detail to make his reason seem sane and obvious. Algis writes, “My reply to “Tigger” was made late last night. Then I went to bed.” Which, of course, makes PZ look even worse for demanding that poor little Algis give up on sleep to fulfill PZ’s irrational demand.

    Notice also the quote marks around “Tigger”. They are not needed, as Tigger is capitalized and serves clearly as a name in this context and in the blog comment section. The quote marks serve only to shame Tigger for not fitting Algis’s standards of naming. He himself uses his full name as his internet moniker (with no caps and no space). In addition, he places his full name as a signature at the bottom of each of his comments, which is not the usual practice of commenters in the forum. They have pointed that out to him, saying that they regard his signing habit as a sign of egotism, but he neither conforms to usual customs nor acknowledges their input.

    Some of that stems from his own failure to understand his own limitations, and to recognize that others legitimately exceed his abilities in various ways. When he does perceive superior ability in others, he seeks to passive-agressively attack/punish them.

    Algis justifies his punishment of others ar as their just desserts for their treatment of him. He takes anything other than fulsome praise as an attack, and behaves in such a way as to attract criticism, which he then takes as irrational attacks, and fights to punish the attackers.

    Algis completely fails to understand other’s points of view, and that their point of view can be different from his without being automatically wrong. He constructs elaborate fantasies to explain to himself why others are wrong, and actively seeks to impose those fantasies on others, becoming further confused when they do not conform to and agree with his constructs.

    He has constructed an elaborate pseudo-scientific “hypothesis” that is partly cribbed from other pseudoscience, and partly built of his own embellishments. He devotes enormous amounts of time to efforts to gain recognition of his “hypothesis” as valid, often in inappropriate venues. He actively provokes disagreement and gains a very unhealthy satisfaction from the reactions of others, almost all of whom are in disagreement with his “hypothesis”, and most are also offended by his anti-social behavior.

    He has revised his “hypothesis” to something indistinguishable from present science, which at first seems a good sign, but he insists that it is greatly different and vastly important. He attaches great importance to the fact that no serious scientist has taken his “hypothesis” seriously.

    His “hypothesis” is also indistinguishable from his own self-identity. It seems safe to say that his attitudes toward his construct are the same as his feeling about himself. He takes any criticism of it as criticism of self, and obviously seeking recognition of his own value through the value of his brainchild.

    He needs counseling, at least, to determine what further intervention is needed.

  369. Amphiox says

    Obviously the point was a general one. Do you dispute that the body hair pattern in humans, as compared to chimps, is genetically controlled, to name but one example. How many alleles do you imagine are involved in those differences?

    See, here again is a demonstration that Algis doesn’t understand what “evidence” means. The assertion that human body hair pattern is controlled by heritable alleles that are different from those in chimpanzees is a hypothesis. (The null is that the differences are heritable and are the result of environmental influences only). It might be a very likely hypothesis, but it is still a hypothesis.

    The identity of the specific alleles is EVIDENCE. Evidence that demonstrates the validity of the hypothesis. And once you have that identity, you can do a whole lot more than just wank about generalities like Algis does. You can analyze the sequences and figure out the time ranges of the divergence between the human version and the chimpanzee version. You can look for evidence of selective sweeps in the introns (and estimate dates for them). You can put raw numbers into the various equations that aren’t random guesses anymore, but estimates bounded by EVIDENCE.

    And both the human genome and chimpanzee genome are published and a matter of record. You can go and look at the two and compare the two and find out in what places they are different, and see if those differences include alleles affecting body hair. You can do most of this in your own bedroom with a computer, the right software, and the public-domain sequences which you can download off the internet.

    It is an experiment waiting for Algis and co. to do.

  370. David Marjanović says

    The lurkers support me in e-mail have pointed out this amazing paper to me. It argues that Sivapithecus was a knuckle-walker, and discusses the possibilities that knuckle-walking evolved 1, 2, or 3 times among great apes. (Sivapithecus belongs to Ponginae, the orang-utan side of Hominidae.) It doesn’t resolve the question, but discusses differences in the adaptations to knuckle-walking between Sivapithecus, gorillas and chimps.

    I would simply point out that a 30-40% tree coverage is pretty much what one would expect in a rather thin and drying gallery forest habitat.

    That’s called “tree savanna”.

    @ David Marjanović

    Check out:

    Carcharhinus leucas: Zambezi Sharks.

    That is the bull shark… and occurs all the way to Kentucky. o_O

    I heard that when Tiger Sharks bite humans they go “oooh, crunchy, might be a turtle, one of my favorite prey items” and go CHOMP!

    Interesting.

    Thanks, but could you point me to one where “slow metabolism” is specifically explained in detail. Never heard of it.

    [...]

    Re the first quote above, I want everyone to keep in mind that Algis has taken some zoology at least as an undergrad (“graduated with a degree in Zoology/Pharmacology from Nottingham University”), has done a 1 year masters, and has been studying at a supposedly PhD candidate level for going on a decade. All in a biology-evolution field.

    *facepalm*

    But (to keep focus at one thing at a time, I don’t know if this was addressed in the confusion of the closed thread), is it indeed possible to detect isotopic diet residue on early Homo erectus specimens, as opposed to prior Homo habilis specimens?

    You just might like to read a thread before making it even longer.

    Have you read comment 227 now? Yes? Good. Near the top of comment 6 in this thread, there’s a link. Follow it.

    And explain why H. erectus occurs so far from coasts. One does not simply walk to the sea from central Sumatra.

    Lions and hyenas? Circle the young, throw some rocks, and make some noise, they will look for easier prey.

    Also, there were no lions back then, at least not in Africa. There were pumas and bears, though. I’ve provided links in the previous thread, which CHE should read before commenting here.

    I also provided a link to the description of Crocodylus anthropophagus. Twice.

    How many of you might just guzzle down a handful of oysters?

    Another reason why you should read the previous thread before commenting here.

    We don’t lack blubber. Or, at least human subcutanous fat, which is what helps keep us warm

    Few humans are as fat as the average male orang-utan!

    @282: black bears and grizzly bears are both able to walk bipedally and semi-aquatic.

    No, that’s not what the term means. Otters and crocodiles are semiaquatic. Polar bears might count, and Kolponomos probably did, but that’s it.

    Oreopithecus has been suggested, the “swamp ape” 9-7mya. Vertical bipedalism in shallow water seems to be a specific trend for simians.

    Oh. Two more reasons for you to read the previous thread. Oreopithecus is discussed at length on the first page; I even reviewed a paper on it there.

    A furless aquatic quadruped would be hippos. And elephants, rhinos, tapirs and some suids, suggested as past or present semiaquatics.

    Rhinos and pigs are not semiaquatic, and none of their mammalian ancestors have been.

    Does anyone really think that human ancestors would have any trouble whatsoever “fully extending” their lower limbs while striding on such a terrain?

