Bones of Contention: Cal Paleo Expert Doubts Homo Naledi Is New Species

By Glen Martin

The popular science press went bonkers last month with news that fossilized bones of a previously unknown hominid had been discovered in a cave system in South Africa. Dubbed Homo naledi by lead researcher and University of the Witwatersrand paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, these proto-humans appeared to have lived somewhere between 1 to 3 million years ago, used tools, walked upright, and may have buried their dead, a practice that has only been attributed to our own species, Homo sapiens, and Neanderthals.

So there was a lot of talk of a “missing link”—the biggest find in paleoanthropology since Lucy, the skeleton of a female Australopithecus, was excavated from a gully near Ethiopia’s Awash River in 1974. (Donald Johanson, the lead researcher in Lucy’s discovery team, founded the Institute of Human Origins, which later moved from Berkeley to Arizona State.)

Certainly, the discovery seemed destined to open a new chapter in the study of ancient hominids, kick the telegenic Berger into the firmament of paleo­an­thro­pological superstars, and likely pay off big time for the National Geographic Society, which funded Berger and made the diminutive H. naledi the cover story for the October issue of its magazine. Indeed, the find seems destined for the full Nat Geo multimedia treatment, including television specials.

Amid all the hoopla and confetti, however, a growing number of scientists are advising caution. They’re not denying the importance of the find; the fossils, they say, are invaluable. But they contend that the bones may not represent a new species. The evidence these skeptics point to suggests that the finds may actually be bones from Homo erectus, the earliest known hominid to manifest the general proportions, stance and gait of modern humans. H. erectus had a long tenure on the planet, living from about 2 million to 70,000 years ago. The species was widely distributed (from Africa to East Asia and possibly southern Europe), used tools and fire, and may have constructed rafts to cross wide bodies of water.

By virtue of his scholarly bona fides, Berkeley paleoanthropologist Tim White seems the default, if somewhat reluctant, lead spokesman for the H. naledi contrarians. White worked with Richard Leakey in Kenya and Mary Leakey in Tanzania. In 1994, as a co-director of the Middle Awash Project in Ethiopia, White and his fellow researchers unearthed a fossilized partial female skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus; at 4.4 million years of age, “Ardi” is the oldest know human antecedent. Two years later, White and his fellow researchers discovered fossils from Australopithecus garhi, a 2.5-million-year-old hominid who was contemporaneous with the earliest known use of stone tools.

And to White’s eye, Berger’s findings are probably South African representatives of Homo erectus. The Homo naledi cranium is similar in conformation and size to the earliest and most primitive Homo erectus representatives, White said.

Berger maintains that 13 of the 83 characteristics he noted on H. naledi’s skull differ from characteristics on known H. erectus skulls. “But many of these 13 characteristics are also present in H. erectus, not absent [as Berger and his co-researchers] claim,” White said during a recent interview in his Berkeley lab. “I wrote a text on human osteology [the study of bones]. Also, I teach a class on [osteological] variation in humans. Many of the characteristics that [Berger and company] claim differentiate H. naledi from H. erectus vary within our own species.”

Further, said White, some of Berger’s conclusions about H. erectus’s cranial features are just plain wrong. Berger maintains that an external occipital protuberance—basically, a bump at the back of the skull—is present in H. naledi but absent in H. erectus. White disputed this assertion by opening a cabinet in his lab, picking up a replica of an H. erectus skull found in Kenya, and pointing to a blatant occipital protuberance.

“That feature was noted in H. erectus fossils found in both [the former Soviet republic] Georgia and Kenya,” said White. “So you look at that, and you realize these claims of a new species are a little sketchy.”

 

Berger brushed off the criticism at a press conference near the findings. “Could this be the body of Homo erectus? Absolutely not. It could not be erectus,” he said.

Since then, White has cited other elements of the H. naledi saga that he finds troubling. The fossils come not from a single specimen, but from as many as 15 different individuals; it is therefore difficult to identify which bone came from which individual, and even whether they lived in the same period. Nor has Berger’s team been able to definitively establish the age of the bones. Photos taken of the find demonstrate to White that many of the fossils were not found in situ in rocky matrix, but had been “very disturbed, perhaps by earlier cavers, in the geologically recent past.”

“One tibia, for example, was white on one end, a clear indication it had been snapped off in the recent past,” said White. “This (region’s) complex is extensive and like Swiss cheese, and it’s a favorite with spelunkers. You find beer cans next to fossils that are 3.5 million years old. So it’s important not to jump to conclusions.”

 

Further, the excavation itself seems inadequate to justify Berger’s claims, White said. “It was about the size of a phone booth floor, roughly 80 x 80 cm and 20 cm deep,” White said. “That’s much smaller than you would expect for a discovery of this magnitude. Virtually all excavations related to important finds are much larger. With a typical excavation, you must establish a threshold that provides an understanding of the successive layers, that provides the means for comprehensive analysis and comparison with specimens from other sites.”

Finally, White observed, claims that the hominids might have buried their dead (because so many bones were found in the same chamber) were hyped heavily in publicity materials; but the scientific paper that Berger and his fellow researchers produced on the fossils is much more circumspect about such possibilities. “There is no evidence of burial rituals,” the Berkeley professor said. “The only evidence seems to be ‘We can’t think of anything else.’ This is not evidence.”

When California queried Berger on White’s comments on the discovery, he emailed the following response:

“I would really rather debate Tim’s ideas in a scientific journal where they belong rather than him attempting to debate this in the media. We have had almost 60 scientists working for two years on these refereed papers—Tim is shooting from the hip using characters that appear to largely concentrate on the head rather than the whole organism and well, the one thing I can assure you is the debate on Homo naledi being a ‘primitive Homo erectus,’ whatever that is, will not be settled in the media, either traditional or social. [Reporter’s note: The query was meant to imply an early representative of H. erectus, not a biologically ‘primitive’ form.] Tim continuing to use the media to argue whatever unsupported case he has for such assertions while protesting we are using media to ‘hype’ our fossils (although our ideas are in fact published in a well respected scientific journal) appears to be a way of just getting his name in the media rather than any form of scientific discourse. I would rather confine such discourse to where it belongs, a scientific paper published by Tim White in whatever journal he might be able to get such an argument in based on real numbers, real fossils and not just his opinion.”

The Academy can be a hothouse of discord and dissent, and some fields—paleoanthropology among them—seem particularly fertile ground for contention. But White is not alone in his uneasiness over H. naledi. Reviewers at top scientific journals also found the evidence for the new hominid species to be suspect. Berger and his team originally submitted multiple papers on H. naledi to the prestigious journal Nature, which rejected them.

