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...

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Trachillos: 5.7 million year old bipedal footprints from Crete

The Trachillos footprints found in Crete and dating to approximately 5.7 million years ago, from around the time of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) when the Mediterranean Sea completely dried up and Crete was still connected to the Greek mainland, appear to be the oldest hominin footprints ever found and they completely change everthing paleoanthropologists have believed about the origins of human evolution.

The footprints lacked claws, were pentadactyl and clearly bipedal. [1] They have an unmistakably human-like form, especially the toes. The big toe is similar to our own in shape, size and position; it is also associated with a distinct ‘ball’ on the sole, which is never present in apes. In short, the shape of the Trachilos footprints indicates unambiguously that they belong to an early hominin.

Trachillos footprints

It has been proposed that the footprints may have been left behind by Graecopithecus, a European ape/homin from the late Miocene that is known from only a couple of jaw and teeth fossils found in Greece and Bulgaria and dated to 8-7 million years ago. As no fossil has been found of their anatomy lower than the neck, it is not possible to know what their feet looked like, but there is evidence to suggest it was probably bipedal and may have been a direct human ancestor. [2]

Gerard Gerlinski discovered the footprints by accident while on holiday in Crete in 2002. Since their discovery they have caused a sensation in the scientific world, because they seriously challenge all previous hypotheses of human evolution, which places our ancestors firmly in Africa and several million years later. What on earth is a fully upright, bipedal hominid, with flat plantigrade feet, much like ours, doing in the Greek islands at a time when paleontologists, busy unearthing fossils in Africa, would have our ancestors not quite even at the bipedal stage and on a completely different continent?

Gerlinski spent several years trying to publish the findings but was consistently rejected by peers, who could offer no serious criticism other than 'wrong time, wrong place'. They put forward various reasons why the discovery should not be published. Clearly the dates were wrong, obviously they weren't made by hominids and other such accusations were made. But when the results came back from the lab, and it was clear that the dates could not be disputed and that they were clearly made by bipedal hominids, they reverted to the other reaction commonly used by scientists when they don't like the evidence - they ignored it. And that's why you probably have never heard about the Trachillos footprints.

“What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints,” said senior author Professor Per Erik Ahlberg, of Uppsala University.

“The Trachilos footprints are younger than the oldest known fossil hominin, Sahelanthropus from Chad, and contemporary with Orrorin from Kenya, but more than a million years older than Ardipithecus ramidus with its ape-like feet.”

“This conflicts with the hypothesis that Ardipithecus is a direct ancestor of later hominins.”

“Furthermore, until this year, all fossil hominins older than 1.8 million years (the age of early Homo fossils from Georgia) came from Africa, leading most researchers to conclude that this was where the group evolved,” the researchers said.

“However, the Trachilos footprints are securely dated using a combination of foraminifera from over- and underlying beds, plus the fact that they lie just below a very distinctive sedimentary rock formed when the Mediterranean sea briefly dried out, 5.6 million years ago.” [3]

Whether the footprints were left by homo ancestors or by some other species following a convergent evolution to ours, I believe they were clearly made by a semi-aquatic, swimming hominid, whose bipedal stance and flat flipper like feet, like ours, evolved for a dual purpose: swimming and wading or walking on sand; certainly not for climbing or running.

In fact, the presence of swimming hominids in Europe during the Miocene clearly ties in with an alternative scenario of human evolution, one that begins around the drying Mediterranean coasts in the late Miocene and leads to Homo erectus, a fully littoral diving ancestor in the Pleistocene, around the south Asian and Indonesian coasts.

The fact that this evidence upsets the prevailing African hypotheses, does not bother me at all, as I do not believe that ardipithecus, australopithecus or any other African fossil hominins prior to Homo habilis / erectus was a human ancestor, but instead they were all ancestors of chimpanzees and gorilla. No wonder this discovery upsets a lot of apple carts!

Hominin fossil footprints from Trachillos, Crete
5.7 million year old fossilised bipedal hominin footprints from Trachillos, Crete.

Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete?


We describe late Miocene tetrapod footprints (tracks) from the Trachilos locality in western Crete (Greece), which show hominin-like characteristics. They occur in an emergent horizon within an otherwise marginal marine succession of Messinian age (latest Miocene), dated to approximately 5.7 Ma (million years), just prior to the Messinian Salinity Crisis. The tracks indicate that the trackmaker lacked claws, and was bipedal, plantigrade, pentadactyl and strongly entaxonic. The impression of the large and non-divergent first digit (hallux) has a narrow neck and bulbous asymmetrical distal pad. The lateral digit impressions become progressively smaller so that the digital region as a whole is strongly asymmetrical. A large, rounded ball impression is associated with the hallux. Morphometric analysis shows the footprints to have outlines that are distinct from modern non-hominin primates and resemble those of hominins. The interpretation of these footprints is potentially controversial. The print morphology suggests that the trackmaker was a basal member of the clade Hominini, but as Crete is some distance outside the known geographical range of pre-Pleistocene hominins we must also entertain the possibility that they represent a hitherto unknown late Miocene primate that convergently evolved human-like foot anatomy. [3]

Trahillos footprints compared to other species and humans

Comparison of Trachilos footprint with bears (top), non-hominin primates (middle), and hominins (bottom). (a) Brown bear (b) Grizzly bear (c) Vervet monkey (d) Lowland gorilla (e) chimpanzee. (f) modern human (g) Trachilos footprint (h) modern human foot (i) Archaic Homo footprint. Pictures: Gerard D. Gierliński et al / Elsevier [4]

One hell of an impression

During a Greek holiday in 2002, a Polish paleontologist found what he thinks are the oldest human-like footprints in the world. Thus began a vicious fight over a discovery that raises new questions about our evolution.