    No, no – as he failed to explain in comment 343 but explained in his 2002 paper, Algis notes that chimps & bonobos walk with bent hips and knees, and thinks this must be ancestral, so that an explanation would be required for how our straighter posture evolved.

    I pointed out 2 or 3 times that orang-utans walk bipedally with extended hips and knees just like us.

    Algis never reacted.

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    Algis! Read this!

    From your comment 330:

    I think the genus Homo started swimming by rift valley lakes and Indian ocean coasts ca 2.6Ma. The results that followed (or started to evolve) are those that we see today as humans… oligate, efficient long-distance walker (on ideal substrates) with a bit of swimming and diving on top.

    Uh, wait, didn’t you just say… yes, you did, in comment 177:

    I keep repeating, but you keep ignoring, that my model is called River Apes… Coastal People. The improved swimming ability, in my view, came quite late, at the time of modern Homo sapiens therefore it is us, our species that is most signiciantly compared with chimps that is pertinent to the idea.

    Well. The origin of Homo sapiens some 0.2 or 0.6 million years ago (depending on your definition of H. sapiens) isn’t the same as the origin of Homo some 2.6 Ma ago.

    You’ve contradicted yourself. Please pick one, and explain why.

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    Can you name the allele you’re talking about? Or is it entirely imaginary?

    Obviously the point was a general one. Do you dispute that the body hair pattern in humans, as compared to chimps, is genetically controlled, to name but one example. How many alleles do you imagine are involved in those differences?

    …How about at least one per difference?!?!?

    See also comment 396.

    I want to single out Amphiox as my most respected opponent here.

    And then you spend a whole screen discussing a person instead of an argument.

    This is not science.

    The Myoglobin post on the other thread was an excellent one, and honestly, had me seriously reconsidering for a while. Damn those sirenians, eh? Or, thank god for “slow metabolism”.

    You’ve been given two links about metabolic rates. Follow them!!!

    Have you really no clue why you need to eat so much more than a crocodile or snake or perentie your size?!?

    my request for fossil evidence that shows the LCA of all the great apes was a gibbon-like brachiator

    Well, we don’t have fossils of that ancestor itself, so how about some phylogenetic bracketing from other apes, extant and extinct?

    You know what? Try it, and tell us what comes out. :-)

    During this time, Algis also engaged in mixing up the terms LCA, MCRA, and others willy-nilly.

    …What do you mean? LCA (last common ancestor) and MRCA (most recent common ancestor) are in fact synonyms.

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    Summary

    I think comment 395 is right.

    In addition to that, Algis, do you know what I find it really hilarious? You seem to be arguing that because you’re not spontaneously combusting while you’re repeating yourself and contradicting yourself (see above) and skimming comments without following the links in them, you’re winning! Do you know what kind of people I’ve seen behave in this hilariously absurd way?

    Creationists.

    You behave like a creationist, not like a scientist.

    “Why do people laugh at creationists [and at you]?
    Only creationists [and you] don’t understand why!”

  371. David Marjanović says

    OK, I’ve also seen other Christian apologists behave like this. I remember one in particular who seemed to believe that because our arguments didn’t cause him a “road to Damascus” experience where he suddenly converted to our point of view in a flash of light, they all had to be wrong! I don’t think we discussed evolution with that one.

  372. says

    [Delurking] David, I would broaden that focus just a wee bit further than that, even. I think Algis thinks and argues like a theologist: thinking about a problem, coming up with an explanation via thought experiments and superficial glances at what others have said, and then staking out the territory and just defending it from there on out – all with just more words and thought experiments. Not a single physical data point in sight.

    He strikes me as really not understanding what real science is all about, or how it’s done out in the real world. Which strikes me as strange, given all those science courses he was supposed to have taken (if I read a previous post right – something about a zoology undergrad degree?). But I do seem to catch that aroma from so very many non-science types, especially theologians and other religious thinkers, that I’ve come to expect it. [Relurking]

  373. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Barefoot Bree, don’t be shy. You nailed something that I suspected *doh*.

  374. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    David Marjanović

    OK, I’ve also seen other Christian apologists behave like this. I remember one in particular who seemed to believe that because our arguments didn’t cause him a “road to Damascus” experience where he suddenly converted to our point of view in a flash of light, they all had to be wrong! I don’t think we discussed evolution with that one.

    So that’s why our wet ape enthusiasts keep reiterating the same points! They think that everyone arguing against them is doing the same thing, they just have to be tenacious and it’s just a case of whichever side suddenly gets that flash of understanding – “Oh! Now I get it!” – as to who ‘wins’. Perhaps that is how he has always learned new things/unlearned wrong things; bafflement, vehement arguing, followed by sudden understanding.

    You’ve also neatly explained something that confused me earlier; AK’s comment:

    I want to single out Amphiox as my most respected opponent here.

    He really does seem to be seeing this as a contest of wills, rather than a discussion of ideas.

    And he has, several times on this thread now, said a variation of ‘it’s just an idea'; which makes me wonder why he is defending it with such passion against all the contrary evidence.

    After you so graciously explained to him, several times, that personalities are irrelevent to the argument.
    Sigh.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Menyambal, you should be submitting a bill for that assessment @ 395!

  375. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Barefoot Bree, I agree with you about the religious aspect. I left out what I thought, as I was getting creeped-out writing. You thought and wrote it better. Please come back.

    David M, thanks.

    No, one does not walk to the ocean from central Sumatra. It is a damn big island. I have flown back and forth over it, and in one unjeezly-long night, driven up and over the spine of it (I have seen the luwak). and done a road trip to Toba, and all that was only at the northwest, narrower end.

    Speaking of which, if Algis is back to the Indian Ocean coast, I am back to tsunamis.

    Do you ever get the feeling that he has the entire human race down at the waterside? We are screaming and pointing out sharks and hippos and crocodiles, oh my, and he is belittling us as a pack of hysterical ninnies.

    By the way, one doesn’t need to be walking on firm flat ground to appreciate bipedality. I used to enjoy going downhill through boulder fields, from rock to rock, like a crazy, careless teen. There’s also some report that walking on cobblestones is actually better for you. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050630055256.htm

  376. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Interesting article about the cobblestones. But although they have laid it out to look like a report of a scientific paper, it actually reads more like a devious advertisment for the mats.

    Why on Earth would a genuinely scientific group go on about reflexology and ‘acupoints’ and then finish with “This new physical activity could provide a different choice of physical activity that is therapeutic and health-enhancing and that can be done quickly and easily in the comfort of one’s home. The mats are available directly from the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon. Please phone […] for more information.”?

  377. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Tigger, that is odd. I hadn’t read it, just remembered hearing about the idea, and Googled up a link. It may be a sales ploy, indeed. It does say it’s based on a Chinese practice—not that I’d trust Chinese “medicine”, especially the chi part.

    Still, I think Algis has done one of his games in talking about firm, flat, walking as an important factor. And, of course, he doesn’t think that his places to find it aren’t really places to find it.

