Importance of Natural Resources

Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes


Well, this is 2009. And it’s the Bicentenary of Charles Darwin. And all over the world, eminent evolutionists are anxious to celebrate this. And what they’re planning to do is to enlighten us on almost every aspect of Darwin and his life, and how he changed our thinking. I say almost every aspect, because there is one aspect of this story which they have thrown no light on. And they seem anxious to skirt around it and step over it and to talk about something else. So I’m going to talk about it. It’s the question of, why are we so different from the chimpanzees? We get the geneticists keeping on telling us how extremely closely we are related — hardly any genes of difference, very, very closely related. And yet, when you look at the phenotypes, there’s a chimp, there’s a man; they’re astoundingly different, no resemblance at all. I’m not talking about airy-fairy stuff about culture or psychology, or behavior. I’m talking about ground-base, nitty-gritty, measurable physical differences. They, that one, is hairy and walking on four legs. That one is a naked biped. Why? I mean — (Laughter) if I’m a good Darwinist, I’ve got to believe there’s a reason for that. If we changed so much, something must have happened. What happened? Now 50 years ago, that was a laughably simple question. Everybody knew the answer. They knew what happened. The ancestor of the apes stayed in the trees; our ancestors went out onto the plain. That explained everything. We had to get up on our legs to peer over the tall grass, or to chase after animals, or to free our hands for weapons. And we got so overheated in the chase that we had to take off that fur coat and throw it away. Everybody knew that, for generations. But then, in the ’90s, something began to unravel. The paleontologists themselves looked a bit more closely at the accompanying microfauna that lived in the same time and place as the hominids. And they weren’t savanna species. And they looked at the herbivores. And they weren’t savanna herbivores. And then they were so clever, they found a way to analyze fossilized pollen. Shock, horror. The fossilized pollen was not of savanna vegetation. Some of it even came from lianas, those things that dangle in the middle of the jungle. So we’re left with a situation where we know that our earliest ancestors were moving around on four legs in the trees, before the savanna ecosystem even came into existence. This is not something I’ve made up. It’s not a minority theory. Everybody agrees with it. Professor Tobias came over from South Africa and spoke to University College London. He said, “Everything I’ve been telling you for the last 20 years, forget about it. It was wrong. We’ve got to go back to square one and start again.” It made him very unpopular. They didn’t want to go back to square one. I mean, it’s a terrible thing to happen. You’ve got this beautiful paradigm. You’ve believed it through generations. Nobody has questioned it. You’ve been constructing fanciful things on top of it, relying on it to be as solid as a rock. And now it’s whipped away from under you. What do you do? What does a scientist do in that case? Well, we know the answer because Thomas S. Kuhn wrote a seminal treatise about this back in 1962. He said what scientists do when a paradigm fails is, guess what — they carry on as if nothing had happened. (Laughter) If they haven’t got a paradigm they can’t ask the question. So they say, “Yes it’s wrong, but supposing it was right …” (Laughter) And the only other option open to them is to stop asking the questions. So that is what they have done now. That’s why you don’t hear them talking about it. It’s yesterday’s question. Some of them have even elevated it into a principle. It’s what we ought to be doing. Aaron Filler from Harvard said, “Isn’t it time we stopped talking about selective pressures? I mean, why don’t we talk about, well, there’s chromosomes, and there’s genes. And we just record what we see.” Charles Darwin must be spinning in his grave! He knew all about that kind of science. And he called it hypothesis-free science. And he despised it from the bottom of his heart. And if you’re going to say, “I’m going to stop talking about selective pressures,” you can take “The Origin of Species” and throw it out of the window, for it’s about nothing else but selective pressures. And the irony of it is, that this is one occasion of a paradigm collapse where we didn’t have to wait for a new paradigm to come up. There was one waiting in the wings. It had been waiting there since 1960 when Alister Hardy, a marine biologist, said, “I think what happened, perhaps our ancestors had a more aquatic existence for some of the time.” He kept it to himself for 30 years. But then the press got hold of it and all hell broke loose. All his colleagues said, “This is outrageous. You’ve exposed us to public ridicule! You must never do that again.” And at that time, it became set in stone: the aquatic theory should be dumped with the UFOs and the yetis, as part of the lunatic fringe of science. Well I don’t think that. I think that Hardy had a lot going for him. I’d like to talk about just a handful of what have been called the hallmarks of mankind, the things that made us different from everybody else, and all our relatives. Let’s look at our naked skin. It’s obvious that most of the things we think about that have lost their body hair, mammals without body hair, are aquatic ones, like the dugong, the walrus, the dolphin, the hippopotamus, the manatee. And a couple of wallowers-in-mud like the babirusa. And you’re tempted to think, well perhaps, could that be why we are naked? I suggested it and people said, “No no no. I mean, look at the elephant. You’ve forgotten all about the elephant haven’t you?” So back in 1982 I said, “Well perhaps the elephant had an aquatic ancestor.” Peals of merry laughter! “That crazy woman. She’s off again. She’ll say anything won’t she?” But by now, everybody agrees that the elephant had an aquatic ancestor. This has come ’round to be that all those naked pachyderms have aquatic ancestors. The last exception was supposed to be the rhinoceros. Last year in Florida they found extinct ancestor of a rhinoceros and said, “Seems to have spent most of its time in the water.” So this is a close connection between nakedness and water. As an absolute connection, it only works one way. You can’t say all aquatic animals are naked, because look at the sea otter. But you can say that every animal that has