“Tim continuing to use the media to argue whatever unsupported case he has for such assertions while protesting we are using media to ‘hype’ our fossils (although our ideas are in fact published in a well respected scientific journal) appears to be a way of just getting his name in the media rather than any form of scientific dis-course.”

Berger and his co-authors ultimately published their findings in eLife, an open-access, peer-reviewed, online journal edited by Cal biology professor and Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, the former editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. Schekman assumed the editorship of eLife after declaring that he would no longer publish in closed-access journals such as Cell, Nature, and Science because the editors were more concerned with burnishing the reputations of their journals than publishing cutting-edge research. Like other open-access journals, eLife usually has a quicker peer-review process than long-established journals, and a much higher acceptance rate: around 25 percent, compared to the 7 percent acceptance rate of Science.

White said he agrees with Schekman that the peer-review process at the established journals is often flawed, but maintains that open-access journals such as eLife and PLOS One are not necessarily a panacea, in that research can be rushed to publication before being properly vetted by gimlet-eyed peers. “That’s clearly the case here [with H. naledi],” he said, noting the timeline between the discovery of the fossil site and the publication of the findings in the peer-reviewed and general press was only two years.

Indeed, the H. naledi announcement essentially was made simultaneously in the academic and popular media. During the press conference heralding the publication of Berger’s findings in eLife, a mock-up of National Geographic’s October magazine cover featuring the find was presented, and a television special sponsored by National Geographic and Pithecus was announced. By contrast, White and his colleagues took 15 years to publish their findings on “Ardi.” It took three years just to remove the fossils from the field. Years were spent carefully teasing the fossils from the matrix in the lab, obtaining moulds, photographs, and micro CT scans, compiling and analyzing the data, and comparing the fossils with all other known fossils and relevant living species.

Ultimately, findings on “Ardi” were published in both the journal Science and in National Geographic; but White made sure the material appeared first in the peer-reviewed publication.

“We held the popular press off for 10 years,” says White, “for the simple reason that you can’t do good science when those guys are in the room. So when you actually invite them into the room—as Berger did, when they’re in the (tent) filming while excavation is going on, that has a very high impact on the work.”

Also, said White, Berger’s team was negligent in the handling and care of their find. He produced a photo of a member of Berger’s team scraping some of the bones; a small pile of shavings is clearly visible. “Those are bone scrapings, and that’s a terrible thing to see. You lose valuable information when you remove bone like that, information you’ll never be able to recover.”

“This find is remarkable enough for what it is—a huge injection of new data important for understanding early hominid evolution. There was no need to turn it into something more than that.”

Both Berger and National Geographic have run into hominid-associated controversy before. In 2008, Berger was the lead author of a paper in PLOS One on the discovery of the remains of dwarfish, Hobbit-like hominids in the Palau archipelago. They were reported to be similar to bones found earlier on the Indonesian island of Flores 2,000 kilometers to the south. The Flores find was tentatively identified as a new species, H. floresiensis, a designation that has since become highly controversial. Berger suggested that the Palau discovery indicated the Flores hominids may not constitute a separate species, but are rather a manifestation of the dwarfism that sometimes occurs among mammals isolated on islands.

But Berger’s hypothesis for a troupe of island-bound dwarves was quickly disparaged by many of his academic peers, who maintain the bones were more likely those of juvenile normal-sized humans. Michael Pietrusewsky, a University of Hawaii at Manoa anthropologist widely considered the preeminent authority on ancient South Pacific human remains, stated: “The more I read the paper, the more I am convinced it is complete nonsense and cannot be accepted as serious science.”

In a Nature piece on the Palauan discovery, reporter Rex Dalton described the controversy and Berger’s claims as a “crossfire between entertainment and science,” with entertainment winning. Dalton noted that Berger appears often on television, and that he and the National Geographic Society collaborated with a London production company, Parthenon Entertainment, to make a film of the Palauan finds.

Though National Geographic provides seed grants to scientists in an array of fields, many of whom produce valuable research, Dalton writes that “National Geographic is also a nonprofit media empire…. Its editors work to get featured discoveries by its funded researchers into both its flagship magazine and peer-reviewed journals at the same time. This arrangement can sometimes backfire, as it did in 2000 when the magazine featured a report of a flying dinosaur fossil that later turned out to be a cleverly faked composite. Berger’s project in Palau provides a behind-the-scenes view of when entertainment and science meet….” (Last month, National Geographic magazine’s nonprofit parent organization effectively sold it to a for-profit operation whose chief shareholder is one of Rupert Murdoch’s global media companies.)

Berger, for his part, remains largely undaunted by the controversy his work has engendered. In response to misgivings over his Palau project, he emailed Nature’s editors: “Might it be that such critics have not read our manuscript as carefully as is required of a sophisticated debate on human variation before commenting?”

H. naledi—or whatever it is—certainly isn’t a modern-day Piltdown Man. White emphasizes that the discovery constitutes a major event in paleoanthropology. To illustrate his point during his recent interview with California, he produced another photo of one of Berger’s fossils. Even to an untrained eye, it was clear that it included digit bones.

“That’s a complete hand,” White said, calling these the first fossils ever found of a probable Homo erectus hand. “This find is remarkable enough for what it is—a huge injection of new data important for understanding early hominid evolution. There was no need to turn it into something more than that. Speculations about mortuary ritual or the need for a new metaphor to describe evolutionary process are both unnecessary and unwarranted.”