    Algis is what I call a believer. He believes he has something, he believes he is making good arguments, he believes in a conspiracy against him, he believes he has proof of all that, and someday he is going to believe something harmful.

  378. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    We visited China and noticed that adults of all ages spent about 30 minutes each day walking, standing, and sometimes dancing on these beautifully laid paths of river stones in the parks and gardens of large cities. They did this for their health every day of the week.

    See, now, 30 minutes a day, that’s significant. 30 minutes a week? ;-)

  379. algiskuliukas says

    Five minute post before going to work as I see we still haven’t reached the 500 …

    The 3D mantra: Deny and Distort to Discredit.

    Deny: You couldn’t possibly wish for more pertinent evidence, in a debate about the relative degree of selection from moving through water as experienced by the ancestors of humans versus the ancestors of chimps, than… humans swim and dive better than chimps. It’s the elephant in the room and yet the gang of pseudoskeptics here have no embarassment or shame in conjuring all manner of excuses (many contradictory) to deny it – just like creationists do.

    Distort: The best among you, Amphiox, has repeatedly twisted my argument to make it seem illogical. Conflating wading arguments (early) with swimming ones (late). The master of distortion chips in here like he has for 17 years, twisting anyone’s words who writes about this subject. (Misrepresenting Dennett’s clear support of Elaine Morgan is just the latest, most blatant) and no-one says a word of criticism.

    Discredit: Led by the guy who started the blog!! – Idiot, loon, kook, wanker, the gang have no hesitation in following. I’m somehow clinically insane, now, I see. I am just like a creationist. Well, as to the first, maybe you have a point. Banging my head against the brick wall of obstinacy that is this kind of response is definitely a crazy thing to do. If I’d heard a decent response to things like the swimming argument above, or the fact that the one place where all geat apes are bipedal is the one place now where the field sneers at as a decent idea on bipedal origins – maybe I’d stop.

    But as for the creationist slurs – fuck you!

    Please cite any creationist who has now listed several pieces of evidence that would cause him/her to change is mind.

    List a creationist-like idea that proposes the fundamental mechanism of natural selection stronger than the mainstream does.

    All people are admitting, when you they this argument, is they they do not have the mental cappacity to discriminate between the entirely plausible and the totally fucking stupid. Congratulations.

    Algis Kuliukas

  380. anthrosciguy says

    A furless aquatic quadruped would be hippos. And elephants, rhinos, tapirs and some suids, suggested as past or present semiaquatics.

    Rhinos and pigs are not semiaquatic, and none of their mammalian ancestors have been.

    Not to mention that tapirs are not hairless.

  381. anthrosciguy says

    During this time, Algis also engaged in mixing up the terms LCA, MCRA, and others willy-nilly.

    …What do you mean? LCA (last common ancestor) and MRCA (most recent common ancestor) are in fact synonyms.

    This post might get some of this across. Algis was confused about the LCA at the point of speciation to H.s.s. being our MRCA. We supplied the correct info with refs about the MCRA and he simply didn’t believe, or perhaps not understand, what on earth we were talking about.

    http://talkrational.org/showthread.php?p=1518535#post1518535

  382. Ogvorbis says

    164 +/- 12 Kya is very close to the estimates of the origin of modern Homo sapiens

    But it is hundreds of thousands, or millions, of years away from bipedality (which has been one of your arguments for aquatic apes).

    So now you claim that bipedality has nothing to do with wading? hmmm.

  383. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Please cite any creationist who has now listed several pieces of evidence that would cause him/her to change is mind.

    Please cite any evidence that has caused you to doubt your thin and liquid idea….

  384. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There is a history of people asking Algis this question.

    Of course, TrueBelievers™ simply can’t be scientific and state what will refute their ideas, lest the evidence be presented to demolish their religion.

  385. anthrosciguy says

    Please cite any creationist who has now listed several pieces of evidence that would cause him/her to change is mind.

    Well, creationist Paul Nelson had a debate in 2007 with Michael Ruse where he apparently did exactly that.

    Ruse versus Nelson: What Would Make Us Change Our Minds? An Unconventional Debate, October 4

    Next month, on Thursday, October 4, Michael Ruse and I are going to have a sort of un-debate. Each of us will be asked to spell out what would change our minds about the other’s position. More to the point, what would persuade us to adopt the opposing stance on evolution or ID?

    What evidence, what arguments, what whatever, would change Michael Ruse’s view of intelligent design? Conversely, what would turn me into a card-carrying Darwinian?

  386. anteprepro says

    humans swim and dive better than chimps. It’s the elephant in the room

    You do realize that the term “elephant in the room” is big and significant, right? I don’t think “I think humans swim slightly less poorly than chimps” fits that bill. It isn’t an “elephant in the room” scenario if we are in fact acknowledging it and saying that it isn’t as “big” as you think it is.

    You have not successfully argued that your key piece of “evidence” is even true, yet alone significant, yet alone that it is proof of your hypothesis. Your only argument seems to have been to scoff and guffaw at the very idea that someone would disagree with the truth and/or relevance of “humans swim slightly less poorly than chimps.”

    Banging my head against the brick wall of obstinacy

    You have repeated the same arguments over and over again, ignoring what other people say, and indeed retreading ground that has already been covered in the previous thread and hoping to get away with it. And you have to gall to pretend that everyone else is a “brick wall of obstinacy”?

    Please cite any creationist who has now listed several pieces of evidence that would cause him/her to change is mind.

    Crocoduck, cats giving birth to dogs, that kind of thing.

    List a creationist-like idea that proposes the fundamental mechanism of natural selection stronger than the mainstream does.

    The Super-evolution of “kinds” into a massive variety of more specific species after Noah’s Ark.

    I also must note, however, that it is dishonest to refute an analogy to creationism by pointing to the fact that you aren’t actually a creationist (i.e. that you accept evolution).

  387. Amphiox says

    Why do we say Algis is like a creationist?

    He does Gish Gallops, like a creationist.

    He moves the goalposts, like a creationist.

    He repeats already-refuted points ad nauseum while ignoring the prior refutation, like a creationist (in this case, like SPECIFIC creationists we on Pharyngula have direct personal experience of).

    He presupposes his claims, like a creationist.

    He approaches an argument as if he was trying to convince (convert) people, rather than demonstrate the validity of ideas, like many creationists.

    So he doesn’t evince every behavioral characteristic of a creationists. That’s why we say he is like a creationist, and we don’t say he is a creationist.

  388. Amphiox says

    Your only argument seems to have been to scoff and guffaw at the very idea that someone would disagree with the truth and/or relevance of “humans swim slightly less poorly than chimps.”

    That, too, is a common behavior seen among creationists. They scoff and guffaw at the very idea that someone would disagree with the truth that god exists, or that without god there can be no morals, or that anyone could possibly have meaning or purpose in life without god, and so forth.