By Emily Chung
February 23, 2018

Gerard Gierlinski’s trip to the Greek island of Crete in 2002 was meant to be a romantic getaway for him and his girlfriend. But it ended up becoming considerably more momentous than that — leading to a discovery that could dramatically alter the story of the human race.

Read article... [5]

Comments (email) on the validity of the evidence by Alan Vanarsdale, author of 'Human Fossil Record and Classification' (Books)

"No professional ichnopaleontologist would agree these are not mammal tracks. The problem here is that without considerale field and literature training most people do not understand ichnofossils as the discoverer of these tracks do and the publishers do. They have asked for an opinion as to what type of primate tracks these are and I gave it in my 2020 book. These are hominin tracks.

Ardipithecus has the toe pointing to the side thus has a great ape not a hominin foot, though may well be a proto hominin mosaic of great apes and hominins. These are the oldest known Hominid feet with the big toes (hallux) in line with the other toes. Thus, at 5.7 million years and and very reliably dated (for anyone who has a decent understanding of how to date such things in this type of strata), are the oldest confirmed hominin feet known.

The remarkable ignorance demonstrated by Western paleoanthropology about these very important fossils is a clear demonstration changes need to be made, such as in the poor standards of education regarding ichnopaleontology for the PhD in paleoanthropology. Considerable harm was done to global paleoanthropology study by delaying the publication of these for three years (ultimately they had to be published in a geology journal where such ignorant standards of peer review are not prevalent unlike in paleoanthropology).

I am convinced as published multiple times Graecopithecus is a likely hominin. However, we have no way to know if Graecopithecus had a great ape or a hominin foot morphology in the position of the hallux being in line with the other toes.

These tracks give a very good window into band structure and morphological variation including sexual dimorphism of these very early hominins. Unfortunately I appear to be the only person who has studied them with any qualification to do so as hominids. Though the authors are quite qualified in ichnopaleontology and correctly have proven their age and the fact that they were made by primates. Ichnopaleontology is not such a difficult study. I am at a loss to understand why Western paleoanthropologists today have so clearly demonstrated universal complete incompetence in the field. If any of them are not incompetent, they have failed to come forward about these important fossils until today. None of them even show any basic knowledge or ichnopaleontology terminology or systematics."

The Trachilos hominin track ways were not made in a marine or any type of aquatic environment. They were made in a subaerial environment proximal to a Bay and a marine environment. That is they were on a narrow bar which was above water when they passed with salt water on one side and brackish water on the other side. It is remarkable that the tracks were preserved in this type of depositional environment.

To be preserved, they had enough time for the clay to harden in the sun and by dessication. This means they were walking above the usual high tide mark. And at some later point the horizon was rapidly covered by a very mud saturated slow moving fresh water flow after a storm. Which had flushed the estuary of brackish water before it covered the track ways.

The oldest known hominin tracks from England (since destroyed by wave actions), are also a remarkable instance of preservation of ichnofossils (and not challenged as not being hominin tracks only because they are of the “correct” age). The only reason these were doubted is because it was thought they are too old to be in Europe for a primate to have the hallux in line with the other toes. No morphological arguments were ever presented. I have tried to debate the peer clique that rejected these for publication, and only gotten nonsense from them and finally they throw up their hands and claim they make no stratigraphic sense.

There literally are no specialists on hominid ichnofossils in the World. Not one professional or amateur with even basic understanding of hominid ichnofossils in the context of quite rigorous professional ichnopaleontology which does exist in the literature and in educational institutions including in the former USSR. My own formal training, research, and field experience is quite limited, but obviously far superior to any in paleoanthrolopogy or human genetics in the West today.

Persons without formal training / research / field experience in osteology may be able to develop some understanding of fossil hominid bones. Not so in ichnopaleontology. I have led a number of vertebrate paleontological field parties which included persons with the PhD and graduate students. They will not normally be able to recognize the bulk of terrestrial ichnofossils even if shown them. Amateurs and professionals alike have fantastic ideas as to how terrestrial mammal ichnofossils should appear. Only very rare prints closely matching the morphology of the foot that made them are recognizable to such people in the field or in photos.

Many, includsing many professionals, do not even seem to be aware some ichnofossils are controversial (we do not know if they were made by animals or nature). The Trachilos tracks are remarkable and very well preserved, there is NO DOUBT they were made by hominin feet. None what so ever. Irrespective of any silly ideas of people with no understanding of them at all. Including very magical invocations of unknown primate taxa convergently evolving hallux in line with the other toes. They are hominin based upon MANY derived hominin traits, not just the hallux being in line with the other toes. Nor am I being very bold to identify them as Homo ?naledi though in error and in a rush when they were published I foolishly identified them as Homo ?floresiensis."


Website: F. Mansfield, 2015

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