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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  September 2016  /  Sorry David, we didn’t evolve from aquatic apes

Sorry David, we didn’t evolve from aquatic apes

A failed hypothesis

Sorry David, we didn’t evolve from aquatic apes

Professor Alice Roberts (Birmingham) and Mark Maslin (UCL Geography) argue that there is no evidence for humans evolving from aquatic apes despite the assertion in David Attenborough's recent BBC Radio 4 series The Waterside Ape.

The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis suggests that everything from walking upright to our lack of hair, from holding our breath to eating shellfish, could be because of an aquatic phase in our ancestry.

Since the theory was first suggested more than 55 years ago, huge advances have been made in the study of human evolution and our story is much more interesting and complicated than suggested by the catch-all Aquatic Ape Hypothesis.

Alice and Mark argue that when the aquatic ape idea is tested against the hard evidence: the fossils, comparative anatomy and physiology, and genetics, it has failed – again and again.

See:


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Humans more interesting than an Aquatic Ape


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