    Banging my head against the brick wall of obstinacy

    Accusing anyone who refuses to accept their declarations about the self-evident truth of their god of obstinacy is also a standard creationist ploy.

    But as for the creationist slurs – fuck you!

    No, Algis. FUCK YOU.

  389. anteprepro says

    Accusing anyone who refuses to accept their declarations about the self-evident truth of their god of obstinacy is also a standard creationist ploy.

    Related: In addition to all of the other traits mentioned, Algis seems to also have the creationist-grade projection going for him.

  390. okstop says

    @ Menyambal (395), Bree (399), and Amphiox (416)

    I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment of Algis – he doesn’t even seem to grasp what a well-formed scientific hypothesis is, much less whether he has one or how to enter into debate about it. But that is why my objection to Moistened Primates was formal rather than substantive. Now, I know the game currently underway is for Algis to put forth a single line of substantive evidence and try to defend it, but I must note that once I stated my formal objection, he simply ignored it. I don’t think he can even process the nature of the objection, and he certainly can’t engage with it, just like he can’t engage with your comments about his methods in any serious fashion, because the only clubs in his rhetorical golf-bag have to do with hasty generalizations, circular arguments, and other mistreatments of substantive matters. He just CAN’T answer methodological questions… which stands to reason – if he had any cogent thoughts on method, he wouldn’t be the crank that he is.

    But, as much as I admire stamina of people who are getting into the substantive issues with him – like DavidM, for instance – I just can’t wrap my head around it. It’s impressive but exhausting to just think about. I mean, seriously, though, more power to you, y’all.

  391. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    okstop, it is the engagement of the Horde with the substantive issues which freed me from my own mistaken ways of thinking as a lurker here a few years ago. Watching lines of ‘argument’ being eviscerated helped me to learn some critical thinking, especially with regard to my own thought processes.

    The Pharynguhorde habit of feeding trolls until they burst, of explaining things over and over again, might have no effect on the people with whom they are engaging (although it sometimes does) but it definitely has an effect on some of the (thousands of?) lurkers. Whereas allowing faulty reasoning to stand unchallenged, tempting though that might be, could leave readers with the mistaken idea that the nonsense isn’t a problem and might, worse, be agreed with in some way.

    I was a voracious consumer of pseudoscience when I was younger. I had no mental tools to distinguish between nonsense dressed up in fancy jargon and evidence-based science*. Fortunately, that very curiosity that led me to fantasy (masquerading as fact; e.g. Roman Catholicism, von Däniken) led me here; oddly enough, primarily to learn from other believers how to argue against ‘atheists and materialists’. Fortunately, I was realistic enough to know that I didn’t have any good arguments of my own, and I learned from watching the horde demolish them that there aren’t any good arguments that contradict reality, and learned to recognise the tricks used to dupe eager minds.

    Of course I’m annoyed that I wasted half a century of mental effort chasing nonsense in an attempt to find out about the world I live in. But I’m glad that I came here. At least I’m not going to waste my remaining time chasing ghosts. I learn something new at every visit.

    And that is why it is sad to watch people double down when their cherished beliefs are challenged, and why it is worth it to keep challenging. I’ve been there. When one has invested decades in a lie, it hurts to admit one has been wrong, but I feel it is worse to throw even more of life down the drain after it. The truth isn’t Out There – it is right here, at my fingertips, thanks to science. The internet is a great tool for making up lost time.

    Algis, if you engage with the evidence that has been presented, you have a chance to stop wasting your time and intellect on a dead-end. I think that you want to make a difference. With the correct tools, you can.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    *I blame a school system that had no time to teach ways of thinking other than to accept everything that authority threw in my direction and regurgitate it for exams. I learned that, after the basics in the textbook had been taught, no-one had time to answer my further questions about a subject; any curiosity or desire to learn something in greater depth was squashed. And I went to a good school. Couple that with being raised in a religion that also valued obedience over initiative and also discouraged enquiry? I now agree with those who say that such an upbringing is intellectual child abuse.

  392. lochaber says

    Back to the bit about humans swimming better then chimps –

    I’m not sure this is actually true. I’ll grant that a trained human will swim better then an untrained chimp, but what about those humans who have never swam before (there are lots of them).

    Swimming is a learned skill – if a person doesn’t grow up with frequent access to water (and actually spend quite a bit of time in it), they probably aren’t going to be capable of swimming.

    If you take an adult person who has never swam before, and toss both them and a random chimp off a dock, what would happen?

  393. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    I hope that what would happen would be that both would be rescued immediately and the person who threw them in would be arrested!

    Safer all round to use computer modelling to decide the issue, yes?

  394. Lofty says

    Humans swim and dive better than chimps. It’s the elephant in the room .

    It’s actually the cockroach in the room. Shine a light on it and watch it disappear.
    I’d actually be grateful if evolution gave me adaptations suitable for anything more than a short dip. Perhaps Algis can tell us why we need wetsuits to stay in the water for any decent amount of time and scuba apparatus to dive for more than a fraction of a minute. And why my eyes don’t focus underwater without a facemask.

  395. vaiyt says

    I just love the “who likes raw oysters” bit. Because the argument from modern behavior patterns went so well with the evolutionary psychologists before…

  396. lochaber says

    Tigger> yeah, I don’t think there would be much chance of getting approval for that one… (but, no, I wouldn’t actually do that, and would be disturbed by anyone who suggested it with any amount of seriousness)

    I think the computer modeling could be useful to simulate how a trained chimp would do versus a trained person, but I’m kinda curious how different they would be if both were untrained.

    I also feel that too much issue is being made about body fat and buoyancy in regards to swimming. If anything, being fat and buoyant would hinder efforts to dive for food.
    Someone doesn’t need to float to swim, the motions of the limbs while swimming serve to keep the person afloat.

    ‘sides, while I think the coast can be an excellent source of food, most of it (and the easiest) is going to be found in the intertidal zone during low tide. – no swimming/diving needed, and one wouldn’t even have to wade in most cases. – just wander around during low tide, and pick mussels and sea urchins off the rocks, and then flip them over for crabs or whatever.

  397. anthrosciguy says

    You have repeated the same arguments over and over again, ignoring what other people say, and indeed retreading ground that has already been covered in the previous thread and hoping to get away with it. And you have to gall to pretend that everyone else is a “brick wall of obstinacy”?

    Besides Dunning-Kruger and Morton’s demon, Algis is a mass of projection. These things are also true of virtually all pseudoscience.

    I just love the “who likes raw oysters” bit. Because the argument from modern behavior patterns went so well with the evolutionary psychologists before…

    A lot of people like raw oysters. There are oyster bars all over the place. It’s amazing that anyone can be so entirely clueless to use “who likes raw oysters” as an argument considering the fact that it’s incredibly common and that this is incredibly widely known.