become naked has been conditioned by water, in its own lifetime, or the lifetime of its ancestors. I think this is significant. The only exception is the naked Somalian mole-rat, which never puts its nose above the surface of the ground. And take bipedality. Here you can’t find anybody to compare it with, because we’re the only animal that walks upright on two legs. But you can say this: all the apes and all the monkeys are capable of walking on two legs, if they want to, for a short time. There is only one circumstance in which they always, all of them, walk on two legs, and that is when they are wading through water. Do you think that’s significant? David Attenborough thinks it’s significant, as the possible beginning of our bipedalism. Look at the fat layer. We have got, under our skin, a layer of fat, all over: nothing in the least like that in any other primate. Why should it be there? Well they do know, that if you look at other aquatic mammals, the fat that in most land mammals is deposited inside the body wall, around the kidneys and the intestines and so on, has started to migrate to the outside, and spread out in a layer inside the skin. In the whale it’s complete: no fat inside at all, all in blubber outside. We cannot avoid the suspicion that in our case it’s started to happen. We have got skin lined with this layer. It’s the only possible explanation of why humans, if they’re very unlucky, can become grossly obese, in a way that would be totally impossible for any other primate, physically impossible. Something very odd, matter-of-factly, never explained. The question of why we can speak. We can speak. And the gorilla can’t speak. Why? Nothing to do with his teeth or his tongue or his lungs or anything like that — purely has to do with its conscious control of its breath. You can’t even train a gorilla to say “Ah” on request. The only creatures that have got conscious control of their breath are the diving animals and the diving birds. It was an absolute precondition for our being able to speak. And then again, there is the fact that we are streamlined. Trying to imagine a diver diving into water — hardly makes a splash. Try to imagine a gorilla performing the same maneuver, and you can see that, compared with gorilla, we are halfway to being shaped like a fish. I am trying to suggest that, for 40-odd years, this aquatic idea has been miscategorized as lunatic fringe, and it is not lunatic fringe. And the ironic thing about it is that they are not staving off the aquatic theory to protect a theory of their own, which they’ve all agreed on, and they love. There is nothing there. They are staving off the aquatic theory to protect a vacuum. (Laughter) (Applause) How do they react when I say these things? One very common reaction I’ve heard about 20 times is, “But it was investigated. They conducted a serious investigation of this at the beginning, when Hardy put forward his article.” I don’t believe it. For 35 years I’ve been looking for any evidence of any incident of that kind, and I’ve concluded that that’s one of the urban myths. It’s never been done. I ask people sometimes, and they say, “I like the aquatic theory! Everybody likes the aquatic theory. Of course they don’t believe it, but they like it.” Well I say, “Why do you think it’s rubbish?” They say “Well … everybody I talk to says it’s rubbish. And they can’t all be wrong, can they?” The answer to that, loud and clear, is, “Yes! They can all be wrong.” History is strewn with the cases when they’ve all got it wrong. (Applause) And if you’ve got a scientific problem like that, you can’t solve it by holding a head count, and saying, “More of us say yes than say no.” (Laughter) Apart from that, some of the heads count more than others. Some of them have come over. There was Professor Tobias. He’s come over. Daniel Dennett, he’s come over. Sir David Attenborough, he’s come over. Anybody else out there? Come on in. The water is lovely. (Applause) And now we’ve got to look to the future. Ultimately one of three things is going to happen. Either they will go on for the next 40 years, 50 years, 60 years. “Yeah well we don’t talk about that. Let’s talk about something interesting.” That would be very sad. The second thing that could happen is that some young genius will arrive, and say, “I’ve found it. It was not the savanna, it was not the water, it was this!” No sign of that happening either. I don’t think there is a third option. So the third thing that might happen is a very beautiful thing. If you look back at the early years of the last century, there was a stand-off, a lot of bickering and bad feeling between the believers in Mendel, and the believers in Darwin. It ended with a new synthesis: Darwin’s ideas and Mendel’s ideas blending together. And I think the same thing will happen here. You’ll get a new synthesis. Hardy’s ideas and Darwin’s ideas will be blended together. And we can move forward from there, and really get somewhere. That would be a beautiful thing. It would be very nice for me if it happened soon. (Laughter) Because I’m older now than George Burns was when he said, “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.” (Laughter) So if it’s going to come and it’s going to happen, what’s holding it up? I can tell you that in three words. Academia says no. They decided in 1960, “That belongs with the UFOs and the yetis.” And it’s not easy to change their minds. The professional journals won’t touch it with a barge pole. The textbooks don’t mention it. The syllabus doesn’t mention even the fact that we’re naked, let alone look for a reason to it. “Horizon,” which takes its cue from the academics, won’t touch it with a barge pole. So we never hear the case put for it, except in jocular references to people on the lunatic fringe. I don’t know quite where this diktat comes from. Somebody up there is issuing the commandment, “Thou shalt not believe in the aquatic theory. And if you hope to make progress in this profession, and you do believe it, you’d better keep it to yourself, because it will get in your way.” So I get the impression that some parts of the scientific establishment are morphing into a kind of priesthood. But you know, that makes me feel good, because Richard Dawkins has told us how to treat a priesthood. (Laughter) He says, “Firstly, you’ve got to refuse to give it all the excessive awe and reverence it’s been trained to receive.” Right. I’ll go ahead with that. And secondly, he says, “You must never be afraid to rock the boat.” I’ll go along with that too. Thank you very much. (Applause)


