Semina qua tic ancestors project

Were our early ancestors more aquatic in the past? The answer should be: 'Yes!

NEDERLANDSE INLEIDING met verwijzing naar casussen

This site is primarily dedicated to renewed ideas about a more aquatic human ancestry of our species.
It is not impossible that our ancestors adapted to shoreline and riverside habitats.
A serious option is in my view possible isolation in very early island settings.


Vanuit dit gezichtspunt beschouwd vormt de drieteenmeeuw een schitterend voorbeeld van de algemene regel dat aanpassing betrekking heeft op het hele dier en niet op een paar afzonderlijke eigenschappen.
Drieteen meeuw (NL) - Kittiwake (EN)  - Rissa tridactyla
….. the Kittiwake presents an excellent example of the general rule,  that adaptation  relates to the  animal as whole and not a few separate  properties.
Niko Tinbergen

In 't vrije veld. Uitgeverij Het Spectrum, Utrecht / Antwerpen 1978  p 263

Unprofessional nonsense or worth serious investigation. In 1960 marine biologist sir Alister Hardy  published the notion that some anatomical and physiological traits of modern man possibly were related to a more aquatic past of human ancestors (1).

Refuted by professional paleoantropolgists it was a few years later popularised by writer and journalist Elaine Morgan.
She was the most imprortant defender this possibility. This was true until her 92 years of age when she left us for ever...

Elaine Morgan
Elaine Morgan

The idea became known as 'The Aquatic Ape Theory' (2).
Discussions are still going on but more accepting is a reality now (2013 conference Human evolution, past, present and future, London ).In 1968 as baccalaureat marine biology (Vrije Universteit, Amsterdam, Holland) I read the collected writings of Carl Ortwin Sauer(3).
An American geographer that I hold forever in high esteem.
He embraced the idea of Hardy based on his own observations of hunting fishing gathering tribes in the Amazons, Tierra Del Fuegoand islands of the Pacific .

He did put forward the idea, that the main route of dispersal of man could very well have been coastlines along continents and big river systems.
An example was the peopling of the Americans along the West coast.
Now (2008) this seems to be proven and recently accepted as very real possibility.
He mentioned that most surviving neolithic human groups were original living along seashores, rivers, lake sides and not on savannas and
not in the jungle.
The savannah and jungle dwellers in his opinion were secondary adapted, forced away from better habitats by dominant intruders
like the Europeans in Australia, the Americas and Tasmania and the Zulu's in Southern Africa).
An example is found in the article Seashore-Primitive Home of Man?
Recently, professor Carsten Niemitz added  important observations to the more or less convincing list of arguments (4).
But once proclaimed heretic, unscientific and not falsifiable it is all still stubbornly rejected.
Savannah theory refuted, shoreline theory plausible
Reading, observing and learning more as professional biologist I used my professional judgment.
Observing human behaviour and peculiarities in his physiological and anatomical properties convinced me that the idea
of a more aquatic very early ancestry made sense.
I never felt at ease with the Savannah theory and some of the scientific ridiculous ideas put forward by professional 'mainstream'
anthropologists and paleoantropolgists.
In the meantime this Savannah idea stemming from Raymond Dart -  anatomist and anthropologist - is not dominant any more.
His influence is still an immanent reason to  repudiate  a possible more semi- aquatic habitat that resulted in  anatomic and physiologic
adaptation for our ancestors.

If you are aware how Alister Hardy  even today still is ridiculed as person you serious have to look into the question he asked.
For me it was immediately the other way around: the Savannah concept is weak, based as it is on dry bones and shattered contexts.
It contradicts the dispersion of Homo sapiens: a minute percentage were and are savannah dwellers. Most of us near rivers,
lakes and coastlines of all continents...
The shoreline concept is based on properties of present day very alive and complete individuals of Homo sapiens.
How we are is the outcome of a long road. Not of 6000 years as most of us stubbornly believe but more then 4 million years.
A lot of  "sidelines" in our ancestral kin were active in this history. Today is is only "WE".
It is a pity we don't have a time machine to beam one of us to a few million of years ago to find out
who's the winner of  know-it-all scientists......
Alister Hardy, Elaine Morgan and Carl Ortwin Sauer had to rely on written material and personal information.
I could fully exploit the advantages of the world wide web, the superhuman "memory" available to us all nowadays and
I was amazed about the wealth of information available (and all the rubbish that is out there also, of course..).
Discussions about "who" is right about the history of bipedal ancestors, what were habitats they had to be adapted to, how long ago,
who were they...

The best compilation about all is "The Evolution of Hominid Bipedalism" of Michael J. Friedman. His article I added in the site.
1. Alister Hardy 1960 "Was Man more aquatic in the past?" New Scientist 7:624
2. Elaine Morgan 1982 "The aquatic ape" (Renewed edition) Souvenir London
3. Carl Ortwin Sauer (1962) Seashore-Primitive Home of Man? Read the e-book excerpt form "Land and Life"   
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 106, pp. 41-47
4. Carsten Niemitz "A Theory on the Evolution of Human Bipedalism - Die Amphibische Generalistentheorie,
   “Das Geheimniss des Aufrechten Ganges”
5. Scott Simpson: A Female Homo erectus Pelvis from Gona, Ethiopia
    Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
    Science, November 14, DOI: 10.1126/science.1163592.

Aquatic adaptation of newborn humans project

Project about baby swimming and t early adaptations concerned.
Project over babyzwemmen en de aanpassingen die zij al vroeg vertonen.

Conference where I present this 10 may:

Human Evolution Past, Present & Future – Anthropological, Medical & Nutritional Considerations
Urchin rock onderwater photography

Het belang van contact dat Darwin met de  Alacaluf van Tierra del Fuego en Patagonie heeft gehad.
The important connection of Charles Darwin with Fuegan and Patagonian Alacaluf during his trip from England to South America.
charles and jemmy
Click to view original drawing © dirk meijers


  Dirk Jan Willem Meijers
  MSc biology oceanography

  Retired teacher and general sciences manager Zuyderzee College
  Personal website