  398. anteprepro says

    Looking back, it seems that the point of that “raw oysters” argument is actually exactly that eating such things raw isn’t rare. It is setting up the alternative to eating “raw oysters” as eating “raw brains” and implying that the former is more “parsiminious” because the latter sounds icky to the average modern Western reader. Therefore, we ancient humans must have been eating oysters and not brains, therefore aquatic apes. And this argument from incredulity is obviously True, even if it isn’t unheard of, even in modern day, for people to eat brains. And it is obviously true that our personal opinions and tastes on the issue are relevant even if we are talking about the diets of humans/proto-humans hundreds of thousands/millions of year ago. We are just supposed to ignore the issues of time and space and taste, and just kind of eyeball the situation, assume our personal cultural tastes are an excellent objective representation of all human (and most primate!) eating behavior across all cultures, throughout all times. And thereby, via the almighty power of using our gut, we can arrive at The Truth.

    Basically, it is the same argument by “well, it sounds right to me, so it’s undeniably true!” that Algis uses as well, in a different arena.

  399. anteprepro says

    (For reference, I’m talking about post 244. It could be that someone else brought up a different “raw oyster” argument that I missed)

  400. Jesper Anderson says

    I’m a frequent lurker at Pharyngula and enjoy the posts and the comments very much. I always learn a lot from the back and forths going on here, and find a lot of reading material in the linked studies and reports. When I saw that the subject here would be a focused effort to dig out the support for the aquatic ape hypothesis I was thrilled – it’s something I have heard about, but never seen any links to studies on. I figured I was in for a treat, will well supported arguments and studies, and credible research backing up a solid hypothesis. Heck, just reading the hypothesis in clear and concrete wording would make me happy I woke up this morning!

    Instead I must admit I find myself not even underwhelmed, but disgusted, by the level of “support” the aquatic ape proponents have put forth. Not even a clear, solid formulation of the hypothesis is to be found, much less any clear boundaries of timescale, proposed mechanisms or ways to disprove the hypothesis. In fact, no hypothesis at all is proposed, only an observation which isn’t based on observation (no-one has seen a chimp swim) but is simply taken for granted. It’s really horrible. Worse even than Dembski and Behe, who at least provide a framework to place a hypothesis in (even if they then fail to define the parts in that framework).

    And the appeal to the results of PopG betrays a complete lack of understanding of such tools. As a computer scientist I am a novice in these matters, but even a cursory examination of the expected input in the software shows that you can’t just plug in the percentage of time a species spends doing an activity as the fitness. That assumes a 100% advantage of a single allele change in that activity, and that’s clearly absurd. Try a 5% advantage, giving 0.45%*5% and the input becomes a lot more realistic (although still probably WAY too high – 5% advantage from a single allele is tremendously much according to what I’ve gleaned over the years, although it’s still just a made up number). I leave it to the aquatic ape proponents to try the numbers and see what happens.

    Worst of all, instead of supporting arguments I have read comment after comment of self congratulation and exclamations of victory – comments which could instead have contained links to studies confirming that humans swim better than chimps, and that humans armed with sticks and stones can easily handle crocodiles and hippos.

    In summary, I leave this thread convinced there is nothing to the aquatic ape hypothesis. Indeed, I leave it convinced there isn’t even a coherent aquatic ape hypothesis. Thank you for the illuminating insight into the shallow depths of yet another case of pseudoscience.

  401. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    I have to say, I’m deeply disappointed with the scientific ability of my own species. Here and elsewhere I see professional academics succombing to a complete lack of weighing the many hypotheses on why humans differ so greatly from the other great apes. A complete lack of acknowledging how the aquatic ideas are much better supported by observations of convergent evolution, when faced with gaps of evidence, which plague all these hypotheses, wet or dry.

    It is correct, there is no one aquatic hypothesis in these matters. Proponents disagree on weighing of details. Exactly like Darwin and Wallace disagreed on the details. Or Dart and Leakey. Or Galileo and Kepler.

    I’ve “peddled” the theory of the rise of human encephalization being instigated by a change in diet to seafood (which is not my idea), and I’ve presented the reasons for considering this as best as I can. I’ve made the case, that instead of our ancestors having to find brain-specific DHA, AA and iodine micronutrients from up to three different terrestrial food groups, it’s much more parsimonous that they found it in just the wet one. And yet people won’t even give it that. People here line up in droves to argue special pleading for why they must have found it somewheres else and water had nothing to do with it. That is not parsimony as I was taught it, armchair scientist or no.

    I’m raised by my country’s schooling system and popular science to have faith in Academia and its wielding of the scientific method. And here, I see Academia thoroughly betray its own method. At the least, there’s no sense what so ever in the fierce rejection of the idea of water having played an influence in human evolution, not when faced with the observations listed here and elsewhere, and especially not faced with the comparitively really thin dry ideas that mainstream have no problem pursuing. As soon as the idea gets wet, they fret.

    Only one thing makes sense. The damnation of a Welsh amateur scientist, who picked up on an idea the mainstream overlooked. Some silly commoner arguing against the dominant gorillas of a scientific field. And made land marks in the process. How dare she?

    I have to say, that with the current status of these aquatic ideas, that is disgusting. Psychologically, we have not moved a single step since Copernicus.

    That humans are old beach apes is still not an unreasonable idea. No more than than the idea of floating continents, or that humans derive from Africa and not good ol’ Europe, or that our world is not the center of the universe. Great ideas from the past, that illustrate that mainstream science can and do get it wrong, and are willing to throw anyone inconvenient on to the physical or spritual bonfire. Who cares, what makes sense?

    This must be what Phillip Tobias meant, when he in one of the last papers of his life talked about the stigmatization of water in human evolution. And people still refuse to listen. Against such creationist-like pigheadedness, there’s nothing to do. We are not the peak of evolution.

  402. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’ve “peddled” the theory of the rise of human encephalization being instigated by a change in diet to seafood (which is not my idea), and I’ve presented the reasons for considering this as best as I can.

    AND THEY’RE INADEQUATE. GROW THE FUCK UP AND MOVE ON.

    This masturbatory blithering about how the fact that people point out that you fail to make a convincing case for your specific claims, means that they’re dogmatically refusing to consider the general category of claims it belongs to is infantile, embarrassing, true approximately never, and a smoking gun for kookery.

    Let your “theory” simply die on the strength of the evidence; there’s no reason to desecrate its corpse by throwing a fucking five year old’s tantrum on top of it.

  403. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    If you say so, Urban.

    I’m sorry, I do see strong analogies between this and that thing in 1633.

  404. vaiyt says

    A lot of people like raw oysters.

    That still doesn’t tell us anything about what our ancestors used to eat.

  405. Jesper Anderson says

    CHE, the core of “that thing in 1633″ was that it was evidence which then lead to a conclusion. Not a dogmatic idea to which evidence was then hammered to fit. Rather the opposite of what is happening here.