Reader Comments

  1. Look at today's Olympic swimmers, not a hair on their body except head hair and they cover that with a bald cap….this doesn't include the Russian woman…different species

  2. Although I agree with the overall point of the talk, I wanted to comment on the "absence of evidence" against the aquatic ape hypothesis.
    There are quite a lot of biological/chemical/bacterial markers that suggest we did not have a similar aquatic origin as say elephants.
    1) chemical – most aquatic diving animals (including elephants) have a molecule called Myoglobin in their blood that's actively there and is used to store large amounts of oxygen. this is how whales/dolphins and even otters can hold their breath so long. Humans don't generally have this, except for rare cases on muscle damage. Doctors usually use the presence of this molecule in our blood in detecting muscle damage as it's not supposed to be there.
    2) There are plenty of monkeys can can dive for prolonged periods of time and have evolved to live on the water side. One great example is from Attenborough – he has a video on Crab-Eating Macaque that spends up to a minute underwater. The monkey is in no way evolved to be bipedal and has plenty of fur.
    3) Bacterial culture on our skin has a very specific ratio of very specific bacteria that's "safe" for us. There have been cases that a human that spent too much time in the water had acquired a completely misbalanced bacterial culture which would result in serious skin problems or even infection. The 2019 paper "Ocean swimming alters skin microbiome, increasing vulnerability to infection" goes in a lot of detail about this idea of microbiome that we all need for survival. So staying in the water for too long is not something our body is used to either.

    There are many many more reasons one could provide against this hypothesis, which is why most major scientists today still do not accept it, as most of the evidence is explainable in other ways or is not particularly strong.

    Nevertheless, the idea of "going against" the paradigm is something that we all need to do and I still agree with Elaine Morgan in most of what she said.

  3. I feel bad for evolutionists… and the sad thing is they are considered to be intellectual… poor old lady so foolish and all these people who support this nonsense. So sad

  4. Never heard of aquatic apes or seen any fossilized evidence of them. Where is the evidence. It sounds like a theory which is a guess, an "educated" guess but a guess none the less.

  5. at 9:40 , I'm puzzled by her contention that humans are unique among primates in their capacity to become morbidly obese. We don't see MO in wild primates but we certainly see it in captive ones. <<Several animal models have been used to study overweight body condition and include dogs, pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, and nonhuman primates, such as macaques and baboons. Obesity can be induced experimentally in these species by using high-fat diets or surgical force-feeding and through genetic modification. In captive nonhuman primates, particularly rhesus and cynomolgus macaques, obesity occurs spontaneously, making these species excellent models for the condition in humans.>>
    The subcutaneous fat layer does seem to be thicker in humans at birth though, whereas obesity is a variable condition relating to lifestyle, so (because that conditionality makes obesity an evolutionary red herring) I don't think it detracts from her core point. It does damage her scientific credibility in my eyes however, as do extravagant and unsupportable claims like "the only possible explanation" at 09:41

  6. Mumble, jumble, stumble, fumble.
    Sure sounded like she was attempting to speak with a mouth full of marbles!! Left with only guesses at certain words she couldn't clearly pronounce. Therefore, the message lost its way during moments in presenting. YIKES!!

