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



The 'baboon marker'

In her books 'The Scars of Evolution' and 'The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis', Elaine Morgan referred to evidence by two researchers, Raoul Benveniste and George Todaro, in a 1976 Nature paper [below], which indicated that humans do not carry any traces of a retrovirus insertion in their genome, unlike gorillas, chimps and bonobos or any extant primates in Africa. Great apes outside of Africa, such as orangutans, also did not carry this sequence. This, they concluded, meant that Homo must have evolved in Asia, or at the very least, not in Africa. Morgan put forward the idea that Homo could have evolved in Africa, but in a location cut off from all other apes in the continent at that time, such as an island on a vast inland lake. She proposed the Danakil Alps in the Afar region of Ethiopia which would have been geographically altered during the pliocene.

More recent evidence by geneticists [below] suggests the time frame when our Homo ancestors could not have been in Africa, to have been between 4 - 3 Ma, which - if one excludes the fossils of Australopithecus and Preanthropus - suggests that there is a fossil gap in Homo evolution precisely at that time.

Early great apes were already vertical waders-climbers in peri-Tethys coastal & swamp forests. Hylobatids and hominids-pongids then split circa 18 Ma and hominids and pongids split circa 15 Ma (cf tectonics: Africa-Arabia hit Eurasia). According to Marc Verhaegen, Pongids may have followed the South Asian coastal forests, while hominids (HPG) entered Africa (possibly via the Nile or shallow Lybian seas) where HP and G split 8 or 7 Ma. G remained in the central forest Chad-Nile-Rift-Congo (afarensis->boisei), while HP colonized the littoral forest along the Zambesi mouth, H & P split c 5 Ma. P stayed in the littoral forest (africanus->robustus) and evolved in parallel with afarensis->boisei in the central forest. H followed the Indian Ocean shores, and colonized the southern Asian coastal forests (no RV insertions 4-3 Ma), and with lower sea-levels during the Pleistocene, H became littoral, before eventually returning to Africa, no later than 2 Ma. H.erectus (found in many locations next to edible shellfish) evolved heavy skeletons, platycephaly, external nose, ear exostoses, larger brain (DHA), used Acheulian hand axes and engraved shells. In other words, apiths could not have been human ancestors but the ancestors of African apes.

Possible interpretation of Homo/Pan/Gorilla family tree assuming that Apiths are no ancestor of Homo

A possible interpretation of Homo/Pan/Gorilla family tree assuming that Apiths are no ancestor of Homo.

Lineage-Specific Expansions of Retroviral Insertions within the Genomes of African Great Apes but Not Humans and Orangutans

Chris T Yohn,# 1  Zhaoshi Jiang,# 2  Sean D McGrath, 2  Karen E Hayden, 1  Philipp Khaitovich, 3  Matthew E Johnson, 1 , 2  Marla Y Eichler, 2  John D McPherson, 4  Shaying Zhao, 5  Svante Pääbo, 3 and Evan E Eichlercorresponding author 2 (Published 2005)


Retroviral infections of the germline have the potential to episodically alter gene function and genome structure during the course of evolution. Horizontal transmissions between species have been proposed, but little evidence exists for such events in the human/great ape lineage of evolution. Based on analysis of finished BAC chimpanzee genome sequence, we characterize a retroviral element (Pan troglodytes endogenous retrovirus 1 [PTERV1]) that has become integrated in the germline of African great ape and Old World monkey species but is absent from humans and Asian ape genomes. We unambiguously map 287 retroviral integration sites and determine that approximately 95.8% of the insertions occur at non-orthologous regions between closely related species. Phylogenetic analysis of the endogenous retrovirus reveals that the gorilla and chimpanzee elements share a monophyletic origin with a subset of the Old World monkey retroviral elements, but that the average sequence divergence exceeds neutral expectation for a strictly nuclear inherited DNA molecule. Within the chimpanzee, there is a significant integration bias against genes, with only 14 of these insertions mapping within intronic regions. Six out of ten of these genes, for which there are expression data, show significant differences in transcript expression between human and chimpanzee. Our data are consistent with a retroviral infection that bombarded the genomes of chimpanzees and gorillas independently and concurrently, 3–4 million years ago. We speculate on the potential impact of such recent events on the evolution of humans and great apes.


Evolution of type C viral genes: evidence for an Asian origin of man

Benveniste, R., Todaro, G. Evolution of type C viral genes: evidence for an Asian origin of man. Nature 261, 101–108 (1976).


Old World monkeys and apes, including man, possess, as a normal component of their cellular DNA, gene sequences (virogenes) related to the RNA of a vims isolated from baboons. A comparison of the viral gene sequences and the other cellular sequences distinguishes those Old World monkeys and apes that have evolved in Africa from those that have evolved in Asia. Among the apes, only gorilla and chimpanzee seem by these criteria to be African, whereas gibbon, orang-utan and man are identified as Asian, leading us to conclude that most of man's evolution has occurred outside Africa.


Website: F. Mansfield, 2015

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