    If there is evidence that humans swim better than chimps, that water predators are not a credible threat and that hominids went to sea to find nutrients which are plentiful on land then present that. After that you have a case, and you can start arguing that your evidence is not accepted. But right now you’ve got nothing but an idea, and that isn’t what “that thing in 1633″ was about. It was centered on evidence.

    And that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  406. sawells says

    Re. the comment that there isn’t actually a hypothesis, just the conviction that there’s a hypothesis:

    I think the comparison with the discovery of Tiktaalik is illuminating. In that case there was a specific evolutionary hypothesis about the transition from water to land in vertebrates, which gave rise to a prediction: that fossils of a creature with a specific set of transitional features (e.g. mobile neck, weightbearing forefins) would be found in sediments of a particular origin (shallow-water depositional environment) and of a particular age (Late Devonian circa 375 million years ago). This led to digs in a specific region with rocks of that type and age, and to the discovery of the predicted fossil.

    So if there actually is a “River Ape” hypothesis that protohominids were living in specific river environments at a specific time and doing wading and becoming obligate bipeds, there should be a prediction of where to look for the bits. And there should be an explanation for where and when all the _other_ hominid fossils, which actually exist, are found.

  407. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    434. Jesper Anderson: CHE, the core of “that thing in 1633″ was that it was evidence which then lead to a conclusion. Not a dogmatic idea to which evidence was then hammered to fit. Rather the opposite of what is happening here.
    If there is evidence that humans swim better than chimps, that water predators are not a credible threat and that hominids went to sea to find nutrients which are plentiful on land then present that.


    But they are not plentiful on land, that’s at the very core of this argument. I am sorry, but you just lived up to your own definition. “A dogmatic idea to which evidence is then hammered to fit.” In this case a dogmatic idea about humans being purely terrestrial apes through its entire evolution.
    -

  408. Jesper Anderson says

    What, exactly, isn’t plentiful on land? The nutrients in question can be found in brains, if I understand correctly. Are you arguing there is a lack of prey animals with brains on land? Or are you arguing that a hominid is incapable of opening a skull to get at the nutrients in it? Both of these arguments are dead in the water. What, then, is your argument that the plentiful food on land is discarded in favor of the considerable dangers of the waterline?

  409. vaiyt says

    Galileo gambits are so fucking boring. The kookery changes, but the faulty reasoning remains the same. “So-and-so scientist was rejected and laughed at but eventually proved right – therefore, if I am rejected and laughed at as well, that means I am right!”. All these theories – heliocentrism, continental drift, evolution – were vindicated by EVIDENCE. Buckets of it. In the case of continental drift, specifically, scientists who were AGAINST the idea did the science, did the math, and found out it was true.

    What’s with kooks and their insistence that academia is an impenetrable cult of closed-minded dogmatists? In the years since I could first read about science, I saw dinosaurs come from dumb lumbering lizards to proto-birds with feathers; I saw the secrets on how the brain creates the mind get unveiled, challenging the still extremely popular mind-body dualism; I saw string theory, with its mathematical elegance, receive the benefit of the doubt from physicists and then get discredited as the Standard Model was refined; most importantly, I saw the history of human origins get rewritten a number of times as new discoveries showed the complexity of our ancestry. When you factor in that, in fact, the science on human origins is in constant progress, all this bawww’ing about academic dogmatism starts to sound like a persecution complex.

  410. Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht says

    435. sawells: So if there actually is a “River Ape” hypothesis that protohominids were living in specific river environments at a specific time and doing wading and becoming obligate bipeds, there should be a prediction of where to look for the bits. And there should be an explanation for where and when all the _other_ hominid fossils, which actually exist, are found.


    Algis argues for a two-part human evolution. First “river apes,” then “coastal people,” he calls it.

    To quote Algis:
    River apes: Wading-Climbing Bipedalism – ca 10-5Ma
    Coastal people: Striding, efficient, obligate bipedalism ca 2.5Ma
    Everything else… more recent, peaking at ca 200Ka with modern Homo sapiens.

    As I understand his works, he bases this solely on the known fossil archive, the locations of the specimens through time. Adding Cunnane et al’s studies of brain-specific micronutrients, which suggests a transition from fresh water (low in especially DHA and iodine) to salt water habitats (high in DHA and iodine), then triggering the rise in encephalization, through increased access to DHA, AA and iodine through seafood, e.g. molluscs … this would support Algis’ timeline. Bipedalism evolved first in freshwater (e.g. with Sahel. 7mya), encephalization later in salt water (Homo 2mya).

    Just abstracting. Now that this thread is drawing to a close.
    -

  411. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    CHE, it has already been shown, with fossil, genetic and isotopic evidence, that the nutrients actually are plentiful on land. The evidence shows that populations of hominids did, indeed, live on land, away from the sea. And populations of modern humans manage to get all the nutrients necessary for our even larger brains from purely terrestrial foods, too. No hammering of evidence necessary.

    Continuing to assert that they aren’t plentiful, in defiance of the evidence, without providing any counter-evidence that might support your assertion, makes your comments look just like those of creationists.

    Adding a straw-man version of your opponents’ argument adds to the creationist vibe:

    In this case a dogmatic idea about humans being purely terrestrial apes through its entire evolution.

    Who has argued that?! It has been acknowledged that seafood has indeed been eaten by our ancestors, the dates have even been given! And, guess what? Those dates don’t fit the idea that seafood was a necessary stage in the development of our big brains because they are far too late – long after the development of those very brains for which you suggest seafood is necessary.

    This is all stuff I’ve learned by reading every comment in every thread on this subject, and following the links.

    I suggest that could be a worthwhile strategy for you to adopt, too. You might learn something. And find out why some of us are getting exasperated.

  412. okstop says

    @Tigger (#420):

    Technically, I suppose I am wasting a post by saying that you bring up an excellent point, but with fewer than 100 posts ’til midnight (as it were), I don’t see the Damp, Dirty Apes (that stay crunchy in milk!) having a breakthrough. I don’t begrudge the people making the substantive arguments, but I think it’s amusing that while Algis is willing to swing wildly at the substantive issues, he just can’t COMPUTE the formal ones… which stands to reason, because if he could, he wouldn’t be make the substantive “arguments” he makes. But you’re right – there’s a definite benefit to those other than your interlocutor to these kinds of arguments.

  413. vaiyt says

    But they are not plentiful on land

    As long as you hand away the most obvious source. Apes can break shells with a stone but they can’t do the same with skulls?

  414. lochaber says

    So, I just started reading Mary Roach’s ‘Gulp.: adventures on the alimentary canal’ (amusing as fuck, like all her other stuff…), and pretty early on, she has a bit where she is talking to some Inuits about eating various organ meats, and it seems to be a pretty common thing amongst hunters. If you aren’t going to use the brains for, say, tanning the hide (which happened much later then, say, bipedalism, or our big (if not always working) brains), then why not eat them? -plus, as pointed out way the fuck above, if humans didn’t eat brains, why does kuru exist?