  7. ➡️When I was young my brother said we evolved from monkeys.
    ➡️Another video few minutes back said we evolved from Dimetrodon.
    ➡️A religious person in India said that we grew like an embryo in soil and we had a tree like growth in our navel which worked like umbilical cord.
    ➡️My father once said we the multi cellular organisms were born from unicellular organisms like amoeba and bacteria.
    ➡️An archeologist from South India says that our ancestors were Aliens and they propogated humans here.
    ➡️If I am right David Attenborough one said that we are decendents of a fossil fish called coelacanth.
    ➡️This lady says we evolved from aquatic apes.
    Enough is enough.
    I can not tolerate this anymore.

  8. The fat thing has been proposed as a result of the metabolic processes being less efficient to feed the larger brain of humans. Gene studies support a finite metabolic limit.

  9. I think what she is trying to say is that she is an aquatic ape and everyone evolved from her. Ha ha. Incredible how people can be so dumb after spending all their life. Sorry for the remark. Appeal to all sane "scientists" out there: please have a careful read of some Vedic Literature like the Puranas and Upanishads, especially the Bhagavat Purana and Gitopanishad, commented by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Skip all the so-called objective commentaries, they are mostly based on big bang theory, which remains up to today just a THEORY. So read from people who have actually studied Vedic knowledge. Rest assured, you will find information on many things, which scientists are cracking their heads on since centuries. You could become the new Einstein if you disclose all those so-called new discoveries…

  10. Darwin most certainly did not change my thinking. I still firmly believe that Darwin was a complete idiot. Nothing evolves. Only adaptations can happen and they never ever change the creature into something else. Evolution is pure fantasy.

  11. She forgot about our webbed hands and feet and also our nose which keeps water from pouring in when we go underwater

  12. …And I say we devolved from intergalactic ninja pterodactyl space lemurs from plant Zgbanctyx.

    Prove me wrong.

  13. I was sure she would bring up our diet. I tried to look it up only to have Google direct me to fad diet garbage, but I was told we had a more aquatic diet at one point.

  14. I'm no where near being a scientist, but commonsense tells you to look at land mammals and you notice paws or huffs,for high level mobility. Commonsense also tells you examine aquatic creatures you see fins. With that said,this nice lady should explain to us,did her aquatic apes have fins.

  15. Just stumbled across this wonderful lady… what a great talk… we need more free-thinkers, those that question the orthodox paradigm no matter how strange the idea might first seem… RIP Elaine Morgan

  16. Wrong! Human beings, contrary to Darwin popped up all over the world. God did not limit humans to one group in Africa. That explains why we have (8) eight different blood types. The anthropologists in China was right. They developed from one Neanderthal. Just like we all did. You see that explains why Scandinavians have blond hair and blue eyes. Neanderthals were part animal and animals tend to match their environment. Therefore very cold climate tends to create very pale beings.
    God would not limit life to only one obscure group in Africa. God programmed the Earth to produce one type of human being. That's why we all have the same original DNA.
    I am from the planet Oberon. I'm teaching you. I am very serious about our origins.

  17. This is sad to me. The imaginations of people will go anywhere to try to escape God. Your spiral of paradigms won't get you anywhere but lost.

  18. The problem with this theory is that we have almost the full lineage of skulls from Lucy to the modern man without an aquatic ape

  19. Ella está demasiado espantosa como para calificar para mono, y yo estoy demasiado chulo como para calificar para mono, como quedamos pues?

  20. When I was a kid in school I was told so many lies about our history that's unbelievable and now that they proven that these things are lies We have to wait for the old people like myself to dial so we can get some new mines

  21. Blasphemy! Turn to Jesus or relive a nightmare of this world. Believe the scripture, for simple bacteria can NOT evolve into complicated DNA. See F1 gene! I just ended your career teachings,,,BOOOM! Don’t fear him, fear the consequences!

  22. Anybody else catch Mark Walburg in the crowd at 3:45 ?? I know it's not really him, but he could definitely pass for his twin brother.

  23. A scientist should be like a detective. First, Secure and search for clues in the "crime scene" (scientific evidence). Second, Interview the witnesses (That would be ancient accounts that are feasible or credible). Elaine wants to skip all that and just create a story based on evidence in spite of witnesses. Elaine has a bias and is not credible.

