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Aquatic Ape Hardcover – Aug 8 2005

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Not the best AAT/AAH book out there. Nov. 24 1999
By Dewi Morgan - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've agreed with some of the other reviewers and rated this book at four stars only because of it's historical and feminist merit. Oh, and because I am biased because Elaine is my grandmother.
If you want this for it's place in feminist history, or the history of the AAT, then go ahead and buy it.
Otherwise, I suggest you buy "the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis" by the same author. While it is of no notable feminist import, it is considerably more up to date for the AAT/AAH, better written, better researched (25 years more research went into it), with more evidence, better references, and so on and so forth. Also see "the Descent of the Child", and "the Scars of Evolution", again by the same author.
Be warned that this is the only significantly feminist work by THIS Elaine Morgan. There is a DIFFERENT Elaine Morgan who has written such books as "Women and Society".
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution Nov. 9 2002
By Khemprof - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution written by Elaine Morgan is an interesting book about human evolution with an unique twist.
Imagine, if you will, in the course of human evolution, what if man had to adapt to an aquatic existance for a period of time before again returning to land. This is the theory put forth by the author. This theory was first propounded by Professor Alister Hardy. He laid the foundation for his theory by comparing man to other animals and asking questions. Some of these question were very basic, why does man walk upright, why is man naked, why does man have an aquired language, why does man shed tears, and why does man have a different sexual behavior than other primates. All of these questions and more are basic to evolution.
Now, if you compare man to aquatic mammals, these questions will start to have answers in comparative anatomy. But, where to you find the evidence to link an aquatic adaptation in man's past? Well, the author does some good ol' detective work and came up with some answers. There are parts of Africa, more precisely the Nubian, Arabian, and Somalian plates around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
I found the book to be an easy well-written read that is engagingly clever. But, the questions that it raises have answers that are very compelling to the theory of some aquatic evolutionary history, which is hard to iqnore.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Simple, consistent explanation of human evolution Nov. 8 1999
By Scott Crosby ( - Published on
Format: Paperback
Blows the savannah theories to smithereens! Explains human anatomy that those cannot (body fur, noses, sweat glands, subcut. fat, hip bones, m/f diffs, etc.). Points out similarities with other, known evolutions. Provides solid alternative to stretched, contrived savannah-based explanations that cannot be substantiated and have no evolutionary parallel. The theory's pieces "fit". The Aquatic Ape Theory only lacks field work that substantiates the theory with findings in the field. The theory is not contradicted to date; findings so far still do not eliminate savannah nor aquatic theories.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely convincing July 8 1999
By Kristin Ferguson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was skeptical at best when my mother handed me this book to read. After a few pages I was enthralled. Five years later, I've read it three times and even summarized it for my young daughters. She makes a convincing case that human beings went through some period of semi-aquatic existence (and no, she isn't saying we once had gills or flippers!) Elaine Morgan makes it seem anything but outlandish, and her writing style is inviting. This book is out of print, but read The Descent of Woman, The Descent of the Child and The Scars of Evolution, all by the same author.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Evolution from a Female Perspective Dec 23 2014
By John Richard Schrock - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution, by Elaine Morgan; (c)1982, Stein and Day Press, 170 pages hardcover.

Biology textbooks often offer the "just so" story of human evolution: driven from the forests by drought, survival on the savanna by group hunting and scavenging that required language development and promoted tool use─all centering on the man as hunter. "Wrong!" shouts Elaine Morgan, who champions Professor Alister Hardy's aquatic ape theory, a theory that "explains" our unusual hair patterns, our plump babies, our upright stance, even our primordial fears of spider and snake-like critters (crabs and eels?).

"Descent of Woman" is an earlier version, and slightly "heavier-handed." "The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis" was written several decades after this book and incorporates even more data. This intermediate version includes the "diving reflex" of marine mammals that is also found in humans, but is less rigorous, less detailed. Rigor and detail are essential if you are going to debate in the expert science arena; but for popular understanding "Aquatic Ape" is an initial alternative "just so" story for high school students to ponder.

There are additional books espousing the importance of understanding females to understand modern human traits that are based on softer sciences. Some argue that "culture as a symbolic system resulted from an immense social, sexual, and political revolution initiated by women" and that "Culture became established when evolving human females began to assert collective control over their own sexuality, refusing sex to all males except those who came to them with provisions." It is difficult for science teachers in public schools to detail the "sex strike" as a means by which women motivated men to hunt, but this too provides a female-based alternative to the alpha male on the savanna. In comparison, "Aquatic Ape" should allow a teacher to encourage discussion of the role of women in human evolution by remaining in the realm of biology without treading into dangerous sex ed territory.