    Plus, I don’t quite get how so many human cultures can exist without coastal foods, and still seem to reach adulthood and prosper if seafood is the only source for certain nutrients? Why would we (as a species) need those nutrients for development, but not sustenance of certain traits. Even so, I don’t see what’s wrong with antelope (or whatever) brains – wasn’t there a recent paper making the rounds about early humans cracking skulls to eat brains, anyways?

    I first heard of the aquatic ape bit a few years ago, and while I thought it was sorta interesting to think about, I couldn’t really see any good reason for supporting the idea. Eh, I think it’s good to sort of tease out multiple lines of thought or whatever, but if something isn’t holding up under scrutiny, or doesn’t match the evidence, there are better ways to spend your time/effort.

  415. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have to say, I’m deeply disappointed with the scientific ability of my own species.

    Start with being disappointed with you lack of scientific ability. You suck at science, just as any soggy ape proponent does. All conjecture and presupposition, love for the idea, with vain attempts for evidential support. Humans have no problem developing brains if they don’t live near the sea. That should tell you everything you need to know about your conjecture.

  416. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Algis

    You do not appear to have responded to my request for geological and palaeontological evidence to support your theory of our anscestors evolving in a periodically flooding forest. Please do so.

    The argument was for half an hour’s swimming (not wading) per week (rather than zero) having an affect on our ancestors’ phenotype. Crazy, right? I mean, it’s ludicrous to imagine that that would result in a differential in selection, or that the variation in populations would, over several million years, be selected in any way to reflect the slightest adaptation.

    It is ludicrous because it makes it appear as if you don’t appear to understand how evolution works. You don’t just magically gain adaptations for water by being in water for some small period of time each week. You get them because water presents different dangers to land. Some individuals will have characteristics which give them a minor advantage over their fellows when it comes to avoiding or overcoming these dangers. Those without this slight advantage are killed or die, allowing those with the adaptations to outbreed those without, leading to a preponderance of the genes resonsible for said adaptations within the population. Right?

    So, the main dangers of water, as I see it, are drowning and waterborne predators. So what adaptations do humans have to avoid drowning? Point them out. Explain how they work. When did we develop them? Can you point to the gene responsible? In order to escape waterborne predators, we would presumably need to swim fast. What adaptations do we have which would allow us to swim fast? Point them out. Explain how they work. When did we develop them? Can you point to the gene responsible?

    If you believe that modern humans only have vestigial aquatic traits left over from more aquatic anscestors, a hypothesis you have previously alluded to, then which of our anscestors had the fully fledged traits? Provide evidence they had these traits. Then propose a hypothesis as to why our lifestyle changed and these traits began to die out.

    You keep saying that humans swim better than chimps but have yet to explain why that is. “We had an aquatic anscestor” is not a scientific explanation. We want details. Provide them. So far you have given us the bare bones of a potentially interesting hypothesis, and just expected us to believe you. Flesh it out a bit. Details. Evidence. I do think your hypothesis is interesting, but you have yet to provide anything which convinces me that you are right. Interesting =/= true.

  417. sawells says

    It’s ironic, in the context of accusations that science is closed-minded about human origins, that the original AAH was formed when little was known about how humans related to the other apes – we were supposed to be the out-group to the gorilla/chimp/orang clade, leaving a big shadowy tens of millions of years for us to be dolphins in.

    It’s surprisingly recently that the genetic information came in and everyone got their minds blown – it turns out that the cladistics go (((Human, chimp), gorilla), orangutan). We aren’t the outgroup. And people changed their minds on that because of _evidence_.

  418. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What I find ironic is that the charges of science being closed minded come from those with closed minds. Who are presuppositional in their thinking, and don’t follow the evidence. Folks fall in love with an idea because it appeals to them for any number of reasons, including they see themselves as rebels against orthodoxy. The trouble is, they are so selective with the evidence they think supports their ideas, they ignore the vast body of evidence that says their idea doesn’t hold water. As with CHE and his brain nutrient idea. The totality of the evidence refutes his idea.

  419. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Galileo gambits are so fucking boring. The kookery changes, but the faulty reasoning remains the same. “So-and-so scientist was rejected and laughed at but eventually proved right – therefore, if I am rejected and laughed at as well, that means I am right!”. All these theories – heliocentrism, continental drift, evolution – were vindicated by EVIDENCE. Buckets of it. In the case of continental drift, specifically, scientists who were AGAINST the idea did the science, did the math, and found out it was true.

    They laughed at Bozo the Clown too.

  420. Ogvorbis says

    I’m sorry, I do see strong analogies between this and that thing in 1633.

    Seriously? The Galileo Gambit? I really wish that those who used this gambit understood what happened. Galileo was not tried because of his ideas. He wrote a book in which there was a discussion between a character named Simpleton and another philosopher. He gave Simpleton dialogue taken directly from the natural history writings of the current Pope. And published it in Italian so that everyone in Italy would know that he was calling the Pope a simpleton. Heliocentrism was the ostensible reason for the trial; pissing off the powers that be (while insisting that he, and only he, had the one true answer (and he got the math really wrong!)) was the actual reason.

    Actually, the Galileo Gambit is partially appropriate for both of our AAHists — Galileo was so sure that he was the only one who could possibly be right that he burned lots of bridges and pissed off even his possible supporters while screwing up the math and theory (the only thing he got right was that the sun was in the center).

  421. Amphiox says

    They laughed at Bozo the Clown too.

    Every generation produces 1, maybe two, Galileos.

    Every generation produces tens of thousands of Bozo the Clowns.

    To even cite Galileo in these circumstances is an example of confirmation bias.

    Also, Galileo faced real persecution and even the threat of death. To equate that with being scoffed at or mocked on an internet blog, where they remain 100% free to come and go as they please, is frankly, disgusting.

  422. algiskuliukas says

    So, as I was saying this morning, anyone making creationist slurs against proponents of these ideas this are demonstrating the most incredible lack of ability to discriminate between the entirely plausible and the totally stupid.

    How could this happen? How can people (especially ones who pride themselves on being hard nosed skeptics) be so stupid as to get two such different ideas muddled up?

    a) The idea that some (perhaps only slight) natural selection from wading, swimming and diving was responsible for the remarkable phenotypic divergence between humans and chimpanzees since their last common ancestor approx 5Ma.

    and

    b) The idea that the entire universe was created – just for us – in six days.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Plausible
    a) Is plausible. Humans do swim and dive better than chimps. When you place chimps in waist deep water, they do move (not just pose momentarilty) bipedally – and will continue to do so as long as the conditions prevail. East Africa, where early humans are known to have evolved, did become drier, causing forests to shrink closer to seasonally flooded gallery forest refugia, such as wetlands, rivers and lakes. It is entirely plausible that our ancestors would have clung to such refugua, rather than try to compete out on the open plains against other mammals long adapted to such places. The vast majority of fossil evidence does place our early ancestors close to such places. As rivers lead to the sea, it is entirely plausible that such hominins would have eventually found themselves by the coasts. Coastal habitats do have reliable sources of food, relatively few competitors and relatively few predators. There is unequivocal evidence that modern Homo sapiens procured such food about 164 (+-12) Ka. It is entirely plausible that this kind of food procurement could have been going on for 50Ka before that. There is not one tiny bit of this “story” that is inconsistent with any piece of science known. There is not one bit of evidence that contradicts any part of it. It is true that there is currently a lack of unequivocally supporting evidence, but which idea about human evolution is that not equally true of?

