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Med Hypotheses. 1985 Jan;16(1):17-32.

The Aquatic Ape Theory: evidence and a possible scenario.

Erratum in

  • Med Hypotheses 1987 Nov;24(3):300.
  • Med Hypotheses 1985 Oct;18(2):187.


Much more than other primates, man has several features that are seen more often in aquatic than terrestrial mammals: nakedness, thick subcutaneous fat-layer, stretched hindlimbs, voluntary respiration, dilute urine etc. The Aquatic Ape Theory states that our ancestors once spent a significant part of their life in water. Presumably, early apes were plant and fruit eaters in tropical forests. Early hominids also ate aquatic food; at first mainly weeds and tubers, later sea shore animals, especially shellfish. With the Pleistocene cooling, our ancestors returned to land and became bipedal omnivores and scavengers and later hunters of coastal and riverside animals.

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