Share this article:
Google+ Reddit

Comments

I doubt many scientists would view the National Geographic magazine as a scholarly peer-reviewed publication. But, it does bring interesting articles to the general public and serves to generate interest in topics that might otherwise go unnoticed in scientific journals. People who are stimulated by the NG article and want to learn more about H. naledi will go online and look for more scholarly articles. The comments in your article provide a different perspective of some of the findings of Berger and his colleagues, which is needed. I suspect that paleoanthropology will get a boost from such a discovery as it did following Johanson’s discovery of Lucy. Let’s hope so.
Biological species concept is still blurry, especially about fossils of H. sapiens. In my theory, the solution is dependent on whether the Macroevolution in Levant 150kya is true: https://t.co/pliCyEvBkm If true, Naledi seems a new species and perhaps a new genus as neither Homo nor Australopithecus.
This is an embarrassment for White and shows why he advised others to not say things without doing a little checking first. Some of the surface bones had been broken when cave explorers visited the site decades ago. This was obvious in video. Anybody who wants to download and print a copy of the main finds is free to do so. White is setting on his last find like a dragon guarding it’s hoard and the only person that brought up the missing link statement was a member of the press and was immediately told the term was not in vogue.
Soooo, that makes it ok to put out sloppy so-called scientific conclusions to the general public? This is not only disrespectful to the very group of people who are funding this type of research, but also sows the seeds of confusion and misinformation. How is it ok for scientists to do that? If paleoanthropology needs “boost” from this type of shenanigans, it really makes me wonder.
This fossil had a small brain capacity so it’s not a new species. It’s an ancestor of today’s liberals.
I find fascinating the Egos at loggerheads in this field. What is apparent here is the “old boy network” of the peer review system and the “new” system of open forum journals. The establishment in science would have all believe that it is the one human endeavor free from self-interest, self-promotion, the desire for fame and fortune… all in the search for truth. the drama does not make the field less interesting; it clearly adds to the popular interest of sometimes mundane work, but it also reveals the very human push and pull that is needed in the authentic search for the truth.
I was under the impression that alumni magazines are supposed to showcase actual accomplishments of faculty, staff, and students at their institutions, not just rebuttals to the work of other scholars. While White does have a noteworthy career and he does bring up a couple valid critiques and points of discussion about the important Homo naledi discovery, “California Magazine” seems like a very odd and inappropriate outlet for his views (as opposed to the scientific literature, or Dr. White’s personal blog, if he has one). This article appears to be a cheap attempt by Berkeley to themselves profit from the media coverage this new species is receiving, in spite of the fact that no one from Berkeley, or indeed, the UC system, was directly involved in the initial investigation of the Homo naledi fossil material.
Berger apparently made a point of collecting a bunch of fresh faces willing to work for little or nothing in return for the opportunity to do important research and get their name on an important paper they could use as a foundation for their resume. It was a good deal for all parties. However I’ve seen evidence that some of the old timers were at the least in the loop because they knew what was coming. Not really clear why White seems to have been left out. He doesn’t seem to have been networking effectively because he has ties with South Africa and did research there at one time. Berger noted White hasn’t been to South Africa in 10 yrs.
I watched the NatGeo doc on this “discovery”. As a layman I was really turned off out how much camera mugging and self flagellation this scientist was doing. He declared this a new species while ON SITE! I called BS and knew this would come back to haunt him.
I can categorically state that if my father, F. Clark Howell, were alive, he would strong dispute any suggestion that Tim White would ever personally pander for UC Berkeley, nor would he allow himself or his views to be exploited for such a purpose. My father regarded Tim as one of the most careful, cautious, and conscientious scientists he knew, and a paleoanthropologist of unimpeachable stature. Those are just some of the reasons he and Tim worked closely together for over thirty years. Brian Howell
With respect preventing yourself and your views from being exploited by others is very hard to do and exploiting the notoriety about your find and views or getting a little air time by commenting on the finds of others is how people get funding in this branch of science. For most funding is painfully hard to obtain if it can be obtained at all.
A marvellous find & great work, but unfortunately, the discoverers’ interpretations are anthropocentrically biased. This find is not unexpected (google aquarboreal): comparative anatomy suggests that Homo or Australopithecus naledi was no savanna runner as prof. Berger thinks, but a bonobo-like wetland wader, who fossilised in mudstone. The curved hand bones suggest vertical climbing in the branches above forest swamps, and the flat humanlike feet look more flamingo- (plantigrade wader) than ostrich-like (digitigrade runner). Lowland gorillas regularly & bonobos occasionally wade bipedally in swamp forests for sedges, waterlilies etc. (google bonobo wading), but naledi apparently habitually exploited this special niche (google gorilla bai). When they died, their bones sank in the mud, and when later the underground eroded, the mudstone got in the caves (google researchGate marc verhaegen).
I believe in science not science fiction. On December 9, 2010 in The New York Times science writer Nicolas Wade wrote: “Anthropologists have been thrown into turmoil about the nature and future of their profession after a decision by the American Anthropological Association at its recent annual meeting to strip the word ‘science’ from a statement of its long-range plan.” Pro-evolutionist, Bill Bryson in his best-seller “A Short History of Nearly Everything” wrote “If you correlate [fossil] tool discovery with the species of creature most found nearby, you would have to conclude that early hand tools were mostly made by antelopes…” He alsowrote of the ultimate arrogance of The American Museum of Natural History life-sized African diorama with two small, hairy homonid—based on a set of footprints! In China in 1999 National Geographic hailed the discovery of Archaeoraptor as “a great discovery of significant importance.” It was called “a true missing link in the complex chain that connects dinosaurs to birds.” It was discovered that this “missing link” was glued together from 88 fragments of mortar and bits of fossil and stone. National Geographic eventually conceded that the fossil was a fraud. (I have been a National Geographic member for over 15 years) Sometimes it seems that many anthropologists are still trying to make monkeys out of us. This is chicanery not science. This is weird imagination not science. This is absolute fraud. This is pure bunk.
I compared the flat humanlike feet of naledi to the plantigrade feet of flamingoes as opposed to the digitigrade feet of ostriches, but I was wrong: flamingoes are digitigrade, although their feet are much flatter than those of (also digitigrade) ostriches. In any case, comparative evidence shows that naledi were wetland waders, like bonobos or lowland gorillas collecting aquatic herbs in wetlands but much more frequently: that’s why they abundantly fossilised in mudstone, had curved hand-bones (for climbing vertically in the branches above the swamp like bonobos do) and had flat & more humanlike feet (for wading/swimming), google “aquarboreal”.
