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Alternative theory of human development

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:44 pm    Post subject: Alternative theory of human development Reply with quote

For all those interested, here is an alternative theory of human development which I came across when studying for my zoology exam.

In the 1960s the Savannah theory was proposed. It stated that early hominids came down from trees to forage on the plains and eventually developed the skills and tools to hunt. At the same time the Aquatic Ape theory was suggested by A. Hardy but he never released it for fear of being ridiculed. This was maybe just as well. In the 1970s he told the theory to a small group of oceanographers and somehow the press got to hear of it. Hardy was laughed at, but one young lady from the Welsh valleys named Elaine Morgan caught a hold of it and requested that she be allowed to write it up. She had taken issue with the Savannah theory initially because it was fairly chauvinistic, suggesting that women of the time would be entirely dependant on a good mate, and later on because there are huge holes in it. The idea took off in the public sector due to Morganís evocative writing style but was widely disregarded in science. However towards the end of the century (in the 80s and 90s) there were mutterings that the Savannah theory oversimplified things too much. In 1995 the Savannah theory was finally discarded.

Humans are not efficient creatures. We cannot run fast on two legs, we do not hibernate and we cannot fly, but we can swim. There are very few animals which share the ability to voluntarily swim and control their breath. Apesí breathing is entirely unconscious so if they are held underwater they will breathe the water and drown instantly. Marine mammals on the other hand have to constantly think about their breathing, hence their need to sleep with one half of their brain at a time. Seals, otters, humans and the proboscis monkey can all hold their breath suggesting evolutionary links on both the terrestrial and aquatic sides. It has been suggested that the control of breath needed to swim could have aided the development of sophisticated speech or even vice versa.
Human babies can swim almost instantly. Receptors on our faces can tell when weíre in water and this causes us to hold our breath automatically (have you ever come up gasping after being splashed?).
Human babies are also very fat. They increase in size by ten times in the last 12 weeks of gestation. Chimp babies are not fat. Compared to chimp brains which are the same size proportionally as humans at birth the human brain develops three times as fast as the chimpsí. Having fat offspring allows any extra nutrients to go straight into developing mental capacity.
Developing brains need fatty acids (omega-3) iodine both of which can be found in abundance on the sea shore. It has been suggested that efficient hunters could accumulate enough on the plains, but this is not the case. Terrestrial sources of fatty acids and iodine are just not high enough to sustain such cerebral development. It has been suggested that 60% of school children are iodine deficient and that this is affecting their intelligence, however on the sea shore it is possible for even a lone pregnant woman to collect all the nutrients she and her unborn child could need.
Humans are born covered in a waxy layer called the Vernix layer. Very few other animals share this. The only ones which do are seals. Semi-aquatic mammals. The Vernix layer of seals seems to correlate to how soon after birth their offspring can enter the water. For example Harbour seals have the thickest layer and their young can enter the water mere hours after birth.
It has been suggested that survival on the coast could account for humanís development onto two legs also. In order to venture further out from shore to collect food standing higher on the back legs would be beneficial. The support gained from the water would help the relevant muscles develop without strain.
He who does not eat cheese will go mad. ~ French proverb.

Keeper of the fallen leaves. 'Cos they're still pretty.
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Joined: 18 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truly a very interesting theory. I think I'm going to have to look into it a bit further!
. Dubbed "Usagi" by AsA .
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"If by chance some day you're not feeling well, and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled."
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