    Stupid
    b) Is one of the most stupid ideas ever conceived of. It goes against every piece of scientific evidence we have about anything. Any child that knows a little science could list evidence that controverts it and there is not one tiny bit of evidence that supports it. I became an atheist at eight years old because I could see this. The idea is the very antithesis of Darwinian natural selection whereas I consider myself a neo-Darwinist along the lines of Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris and (the late) Stephen Hitchens.

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    How is it possible to muddle these up?
    One might understand and forgive these people for getting muddled by the polished, slick efforts of multi-million dollar pseudoscientific organizations, determined to try to look scientific, compared to the real efforts of individual amateurs like me trying to do some science in areas that are just not mainstream – but maybe that’s being too generous. There seems to be a real group think nastiness and determination to slur here that’s hard to fathom.

    Take Amphiox’s post #416. He’s like the leader of a lynch mob, whipping everyone up before the poor guy is strung up.

    He does Gish Gallops, like a creationist

    What the hell is a “Gish Gallop”? You even invent own language to justify your group think sneering. Just because some creationist used such tactic once, you think that makes anyone you want to tar with that brush fair game for the same slur, does it?

    The “Gish gallop” post (#32), if anyone cares to remember, was a direct response to a post (#14) from “Tigger”, which specifically asked “aquatic ape fans” five detailed questions, which I then answered.

    Talk about misreresenting an argument. This takes the biscuit. Because it was started by the chief of hostility himself, you all nod and follow along like sheep.

    Tell you what: If my post #32 was a “gish gallop”, so is Amphiox’s post #416.

    He moves the goalposts, like a creationist

    Liar. I do not move the goalposts – you have repeatedly misrepresented my argument, despite me pointing it out again and again.

    In practically every post, from the beginning, you have (I can only suspect deliberately) conflated my (early) wading arguments with my (later) swimming ones, to make them seem illogical to the other members of PZ’s fan club, people who seem to lack the wit and/or desire to actually read and understand something as simple as “River Apes … Coastal People”.

    He repeats already-refuted points ad nauseum while ignoring the prior refutation, like a creationist

    You are confusing “refuted” (i.e. proving something is wrong) with “contradict” (i.e. disagreeing with something.)

    Please point out one thing I have written that you think you have “disproved”. I know you have contradicted a lot of what I’ve written but that is not the same thing, is it?

    He presupposes his claims, like a creationist.

    No I don’t. I heard about the idea and thought it sounded reasonable. Hardy made observations and came up with an hypothesis to explain them. I read a lot of critical stuff against the idea and thought it was rather weak. Specifically, it seemed to me that the idea was being deliberately exaggerated. I found out that, if the ideas were scaled back to a lower bound, and the timescale shifted to fit the now known evidence, there was no good argument that contradicted it, and it seemed to fit the facts better.

    Most importantly, I realised that despite the overbearing, self-righteous confidence of defenders of the faith that this idea must be rubbish – almost no propoer science had ever been done to test it. So, silly me, I tried to do some. I returned to academia, got a masters degree, did new empirical research, presented it at conferences and got it published. Isn’t this what one is supposed to do?

    How do you imagine that this train of thought is “like creationism”?

    I’ve stated many times some simple, as yet unknown, facts that would cause me to drop the idea. How many people “like creationists” have done that, and if any have, tell me – what was the test? Did it get done? and did they drop the idea afterwards?

    He approaches an argument as if he was trying to convince (convert) people, rather than demonstrate the validity of ideas, like many creationists

    “Convince” is fair. “Convert” isn’t. I am trying to convince people who are very skeptical about this idea that they have been wrong to sneer at it. I am trying to convince people that bracketing simple, plausible, entirely Darwinian ideas with creationism is stupid and ignorant. All I ask is that more science be done – again, is that what you think creationists are doing?

    This attempt to convince about the plausibility of the idea is not mutually exclusive to the other. The validity of the ideas, or otherwise, will come when more science has been done. I’ve tried to do my bit there – the first stuides on the wading hypothesis in 50 years. The first pro waterside presentation at AAPA ever, as far as I know.

    Instead of welcoming some attempt at science, all you do is sneer like an ignorant mob.

    That’s why we say he is like a creationist, and we don’t say he is a creationist.

    Wow. Big concession!

    Thanks, Amphiox. You don;’t actually say I am a creationist.

    That must have taken a lot of guts. How big of you!

    If you find it so difficult to disciminate between these two ideas, and what I’ve tried to do to argue in favour one of them compared to what a multi-million dollar movement supported by 40% of the US population has done to favour the other, then I think you’re a bit of a simpleton.

    Think a bit!

    Learn to

    d i s c r i m i n a t e.

    Algis Kuliukas

  423. Amphiox says

    You keep saying that humans swim better than chimps but have yet to explain why that is. “We had an aquatic anscestor” is not a scientific explanation. We want details. Provide them.

    Details such as the ones provided by the legitimate researchers who investigated why humans throw better than chimps.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/06/26/how-humans-evolved-to-throw-a-fastball/#.UdQVhz5C5C8

    Details like the specific anatomical changes, quantification of the functional differences with real measured numbers, experimental controls that eliminate the effect of human culture, reference to the fossil record for the specifics of the anatomy. And so forth.

  424. Amphiox says

    I see Algis continues to behave like a creationist even as he clumsily tries to deny it.

    Complaining about “slurs” while evading the real reason for the objections is standard creationist behavior.

    It is quite possible for someone to behave like a creationist even if the idea he is arguing for is more reasonable that creationism. The behavior of the individual and the idea that the individual is arguing for are two separate things.

    Feduccia’s BAND idea that dinosaurs descend from a triassic archosaur that was not a dinosaur is not an unreasonable idea. It is entirely consistent with basic evolutionary principles. But the fossils say it is wrong.

    Feduccia has been accused of acting like a creationist NOT because his idea is necessarily like creationism, but because when he argues for it he behaves like a creationist.

    And so it is with Algis.

  425. Amphiox says

    As long as you hand away the most obvious source. Apes can break shells with a stone but they can’t do the same with skulls?

    It is not even a question of “why can’t”. They actually do. This is fact. The smashed skull fossils have been found, in association with early human ancestor sites. Early human ancestors ate brains. Lots of brains.

    And the timing of when we start