It is simply pathetic, and an indictment of the intellect of our species that there are minds such as Thom Mccann’s among us. This is not ad hominem, but recognition of how dogmatic and foolish a species we are that so many are so willfully ignorant. No wonder we’re doing nothing about global climate change. No wonder so many of us kill others to please the ONE TRUE GOD — several of them. I hope one day a uniformly intelligent, skeptical, and open-minded species is here in our place, or that we we’re gone and our giant brains and imaginations can no longer be misused for such inane drivel. Calculus, the laws of gravity, evolution, relativity, yes, but also such stupidity. On average, dolphins may be right there with us…
I realized after posting that not everyone would understand my sarcasm. I support Thom Mccann and his efforts to challenge the pro-evolutionist, pro-gravitation, and pro-heliocentrist movements. When will you fools realize that we know God’s (there’s just one) thoughts and plans, and he is working through us? Duh.
there says NOTHING about the feet!!!!!!!!!
You mean naledi’s feet, Wolfette? The flat humanlike forefeet are probably the prime reason why Berger placed naledi into Homo, and why he believed that naledi were distance runners: he thought: since naledi had adducted big toes like humans (who walk on the ground) as opposed to chimps, they walked like us. This is a logical mistake (called ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’). According to comparative & ontological data, the early hominids (sensu Pan-Homo-Gorilla+fossils) were already parttime bipedal waders in forest swamps (like bonobos still are parttime, google: bonobo wading) with flat forefeet more flamingo- than ostriche-like. Chimpanzees (re)evolved abducted big toes when they left the swamp and climbed more. OTOH, human ancestors had to use their flat feet for walking, although toe- & hoof-walking (digiti- & unguligrady) are more suited to running than our plantigrady (sole-walking). IOW, naledi (except its feet generally remarkably bonobo-like) is more likely a fossil relative of bonobos (Pan) than of us (Homo).
The declaration of new species should be subject to peer review as opposed to how it is done today. It should not be left to the judgment of the “discoverer.”
Indeed, John: fossil-hunters often believe “their” fossil is a human ancestor (anthropocentric fallacy). Prof.Berger is no exception: Homo or Australopithecus naledi was no ancestor of ours, they didn’t run over the savanna (endurance running fantasy), they didn’t make tools more than chimps do, and of course they didn’t bury their dead in caves: naledi’s accumulation was a completely natural process of swamp-living bonobo-like fossil apes (google: bonobo wading): their curved finger-bones indicate vertical climbing, their flat forefeet (flamingo- rather than ostrich-like) indicate wading-swimming, not running, they fossilised in mud-stone = stagant water. The comparative data are clear, but no, prof.Berger produces far-fetched “explanations” to make naledi a human ancestor. But is peer review the solution? Paleo-anthropologists have found more than 1000 fossils of “human ancestors”, but virtually no bonobo, common chimp & gorilla ancestors, although the ancestors of the African apes did live in Africa at least the last 5 Ma. Isn’t that remarkable: 1 species with say 1000 fossils, 3 species with 0 or 1 fossils… This is statistically impossible, even if human ancestors fossilised remarkably 1000 times more likely than African ape ancestors. And this incredibly anthropocentrism is repeated over & over in all textbooks of human evolution & even in Nature & Science & other peer-reviewed journals without questioning: “born to run”, “Man the Hunter”, “le singe coureur”, “Savannahstan” & more anthropocentric fantasies. The (non-anthropocentric) solution is simple: australopiths are fossil relatives not only of Homo, but also of Pan & Gorilla (google: verhaegen human evolution). Gorilla & chimp ancestors were more bipedal than living African apes: they waded vertically in the wetlands where their fossils were found, like lowland gorillas today but much more frequently (google: gorilla bai).
The theory, that the cave should be a burial ground, sounds unlikely. It might as well being a dump to prevent the stench of dead bodies attracting carnivores.
Thanks, Jan. IMO there’s no need for supposing burials (nor dumping dead bodies), AFAICS it was a completely natural accumulation of fossils (in fact, years ago we predicted naledi-like ancestors of Pan-Homo-Gorilla: vertical wetland dwellers with flat humanlike feet & curved hand-bones, google “aquarboreal”). Fossil-hunters see everywhere “human ancestors”: there are some 7 extant African hominoid species (1 bonobo, 3 common chimp, 1 human & 2 gorilla species), but fossils hunters find 1000s of “human” fossils & 0 or 1 fossils of the other 6 species. Isn’t that remarkable? Are they fooling themselves? They don’t do this consciously IMO (you get more funds & attention when you discover a human ancestor than when you discover an ape ancestor), they argue: apes live in forests, humans on the ground, hence we got humanlike feet to walk/run bipedally on the ground, naledi had humanlike feet, hence they were “already” bipedal. They can’t imagine that the LCA (last common ancestor) of Homo & Pan (& Gorilla) might have had more humanlike feet. In fact, prenatal chimps have feet resembling ours, with forward pointing big-toes: “only as it approaches its birth does its foot acquire the appearance of a hand” (S.C.Coon 1954). Naledi fossilised in mudstone = stagnant water. Bonobos & lowland gorillas still wade sometimes in stagnant waters for aquatic herbaceous vegetation (AHV: forgbit, papyrus, waterlilies…). Naledi lived in a much wetter & hotter climate, where forest swamps were probably a lot more abundant: naledi’s flat feet (more flamingo- than ostrich-like) suggest frequent wading-swimming, their curved hand-bones suggest vertical branch-climbing: they were ideally adapted to such wetlands (google illustrations at “bonobo wading”). They flat feet were not for running over the plains as prof.Berger believes, but for bipedal wading and/or for surface-swimming. Their long thumbs were not for tool-making as prof.Berger assumes, but simply for surface-swimming and/or for scooping AHV. When they died, their bodies sank in the mud, and when much later the underground eroded away (cave system), the mudstone sank, slid or fell into the caves. In short: we don’t need far-fetched “explanations”: there were no burials, naledi might swell have been Pan (bonobo?) rather than Homo ancestors, they were no distance-runners, and they didn’t make tools more than chimps do.
“This is not ad hominem…” Really? You have not answered the statements condemning anthropologist cases of outright lies Bill Bryson and I have presented. Similarly you weasel out of the arguments and try to present them as a religious issue. “Tu quoque” is not an answer or repudiation by an erudite person. You may try again but this time you failed to ring the bell and get no cigar.
Dr. White bristles at the discussion of the Naledi find indicating that burial (which could have been with OR without ritual) seems to have been practiced by this species. I am curious and would be very happy to learn what alternative theory Dr. White is inclined to hold to explain why this creature’s remains of many individuals are found in this difficult to access chamber, and found with no other animal remains? I’ve always respected Tim and I’m sure his thoughts on this specific question would be at least interesting.
Ah, ….Marrk Verheagen, the General Practitioner Family Doctor is still PREACHING his cherished so-called “Aquatic Ape Hypothesis.” Verheagen is tenacious if not given to rigor in his narratives.
