Aquatic Ape Human Ancestor Theory

Aquatic Ape Theory - What is it?

A Brief Summary of AAT - key arguments

A Brief History and Key Proponents of AAT

When / Where / How?

Ape to Human Evolution Timeline

Alternative theories of human evolution

Wikipedia and the scientific community

... Anatomical Evidence
... Bipedalism
... Birth and babies
... Brain
... Breath control
... Descended larynx
... Diet
... Diseases
... Fat
... Fingers, toes and feet
... Furlessness
... Hair and baldness
... Human ailments
... Kidneys
... Language & Song
... Menopause
... Nose
... Olfactory sense
... Pachyostosis
... Paranasal Sinuses
... Platycephaly
... Reverse osmosis
... Sexual features
... Sleep (USWS)
... Surfer's ear
... Sweating
... Tears
... Underwater vision
... Viruses
... Waterside environments

. Homo Ancestors
... Trachillos bipedal hominids
... Homo erectus
... Homo neanderthalensis
... Sea Gypsies/ the Moken
... Homo sapiens - water afinity
... Coastal Migration
... Pan and Gorilla ancestry
... Semi-Aquatic Animals

. Testable Hypotheses
. Fossil evidence
. Genetic evidence
. Paleoecological evidence
. Retroviral marker in apes
. Acheulean handaxes

A call to scientists...

Recent News and Updates

Books and publications


Videos links




M. J. B. Verhaegen    Medical Hypotheses 24: 293-300 (1987)

The Aquatic Ape Theory claims that human ancestors once lived in a semi-aquatic habitat. Some human diseases might be explained by our aquatic past. Such problems include hyperventilation, periodic breathing, laryngo- and bronchospasm, vasomotor rhinopathy, seborrhea, dandruff, male pattern alopecia, rhinophyma, osteoarthritis, inguinal hernias, varicose veins, common obesity, myopia, and ear-wax.

Key words

            Cheyne-Stokes, Pickwickian syndrome, sleep apnea syndrome, SIDS, asthma, allergy, schistozomiasis, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea.


            According to Sir Alister Hardy’s Aquatic Ape Theory (1), our ancestors a few million years ago spent a lot of time swimming and diving. Present-day humans have many rudimentary characteristics that support Hardy’s theory (1-12). It is conceivable that some diseases may find their origins in our aquatic past. Such “ex-aquatic” diseases must be: almost uniquely human (absent from most non-human primates); largely hereditary (often polygenetic); and usually not very harmful. (Objections against diseases being selected for are answered by Dawkins (13): “A certain amount of bad bodies seems to be an almost inevitable consequence of selection for good genes, where good refers to the average effects of a gene on a statistical sample of bodies in which it finds itself permuted with other genes”.)



  1. Hardy A. Was man more aquatic in the past? New Scientist 7: 642, 1960.
  2. Morgan E. The descent of woman. Souvenir, London, 1972.
  3. ---. The aquatic ape. Souvenir, London, 1982.
  4. ---. The aquatic hypothesis. New Scientist 1405: 17, 1984.
  5. ---. Sweaty old man and the sea. New Scientist 1448: 27, 1985.
  6. ---, Verhaegen MJB. In the beginning was the water. New Scientist 1498: 62, 1986.
  7. Morris D. ch 1 in The naked ape. Cape, London, 1967.
  8. ---. ch 58 in Man-watching. Cape, London, 1977.
  9. Cunnane SC. The aquatic ape theory reconsidered. Medical Hypotheses 6: 49, 1980.
  10. Gribbin J, Cherfas J. p 163 in The monkey puzzle. Paladin, London, 1983.
  11. Verhaegen MJB. The aquatic ape theory: evidence and a possible scenario. Medical Hypotheses 16: 17, 1985.
  12. Ellis DV. Proboscis monkey and aquatic ape. Sarawak Museum Journal in press.
  13. Dawkins R. p 52 in The extended phenotype. Oxford University Press, New York, 1983.


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