  24. Scientifikers are systematic, trying every possibility.. First they said "cave monkeys".. Now they go "acquatic monkeys".. Next someone will say "flying monkeys".
    Enough with that monkey business already.
    Humans evolved from space monkeys and that's it.

  25. just like Darwin it is a theory/hypothesis….even Darwin asked that his research be challenged through science and someone made it gospel/paradigm…..I like this scientist ….

  26. People did not lose all their hair in fact we all know the Neanderthal were hairy and just look at people on a beach you will see very hairy humans still. I do accept that it is possible that a group did adapt to a semi aquatic life but that does not mean they are the main ancestors of us all. There is a group of people who live by the sea that can see underwater. They have adapted to their aquatic hunting by taking children underwater at an early age.Small groups can develop narrow specializations like the people who live in high altitude places in Tibet and the Andes. That does not mean that they are the main ancestors of modern humans.

  27. Professor (Emeritus) Phillip V. Tobias (South African palaeoanthropologist)

    My new hero, “Everything I've told you for the last twenty years is wrong”

    In the professional academic world, this takes an amazing amount of courage.

  28. Its hard to even listen to. Deep down. You know its just sad. Darwinism is dead. It died with the rise of quantum thinking. Newtonian ways died long ago. The universe has never been and never will be as simple as cause and effect.
    No two instances are the same. Therefore the quantum theory holds true. There is unlimited amount of outcomes.

    U feel it in ir guts anyway. U have always known you did not come from apes.
    If we did. Then why are there still apes! Are they our dumb brothers who are to stupid for genealogical advancement. I dont think so.

    TAKE OFF THE VEIL WORLD!

  29. We speak because we forgot how to communicate with our minds.
    I gtg. Any more of this and ill start writing letters to this lady explaining why she is wrong.

  30. This was discussed at length back in the day when The Naked Ape came out. It was disputed in The Ascent of Woman, a book that describes water creatures as early humans. Is this woman the author of that book?

  31. Yeti and UFO also shouldn't be considered lunatic fringe either as there is ample evidence that both exist. Sufficient at least to warrant serious investigation by scientists.

  32. Wow she is wonderful. I love evolutionary biologists. But concerning the establishment behaving that way, that is anti science.

  33. If you wana trust this lady thinking that we came from a sea munky than go ahead but you will live your life lost. The truth is we never evolved we are made by a life sorce her name is mother earth from the dust you have come to the dust you shall return the the magnetic shield that the earth has is its soul=life. We are made from earth. For those who didnt understand me. Scientist them selves know that earth is a liveing organism in space rap your mind around that.

  34. This is amazing. I'm surprised I haven't heard this theory before but it makes complete sense the way she explains it.

  35. Our children are born quite comfortably under water. They have been in liquid for 9 months. This is a very interesting theory

  36. We did not evolve, there are no intermediate species. And yes we are difference because we do not originate totally from earth. Eveolution makes no sense, intervension does, we arw totally removed from animals of all types. People who hang on to the concept of evolution are frightened you are not keeping up with current evidence, it is scary isnt it?

  37. She doesn't speak for me. Mathematical models show random mutation isn't sufficient for DNA structures complexity.

  38. What a lovely woman and very well spoken. It makes alot of sense as we do always throughout history seem to gravitate our settlements towards water, by rivers or the coast

  39. Or we had to go into the caves for a long period. Underground so to say. like maybe a few thousand years due to large impact/supervolcano.

  40. I say we survived in the water and in caves/underground during an atmospheric disaster. That's where we became good mushroom cultivators. Plus wouldn't we have a extra protective membrane on the eyeball like all other water creatures?

  41. If I stay in the water more than an hour my skin starts to wrinkle. We'd probably would have scales of some sort if we were water creatures.

  42. This lady is not a scientist, she has an English degree. Her criticism of real scientists is another example of the anti-science movement that manifests itself in climate change denial and anti-vaccine ideology. TED needs to do a better job of vetting its speakers.

  43. Amazing woman and I go along with everything she says. I've always felt that our ancestors started in the water and that some of them stayed and the others came out of it on to land. That would explain why some acquatic mammals exhibit such intelligence on a par with humans.

  44. Sometimes a vacuum is better than asserting something without more evidence. Perhaps they learned their lesson the last time they asserting something. Give us better evidence

  45. There are two major points a evolutionist dont like to talk about, the ape-man differences, but the main one is how they dont have any evidence that evolution is true, yet they teach and speak as if do

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