Facts, dear Campbell, facts. Very simple: some ponts (which even you can understand if you had an open mind, although you even manage to spell my name 4 times wrong): 1) Naledi is much too recent (c 250 ka) & too apelike to be Homo. 2) Very curved hand- & moderately curved foot bones: frequent climbing. 3) Rather humanlike feet: these are not uniquely-human: they’re also seen in prenatal chimps, where they become handlike near birth (C.Coon). In any case, they contradict cursorial interpretations: naledi’s feet (long+strong 1st digital ray) were the opposite of what we seen in ostriches or kangaroos (long+strong 3rd digital ray). 4) Small anterior teeth: calorie-poor and/or abrasive foods, e.g. aquatic herbaceous vegetation as in bonobos (e.g. waterlilies) or lowland gorillas (e.g. papyrus sedges) wading bipedally for AHV, google “bonobo waterlilies” or “gorilla bai”. 5) Ape-like shoulders, thorax etc. No doubt regularly climbing. No need for savanna-running fantasies. 6) Small brain, excluding anthropocentric (pre-darwinian) ideas like “deliberate burial”. 7) Wide pelvis (iliac flaring) as in australopiths & archaic Homo (erectus etc.): for femoral abduction, incompatible with frequent running. 8) Primitive hands as in humans & monkeys (i.e. not for tool-making), only moderately elongated as in chimps. 9) Found in mud-stone, which forms in stagnant water. Erosion easily explains the accumulation in caves below. No need for far-fetched fantasies. Other fossil accumulations of hominids are e.g. Hadar (AL-333) & Atapuerca (both were also wetlands). 10) Etc. Generally very bonobo-like except some points above (esp. feet). Conclusion: naledi most likely is a fossil relative of chimps or (more likely IMO) bonobos, who much more often than extant ape species waded in wetlands or forest swamps, in search for AHV. Campbell, please, at least, inform first before talking FYI, google e.g. “Pan naledi 2017 Verhaegen”.
So, Mr our Ancestor wan an aquatic mammal that lived more in the water than on the land (your posiitin before you tried to start making sound a little more sane a few years back) : “Naledi is too recent to be Homo”. How about Trump, is he also much too recent to be Homo ? How about the skeleton of Howard Zinn or Dale Earndhartd, ….too recent to be homo ? You make a Freshman’s error: Erectus itself had a tenure on the planet of almost two million years. Anyone finding a very late individual fossil, some few tens of thousands of years old, might make the same mistake you’re making by conflating the age of that particular fossil with the age of the species. They might make this error you’re making IF they were wholly ignorant of the basic essentials of paleoanthropology. As for your name’s spelling, well, I hope you’ll grasp that this tidbit is a low priority here, Mr v. I just chuckle as I see your preaching your CUT & PASTE pieces around youtube and seeking converts to your homemade narrative anywhere else with an open comment box. You don’t seem to grasp that you’re addressing people more informed than you are on this topic.
So, Mr our Ancestor wan an aquatic mammal that lived more in the water than on the land (your posiitin before you tried to start making sound a little more sane a few years back) : “Naledi is too recent to be Homo”. How about Trump, is he also much too recent to be Homo ? How about the skeleton of Howard Zinn or Dale Earndhartd, ….too recent to be homo ? You make a Freshman’s error: Erectus itself had a tenure on the planet of almost two million years. Anyone finding a very late individual fossil, some few tens of thousands of years old, might make the same mistake you’re making by conflating the age of that particular fossil with the age of the species. They might make this error you’re making IF they were wholly ignorant of the basic essentials of paleoanthropology. As for your name’s spelling, well, I hope you’ll grasp that this tidbit is a low priority here, Mr v. I just chuckle as I see your preaching your CUT & PASTE pieces around youtube and seeking converts to your homemade narrative anywhere else with an open comment box. You don’t seem to grasp that you’re addressing people more informed than you are on this topic.
VeerHaggard, Homo Naledi was found in LIMESRTONE ….MNOT mudstone….those are not the same thing. I wonder if you realize that the discovers who pulled these skeletons out of a limestone cave actuallly had REAL Geologists on site. Cute tho, ..your sneaky tricky effort to try to convert this deposit site from LIMESTONE which it is into mudstone — which it is NOT. Here’s an elementary disambiguation between LIMESTONE, and mudstone for you. http://www.pitt.edu/~cejones/GeoImages/5SedimentaryRocks/ClasticSedRocks....
Fer them folks what can read a little : Mark Verhaegen’s Preaching that humans evolved in a mostly aquatic environment (& that Neanderthals had snorkels for noses) has long ago been deconstructed and debunked at length, so I’ll link this here is you need to see it. The short answer to VerHaggard’s worn & torn Pseudo-Sciency Palaver is to give its honest due — which requires IGNORING it. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ” Marc Verhaegen : ” Beginning in the early 1980s a medical doctor (general practitioner) from Belgium, Marc Verhaegen, penned a number of articles on his version of the AAT/H. In his version, rather than a limited time as an aquatic or semi-aquatic animal, virtually all of hominid evolution is “aquatic” — albeit without any meaningful explanation of what he means by “aquatic”. This is that problem with “ZING!ability” I mentioned on my “What is the AAT/H?” page — in Verhaegen’s hands their “aquaticness” varies from feature to feature and critic to critic, in an ad hoc zig-zagging that makes criticism difficult — when you point to one degree of water use, the creatures ZING! over to another degree of water use, ultimately being wherever he wants them to be at any given time to counter valid criticisms, no matter what inconsistencies this creates. You find this is virtually all AAT/H accounts after Hardy; the degree of “aquaticness” is, shall we say, awfully fluid. Verhaegen also entertains various other idiosyncrasies, such as positing Neanderthal noses as snorkels (due to sea otter-like diving habits, according to him). The more basic problems with Verhaegen’s work are the by now classic AAT/H environmental determinism, the also classic AAT/H special pleading regarding convergent evolution, the classic AAT/H strawman version of mainstream paleoanthropological theories (restricting them, inaccurately, to savannas, and not just any savannas, but the super-restricted AAT/H strawman version of savanna), and the — yes, classic — numerous false “facts”. http://www.aquaticape.org/verhaegen.html .
Mr Campbell, try to write without too many misspellings, your ranting (“Mr our Ancestor wan an aquatic mammal”?? Earndhartd?? etc.) is incomprehensible: are you a fan of your president?? Please try at least to answer the different points (10) I mentioned. It’s not difficult, schematically in short (made simple for you): generally bonobo-like + curved handbones + full plantigrady = swamp forest. OK? Which apes dwell in swamp forests? Yes, lowland gorillas, bonobos & orangutans frequently or occasionally dwell in forest swamps (see our paper in TREE “Aquarboreal ancestors?”), where they wade bipedally for aquatic herbaceous vegetation, google e.g. bonobo wading. This is apparently how naledi lived. They didn’t bury their dead in caves! They didn’t run over savannas as prof.Berger wants us to believe. They didn’t make tools more than chimps do. And they’re certainly not our ancestors as Berger believed. All these anthropocentrisms are pre-darwinian wishfull thinking. Google e.g. Pan naledi 2017 Verhaegen.
