Aquatic Ape theory with specialized divers in Indonesia

Aquatic Ape“Aquatic ape theory (AAT) proposes that humans went through an aquatic or semi-aquatic stage in our evolution… the physical difference [between apes and humans] is due to the possibility that our ancestors lived a semi-aquatic existence, which involved activities such as wading, swimming, and diving.” —

Sir Alister Hardy was a respected 20th century British marine biologist.  He first suggested Aquatic Ape theory in 1960 but was almost immediately castigated by fellow academics and scientists.

Now more researchers have been trekking to the off-shore environs of Indonesia and the Philippines.

Bajau People with super-human abilities under-water

Bajau PeopleThe Bajau people previously referred to as “sea gypsies,” are capable of spending 5 hours in the water in fishing expeditions.  They spend an average of 29 seconds under water before coming up for a breath.  Researchers have found they have larger spleens than their on-shore Indonesia neighbors.  These adaptions could have come within the last 15,000 years, suggesting human evolution occurs much rapidly than previously believed.

“It has always seemed a good explanation to me for how our human ancestors might have adopted an upright stance.” — Sir David Attenborough, BBC

From Haikai Magazine, March 24, “Born to Swim”:

“In Southeast Asia, sea nomads known as the Bajau offer a glimpse into how humans may have adapted to an aquatic way of life…

A DNA analysis found that the Bajau had a higher frequency of a specific gene, PDE10A… The Bajau were also more likely to carry certain genes connected with an enhanced dive reflex and for preventing the build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. According to the paper, the Bajau and their land-dwelling neighbors probably diverged 15,000 years ago, offering plenty of time for the development of specific adaptations for their oceanic lifestyle.”

More on the Bajau people on YouTube.


Aquatic Ape Theory got a boost when a paper was released in late 2019 suggesting a wetlands area of Botswana as the cradle of mankind.

The paper was highly controversial, with many top paleo-anthropologists expressing skepticism.  Chris Stringer of the London Museum of Natural History for example, holds to a multiregional African model, with no single location that can be designated as where mankind began.

From, Oct. 2019

Human origins in a southern African palaeo-wetland and first migrations

Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa around 200 thousand years ago (ka). Although some of the oldest skeletal remains suggest an eastern African origin, southern Africa is home to contemporary populations that represent the earliest branch of human genetic phylogeny.

Here we generate, to our knowledge, the largest resource for the poorly represented and deepest-rooting maternal L0 mitochondrial DNA branch… from contemporary southern Africans and show the geographical isolation of L0d1’2, L0k and L0g KhoeSan descendants south of the Zambezi river in Africa. By establishing mitogenomic timelines, frequencies and dispersals, we show that the L0 lineage emerged within the residual Makgadikgadi–Okavango palaeo-wetland of southern Africa7, approximately 200 ka (95% confidence interval, 240–165 ka)…

Taken together, we propose a southern African origin of anatomically modern humans with sustained homeland occupation before the first migrations of people that appear to have been driven by regional climate changes.

Aquatic Ape Theory enthusiasts focused in on this one key sentence in the paper:

Subsequent drying of the homeland corresponds to a sustained effective population size (L0k), whereas wet–dry cycles and probable adaptation to marine foraging allowed the southwestern migrants to achieve population growth (L0d1’2), as supported by extensive south-coastal archaeological evidence

Although not specifically endorsing the controversial paper, Roberto Saenz, a prominent paleo-anthropologist and geology historian, as well as a blogger on anthropology, Tweeted out the paper to his followers in September of 2021.

Algis Kaliukas PhD, one of the top enthusiasts for Aquatic Ape responded:

Earliest evidence for modern humans is coastal/wetland. The H erectus/earlier diasporas were largely coastal. The earliest putative bipedal hominids lived in wetlands. Yet the field’s still obsessed with the old savannah dogma and determined to ignore the work of Elaine Morgan.


Erika at Gutsick Gibbon is an extreme critic of Aquatic Ape Theory.  She takes Robert Sepehr apart in a video on Aquatic Ape Theory.  Though, she admits he is popular, with a lot of views of his alt-anthropology videos.

While Robert Sepehr is an evil human being.  He is just wrong.


Author Eric

FSU grad, US Navy Veteran. Houston, Texas

More posts by Eric

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