Online Encyclopedia
  of the Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution (WHHE)
    including the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

Newborns float naturally and hold their breath when submerged. This is interpreted as an aquatic adaptation in WHHE.

What are the WHHE and its derivatives?

The Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution (WHHE), including the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (AAH) and the Aquarboreal Apes, Littoral Homo Hypothesis (AALH) posits that a range of human characteristics can be best explained by a semiaquatic evolutionary pressure during human evolution.
These hypotheses are based on the consensus of humans having a close kinship with the great apes, while attempting to disclose the evolutionary cause for the profound differences between humans (genus Homo) and chimps (genus Pan), gorillas (genus Gorilla) and orangutans (genus Pongo).
Key characteristics suggested as aquatic adaptations include human bipedalism to wade in shallow water;
human furlessness coupled with human subcutaneous fat beneath the
dermis as a primitive form of blubber; the large human brain in recent decades disclosed as dependent on micronutrients most readily available in seafood; human breath control through a descended larynx, allowing for song and speech; human babies born with extra adipose fat and vernix caseosa to aid insulation and floating in water, along with benefits of water births for both mother and child; and behavioral observations of human afinity to waterside habitats and hygienic bathing.
An early version of WHHE was proposed by German pathologist Max Westenhöfer around 1930, and then independently and more profoundly by English marine biologist sir Alister Hardy in 1960. The most prominent proponent today is Welsh writer Elaine Morgan, who has delt with the topic in several books and articles since 1972.
A female wades bipedally through shallow water. Because of the close kinship between humans and the great apes, this is argued in WHHE as illustrative of a possible origin of human bipedalism.
Traditionally, WHHE (as the AAH) have not been accepted among mainstream science as an explanation for human evolution, being listed as lacking in evidence and parsimony, and being accused of summing up ad hoc arguments (ref. to Langdon and reply to Langdon?). In the meantime, more and more studies provide evidence in support of waterside ideas, from a wide range of scientific fields, such as anthropology, biology, archaeology, and medical and nutritional science (refer to bentham ebook?).

What are the WHHE not?

By consensus, the waterside hypotheses exclude the (past) existence of:
  • fully aquatic ancestors in human evolution on par with e.g. seals and whales.
  • kryptozoologic, mythical beings such as mermaids and mermen.
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