Mr Campbell, are you telling us that the limestone is only 250 ka?? It’s not difficult: wetland above, underground limestone, erosion. No need for deliberate burials. Besides, you don’t seem to understand that our view of naledi as bonobo-like wetland dwellers is not in the first place based on the geology, but on comparative anatomy: biologically it’s clear that naledi often climbed trees & waded bipedally in swamp forest, as different ape species still do (but less frequently than naledi did). Google: Pan naledi 2017 Verhaegen. And please provide links that can be opened.
Mister Veerhaggard, Lime stone is NOT mudstone. Homo Naledi was found in a Limestone cave OLDER than the Naledi fossils themselves. NO “mudstone” anywhere around. Please, tell us about Neanderthals’ “snorkle nose” Hahaha
addendum: Mr VerrHaggerd, Lee Berger has NOT asserted that Naledi is “our ancestor” (which ois why you can nOT cite him saying so. In interviews, Lee Berger has urged us to discuss Homonins as “human relatives” instead of human ancestors. By the way, YES Naledi is an obvious climber, as Berger explains. And, NO Naledi is NOT a wader — and you can NOT cite even ONE credible scholarly source who accepts your fictional assertion that Naledi is a wader.(PLEASE NOTE: linking to your own poorly written, not-at-al-researched screed is NOT a credible scholarly source.
Mr Campbell, please be relevant: I’m not interested in your prejudices: apparently you still believe that H.erectus ran over savannas (after antelopes?) to Dmanisi & Flores? Please try to say something sensible on the subject: naledi. Biologically, naledi is clearly some sort of wetland dwelling bonobo-like ape, google “Pan naledi? Verhaegen 2017”. And if you want some recent information on the littoral theory (early-Pleistocene Homo, not running over savannas, but simply following African & Eurasian coasts & rivers), please google “unproven assumptions so-called Aquatic ape hypothesis”.
Mr Veerhaggard, Neither Bonobos, chimps, Hominins, nor their primate antecedents were “waders.” That’s an INVENTION of your Religious-sect. Note: Hominins also didn’t come from the planet Krypton, but I will concur that there is EQUAL evidence that hominins came from Krypton as there is that hominins evolved as waders. Please teach us about the Neanderthals’s SNORKEL NOSE that you used to Preach about. Hahahaha. https://tinyurl.com/ycc4juku
Mr Veerhaggrd, Here is some help for you….to help you understand the DIFFERENCE between Limestone & “mudstone”. You see Naledi was found in a LIMESTONE cave far older than the fossils date from. But, you explain to us how the mudstone was the matrix for these fossils — trouble is, mudstone was NOT the matrix these fossils were in. - - - - - - - - ” Mudstone/Shale vs. Limestone Both limestone and mudstone/shale can ve very fine grained, so how do you tell them apart? Well, shales tend to break into thin, angular pieces whereas limestones tend to break into hard blocks. While mudstones also break into blocky pieces, they tend to be quite soft. You can rub dirt off of a mudstone whereas a limestone can rub your skin off of you! In outcrop, the greater fragility of mudstone and shale means that limestones (and sandstones and conglomerates) make layers that are more resistent to weathering. Mudstones and shales tend to form vegetated slopes whereas the other rock types can form cliffs and resistent beds.” https://tinyurl.com/yanbezkv
Back before everyone caught onto Marc Verhaegen’s Religious fetish promoting the concocted tale that Hominins evolved mostly in water and were meaningfully “aquatic archaic humans (or “aquatic apes”),” it used to seem necessary to deconstruct and debunk Mr VeerHaggard’s self-citing tall tales…many have done so: here is an adequate CUT & PASTE form those good ole days. #### #### “Marc Verhaegen Beginning in the early 1980s a medical doctor (general practitioner) from Belgium, Marc Verhaegen, penned a number of articles on his version of the AAT/H. In his version, rather than a limited time as an aquatic or semi-aquatic animal, virtually all of hominid evolution is “aquatic” — albeit without any meaningful explanation of what he means by “aquatic”. This is that problem with “ZING!ability” I mentioned on my “What is the AAT/H?” page — in Verhaegen’s hands their “aquaticness” varies from feature to feature and critic to critic, in an ad hoc zig-zagging that makes criticism difficult — when you point to one degree of water use, the creatures ZING! over to another degree of water use, ultimately being wherever he wants them to be at any given time to counter valid criticisms, no matter what inconsistencies this creates. You find this is virtually all AAT/H accounts after Hardy; the degree of “aquaticness” is, shall we say, awfully fluid. Verhaegen also entertains various other idiosyncrasies, such as positing Neanderthal noses as snorkels (due to sea otter-like diving habits, according to him). The more basic problems with Verhaegen’s work are the by now classic AAT/H environmental determinism, the also classic AAT/H special pleading regarding convergent evolution, the classic AAT/H strawman version of mainstream paleoanthropological theories (restricting them, inaccurately, to savannas, and not just any savannas, but the super-restricted AAT/H strawman version of savanna), and the — yes, classic — numerous false “facts”. Since I find that one relatively recent AAT/H proponent tactic is to claim that the only problems with any proponent’s ideas or claims are those I’ve written down here, let me stress that the following are by no means the only false “facts” that Marc Verhaegen uses or has used — in fact he uses so many that it’s difficult, time consuming, and even distressing, to go after them all. So I’m offering a few as examples, and using these examples to point out how unreliable, at best, his scholarship is. And the sources I give for his statements are not the only places he’s said these things; he tends to repeat himself, and cite himself, quite a lot. And I’ve also found a few quotes, from referees of a paper that Verhaegen co-wrote, to show that I’m hardly alone in recognizing this problem of his. With that in mind, here are only a few of the false “facts” Verhaegen has used or introduced into the discussion: He calls this one of the “features that clearly contradict the savanna theory and/or favour the (semi)aquatic theory”: “a body core temperature lower than 38°C” pg. 165, Verhaegen, “Aquatic Versus Savanna: Comparative and Paleo-Environmental Evidence”, Nutrition and Health, 1993, Vol. 9, pp. 165-191 and “In other words, humans have a normal temperature resembling that of sea mammals, lower than most terrestrial ones, and markedly lower than that of any active savannah species.” 1991 “Human regulation of body temperature and water balance”, in The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction? Edited by Machteld Roede, Jan Wind, John M. Patrick and Vernon Reynolds. Souvenir Press: London. And he repeats this in the sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup on Feb 7 2003: “humans have a normal temperature resembling that of sea mammals, lower than most terrestrial ones, and markedly lower than that of any active savannah species” First note, on this argument as well as the next, Verhaegen demonstrates a common tactic in AAT/H accounts (in addition to basing them on false “facts”), one which he has embraced with gusto, not only using it over and over in his work but taking it to extremes perhaps unmatched by any other AAT/H proponent. First, he ignores the fact that hominids did actually learn to live even on the open arid savannas that AAT/H proponents typically use as their strawman, doing just fine with those characteristics he claims can’t be found in savanna animals. He also imagines that in doing so we should have become like very distantly related animals (antelope, hunting dogs, etc.) instead of our primate relatives. In doing so, he ignores the central element of evolutionary theory — phylogeny, the relatedness of one living thing to another. Doing this is a bizarre element begun by Elaine Morgan and which has since become