Kuliukas, AV Removing the “hermetic seal” from the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis: Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution. Advances in Anthropology 4:164-167, (2014).
The current (March/April 2014) issue of Evolutionary Anthropology is rare in that it contains two papers specifically critiquing the so-called “aquatic ape hypothesis” (abbreviated “AAH”, but better labelled, in the plural, “waterside hypotheses of human evolution.”). The first (Foley & Lahr, 2014) is a general assessment of the authors’ interpretation of the AAH and the second (Rae & Koppe, 2014) is a particular rebuttal of one specific idea—the sinuses for floatation hypothesis. This short paper is a response to both. It is argued that the first uses a straw man’s argument to characterize the so-called “AAH” as arguing for exclusively more aquatic adaptations than waterside proponents have in the past. Foley & Lahr’s paper is also unscholarly in that it does not draw upon the latest scholarly work. One chapter of that work re-defines and re-labels the “AAH”, which was of key importance to their paper. Rae & Koppe’s paper is harder to criticize but still contains some problems which the authors overlook in their strict rejection of the sinuses for floatation hypothesis. If one understands that waterside hypotheses of human evolution are simply postulating that major phenotypic differences between humans and chimps are the result of a (perhaps slight) differential in the selection from wading, swimming and diving, they cannot be ridiculed as belonging in the same “crazy box” as creationism as Henry Gee recently argued and must take their place within mainstream physical anthropology.