Illustration courtesy Elaine Morgan 1982
In 1960, marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy, published a paper attempting to explain some of
these radical differences. Unfortunately, he was ridiculed by all of the S.H. supporters of
the day. Since his paper, various "aquatic" hypotheses have been proposed, but only recently
are they beginning to be taken seriously by the anthropological establishment.
In general, the "aquatic" hypotheses argue that our "special" characteristics are better explained when
we are considered to have had an aquatic, or semi-aquatic period during our evolutionary history.
This is not completely unseen, in fact many terrestrial mammals have returned to the sea: whales, dolphins, sea lions, otters, beavers etc. All of which had to adapt and change.
It can be argued that what we should be looking for in order to solve the puzzle of mankind's evolutionary environment, is features of convergent evolution in other species. If we do so we find that indeed we do align with the semi-aquatic mammals in many ways!
The human attributes which set us apart from all other primates and all other "grassland" dwellers and align us with aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals are: bipedalism, conscious breath control and speech, greatly reduced body hair, subcutaneous fat, and increased brain size. What kind of environment would demand these changes?