common to much of the AAT/H as put forth by virtually all its proponents. And finally, he ignores primates, especially those primates which live in the type of open arid savanna he uses as a strawman — no doubt he does so because the characteristics he’s claiming can’t be found in savanna animals are found in those open savanna primates. Our body temperatures are in fact very much like our primate relatives, including those which live in savannas. There’s a lot of information on this on the “Body Temperature and the AAT/H” page. It is certainly not like distantly related savanna animals such as the ungulates Verhaegen thinks we should resemble, and this is to be expected — why AAT/H proponents are continually surprised that we resemble other primates far more than antelope and other distantly related animals has always amazed and perplexed me. He also calls this one of the “features that clearly contradict the savanna theory and/or favour the (semi)aquatic theory”: “daily temperature fluctuations of less than 1°C” pg. 166, Verhaegen, “Aquatic Versus Savanna: Comparative and Paleo-Environmental Evidence”, Nutrition and Health, 1993, Vol. 9, pp. 165-191 Human body temperature actually typically varies 2-3 degrees during the day even without strenuous exercise; exercise makes it vary even more. As with the ear exostoses mentioned later, the obvious question here is how can a medical doctor be ignorant of the medical literature on such a well-known and basic characteristic about which accurate information is so readily available? The antelopes that Verhaegen, in the article cited, thinks we should resemble have specialized adaptations to allow their body temperatures to rise quite high (compared to primates) while keeping their brains cool enough to survive. It should not be surprising that relatively unrelated animals in similar environments use different methods to accomplish the same goal (in this case staying cool enough to live) since this is extremely common. You do not simply go down to the “Adaptation Store” and pick out a feature you think sounds nifty — evolution simply does not work that way and this has been known for, literally, centuries. Well, not known to Verhaegen, it seems, but known certainly to any reasonably thoughtful person. :) He also calls this one of the “features that clearly contradict the savanna theory and/or favour the (semi)aquatic theory”: “ventro-ventral copulation” pg. 166, Verhaegen, “Aquatic Versus Savanna: Comparative and Paleo-Environmental Evidence”, Nutrition and Health, 1993, Vol. 9, pp. 165-191 Verhaegen here expects us to give up a trait we find in various non-human primates (seen in orangutans, black-handed spider monkeys, and occasionally in woolly spider monkeys and gorillas) because of a change in environment — certainly this must be one of the most extreme examples of the AAT/H’s environmental determinism. Again, it’s amazing and perplexing that AAT/H proponents are continually baffled by our resemblance to our closest relatives. He has claimed that seawater is potable to humans: “Never heard of the Bombard experiments? French Navy IIRC. When one gradually shifts to drinking small frequent bits of seawater + eating fish, it’s possible to survive for months.” Verhaegen, May 8, 2004 sci.anthropology.paleo This is incredibly stupid, and dangerous — it’s completely false and if followed, would result in extreme ill-health and, if continued, death. How a medical doctor could believe such nonsense is incredible to me. The experiments of Dr. Alain Bombard, and the subsequent followup experiments by the French Navy, did not show what Verhaegen claims they did. Dr. Bombard did an experiment where he drifted in a raft across the Atlantic, supposedly without any rations being used other than things he got from the sea. I say supposedly because he did carry fresh water and provisions which he was not supposed to use, and it may be that he didn’t, but Dr. Hannes Lindemann, who later did several similar experiments with more data reported, also reported that Bombard was reprovisioned at sea at least twice, with photos of one of these times being printed in a Dutch newspaper. Regardless, Bombard did definitely do something that was difficult at best and came through alive and in relatively good health, although anemic and having lost 55 pounds in 65 days, and he did (and does) advocate the drinking of small amounts of seawater as an emergency measure. His voyage seems to very often be inaccurately reported (although generally not so inaccurately as Verhaegen did). His idea was to start off drinking seawater and getting fresh water temporarily (until he could collect rain) from crushing chucks of fish (which he would catch) in a press, and using a fine net to get plankton for Vitamin C, the major dietary necessity he couldn’t get from fish. This is problematic, however, as Lindemann found that one couldn’t get fresh water from fish in such a manner, not surprising since their bodily fluids are saline. Nevertheless, Bombard claimed he managed to do so and survived in this way for some days, although I don’t find it clear just how many, not having his book before me. What I find mentioned online is that he drank seawater (in addition to his fish juice, apparently) for no more than 3 to 6 days at a time, but that rain didn’t come for 23 days. This would suggest that he used other water before he got the rainwater. At any rate, after the rains started, his problem was not lack of fresh water, in fact, he joked that he might drown in it if the rain kept up, and after several such rains he had more than enough rainwater for his voyage. The French Navy experiments suggested that small amounts of salt water could be drunk starting right away when the body was well hydrated, and that if you then drank fresh water after several days your body could then flush out excess salt. It must be stressed that they, and Dr. Bombard, considered this an emergency measure only, as they recognized that it’s not a healthy thing to do — their suggestion was simply that it could be used to stave off death at some cost to short-term health. They also recognized that seawater can only be used safely if used in small amounts and with fresh water being available soon to help dilute it and flush out the excess salt from the body. The dangers of salt buildup are loss of mental functions, general lethargy, and the danger of complete renal shutdown (which keeps the kidneys from getting rid of many of the body’s toxins and results in a fairly rapid deterioration and death). It should be noted that Dr. Lindemann considered the drinking of seawater to be an extremely bad idea, and that no one (no one in their right mind) would suggest that seawater could be used as a water source (without desalination) for humans for more than an extremely brief period — a few days at most — Verhaegen’s suggestion that it could be done for months is absurd. Claims that supernumerary kidneys (extra kidneys) are common in humans: “Humans have 10-12 papillae in every kidney, and frequently an extra (third or fourth) kidney.” pg. 169, Verhaegen, “Aquatic Versus Savanna: Comparative and Paleo-Environmental Evidence”, Nutrition and Health, 1993, Vol. 9, pp. 165-191 Supernumerary kidneys are actually a rare occurrence, something well known and something one might reasonably expect a medical doctor to know even if he hadn’t done any research on it (which of course he should have done before making the statement): “Supernumerary kidneys This is usually seen as a double kidney on one side and occurs in less than 1% of births.” Klinik und Poliklinik für Urologie, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland “They are relatively rare…” The Encyclopaedia of Medical Imaging Volume IV 2 “Supernumerary kidneys Third kidney is very rare and not to be confused with relatively-common, unilateral duplication of the renal pelvis.” www.patient.co.uk On exostoses in Neanderthals and Homo erectus skulls: “The auditory canals of