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



Ear exostosis (surfer's ear)

Ear exosostisThe relationship between auditory exostoses and cold water: A latitudinal analysis

GE Kennedy 1986 doi 10.1002/ajpa.1330710403 Am J phys Anthrop 71:401-415

The frequency of auditory exostoses was examined by latitude. It was found that discrete bony lesions of the external auditory canal were, with very few exceptions, either absent or in very low frequency (< 3.0 %) in 0–30° N and S latitudes and above 45°N. The highest frequencies of auditory exostoses were found in the middle latitudes (30–45° N and S) among populations who exploit either marine or fresh water resources. Clinical and experimental data are discussed, and these data are found to support strongly the hypothesis that there is a causative relationship between the formation of auditory exostoses and exploitation of resources in cold water, particularly through diving. It is therefore suggested that since auditory exostoses are behavioral rather than genetic in etiology, they should not be included in estimates of population distance based on nonmetric variables. [1]

Exostoses of the external auditory canal

JR DiBartolomeo 1979
Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 88 Suppl.61:2-20

Exostosis of the external ear canal is a disease unique to man. It has been identified in prehistoric man, affecting the aborigines of the North American continent. Aural exostoses are typically firm, sessile, multinodular bony masses which arise from the tympanic ring of the bony portion of the external auditory canal. These growths develop subsequent to prolonged irritation of the canal. The large, primitive jaw of prehistoric man placed great mechanical stress on the tympanic ring. Chronic aural suppuration seen in the preantibiotic era was soon followed by exostoses. Today, prolonged contact of the external ear canal with cold sea water is the most prevalent cause (aquatic theory). As a result the disease is now essentially limited to coastal regions. In this way we have seen exostoses appear in different stages of the evolution of man as a result of mechanical, chemical and now thermal irritation. The author is an otolaryngologist in a coastal region. In examining 11,000 patients during a ten-year period, 70 cases of symptomatic exostoses of the external auditory canal were identified. The incidence of exostoses was found to be 6.36 per 1,000 patients examined for otolaryngologic disease. It is a predominantly male disease. The development of these "irritation nodules" is painless until the tenth year of aquatic exposure to irritation, when symptoms of obstruction occur. The hearing loss associated with exostoses is usually a conductive type, secondary to occlusion of the canal by impacted cerumen or acute external otitis. The results of studying the thermal characteristics of the body of water used for such aquatic activities is presented. [2]

Ancient human genome from southern Africa throws light on our origins ― Garvan Institute of Medical Research

What can DNA from the skeleton of a man who lived 2,330 years ago in the southern-most tip of Africa tell us about ourselves as humans?
Seafood diet: The complete 1.5-metre tall skeleton was examined by Alan Morris (biol.anthrop. Univ.Cape Town). Morris showed that the man was a "marine forager". A bony growth in his ear canal (surfer's ear) suggested that he spent some time diving for food in the cold coastal waters, while shells carbon-dated to the same period, and found near his grave, confirmed his seafood diet. Osteoarthritis & tooth wear placed him in his fifties.[3]


Comment by Marc Verhaegen (AAT discussion group 30.9.14):
Thanks a lot, this confirms that still recently a lot of humans dived regularly for seafood. It doesn't mean that our aquatic adaptations ("AAT") were late-Pleistocene: AFAWK typically littoral features in Homo are apparently early-Pleistocene: coastal sites + marine shells, almost world-wide coastal dispersal, drastic brain enlargement, pachy-osteo-sclerosis, external nose, platycephaly (long & flat skull-caps), platymeria (dorso-ventrally flattened femora) etc. Many male neandertals had extensive & bilateral ear exostoses. This is sometimes used as an anti-AAT argument: "If they had been regular divers, they hadn't had these 'diseases'", but it only suggests they regularly dived in colder waters.

"New evidence that Neanderthals got surfer’s ear suggests our extinct relatives spent a lot of time in the water. They probably weren’t catching sick waves, but instead they were perhaps hunting fish, mollusks or other marine resources, a new study in the journal PLOS One shows."

See also:

"Aural exostoses (surfer's ear) provide vital fossil evidence of an aquatic phase in Man's early evolution."
PH Rhys Evans, M Cameron [pdf]

Website: F. Mansfield, 2015

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