their skulls often show exostoses of a kind that is only seen in humans that swim almost daily in water colder than 18-20°” pg. 171, Verhaegen, “Aquatic Versus Savanna: Comparative and Paleo-Environmental Evidence”, Nutrition and Health, 1993, Vol. 9, pp. 165-191 and “Ear exostoses, Anne, are only found in populations that dive (usu. for shellfsh).” Jan 11, 1999 sci.anthropology.paleo “We have the ear exostoses (only seen in long-term cold water divers)…” May 11 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo “Auditory exostoses, bony swellings of the ear canal, a condition well-known to otolaryngologists, occur exclusively as a direct result of long-term exposure to relatively cold water…” Jan 10 1999 sci.anthropology.paleo “The auditory exostoses in Ns prove that those people frequently dived in water colder than 19°C.” Apr 30 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo These are bony growths in the ear canal, seen in a small number of Neanderthal (apparently 2) and Homo erectus fossils (apparently 1), that Verhaegen says only occur after a great deal of time (he usually says years) either swimming or diving. He calls them “undeniable indications of frequent diving” (sometimes he says swimming) and says that they must have been wading and diving because “Their ear exostoses leave no other choice…” (ellipses in original — links to these posts are in the references). But ear canal exostoses actually can be due to almost any irritation, most commonly either cold air or cold water. They are not due only to cold water, as he repeatedly claims, and this is widely known and readily available in medical texts (and Verhaegen is a medical doctor). Even online medical sources mention this: “Exostoses occur when the external canal is repeatedly exposed to cold air or water.” “Geriatric hearing loss: Understanding the causes and providing appropriate treatment” by Michelle C. Marcincuk, MD and Peter S. Roland, MD “Exostoses are bone growths that often develop when the ear canal is repeatedly exposed to cold water or cold air.” Yale New Haven Health Library “The exciting cause of ear exostoses, where the predisposition to these exists, may be anything mechanical or chemical that produces prolonged irritation, with consequent hyperaemia to inflammation of any part of the bony meatus.” Ales Hrdlicka quoted in Dry Bones, Chapter 4.” The obvious question here is how can a medical doctor be ignorant of the medical literature on such a well-known ailment about which accurate information is so readily available? But certainly ear exostoses are associated with — though not exclusive to — swimming and diving, and do in fact help show whether a population is regularly engaged in these activities… but this, rather than being a boon for Verhaegen’s claims actually helps negate them. If Neanderthals were, as he claims, swimming and diving regularly, you’d expect to see far more specimens with ear exostoses. But we don’t — we see two. This, frankly, sounds a lot like the normal percentages you see in regular, average populations (which range from about 3-10% — and in some inland groups as high as 20% — while coastal populations show around 30%). And in modern humans who actually do a lot of swimming and/or diving, the percentage is even higher, in the 40% or more ranges. So it seems that: a) Verhaegen is wrong that ear exostoses could only have come about through swimming and diving, and b) The small number of such exostoses in hominid fossils is evidence against their being in any degree aquatic rather than being evidence for it. Verhaegen “solves” this problem in classic (and all too typical) AAT/H proponent fashion: “The presence of AEs proves diving habits, their absence does not.” Verhaegen, May 4 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo i.e., if the evidence is for you, embrace it; if the evidence turns against you, wave it away — better yet, do both at once!. On “semi-aquatic” or “predominately aquatic” rhinos, “semi-aquatic” mountain beavers: (for instance mountain beavers in Marc Verhaegen and Pierre-François Puech, 2000, “Hominid lifestyle and diet reconsidered: paleo-environmental and comparative data”, Human Evolution 15: 151-162; rhinos (“3 of the 5 species of rhino are as aquatic as hippos are”) online on 1999/05/29, in print (rhinos claimed to be “predominately aquatic”) in Marc Verhaegen, 1985, in “The aquatic ape theory: evidence and a possible scenario”, Medical Hypotheses 16:17-32) As is common for AAT/H proponents, Verhaegen seems to think any animal which sometimes or seasonally wades is correctly classed as semi-aquatic (or even “predominately aquatic” as he’s said for rhinos). Mountain beavers (a very interesting little mammal of western North America; they’re very shy and have very primitive kidneys for a mammal) are not even semi-aquatic; Verhaegen is either confused by the name or thinks that liking — in some mountain beavers — damp burrows makes one “semi-aquatic”. This is not so in any reasonable sense of the term — and if he was confused by the name it shows he did astonishingly little research on the animals. The “aquatic rhinos” claim I’ve dealt with on the “Rhinos, Pigs, and selective evidence” page. “hairless” male steller’s sea lions, walrus (for instance Feb 22 1999 (“Male Steller sealions have neck hairs, but are otherwise furless.”), Dec 14 2002, Dec 27 2002 in sci.anthropology.paleo) Verhaegen has been making this claim regularly for years, yet the real facts are not only well known but easily available, for instance in general encyclopedias. And since the advent of the web search it has taken only minutes at most to find these facts, yet Verhaegen still didn’t know this one until I pointed it out to him in 2005 (in response to his post which began “I think not, you fool” to my post which accurately said “I think Marc has incorrectly claimed that Steller’s sea lions are hairless except for the male’s mane.”) This speaks of either incredibly poor research or deliberate dishonesty — which one it is in Verhaegen’s case I don’t know for sure — although the latter seems more likely since, although he hasn’t yet repeated this false claim in a newsgroup he did repeat it the following month in his own Yahoo group (“…but mammals that spend some time outside the water in cold regions retain fur, except the very large adult male Steller sealions, walruses and elephant seals.” Nov 15, 2004). And I know he saw my post because he not only replied to it, but, quite uncharacteristically, admitted he was wrong and thanked me for pointing it out, so his repeating the claim later can’t be excused by ignorance. Actual facts: Walrus, from http://www.pinnipeds.org/species/walrus.htm “Females and younger males have a relatively thick brown fur. Older males have a thinner coat of hair that allows you to see their skin…” Steller’s sea lion, from North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium (four participating institutions: the University of Alaska, the University of British Columbia , the University of Washington, and Oregon State University). http://www.marinemammal.org/steller_sea_lion/steller_sea_lion_fastfacts.php “Coat: Male Steller sea lions have a thick mane. To protect themselves from the cold temperatures and from jagged rocks, Steller sea lions have thick coarse fur when dry, and smooth, slick fur that lies flat against the skin when wet. Stellers molt for about 4 weeks in the late summer, or early fall.”) From 2003 COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) Assessment and Update Status Report on the Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus in Canada “Pelage of both sexes is comprised of short coarse hairs.” pg. 11 From a study on moulting patterns which describes how the pattern of the moult over the body of bull Steller sea lions is similar to that in females. Note that at no time is the body of bulls or females not covered with hairs, either the old hairs or the new ones pushing the old ones out during the moult. 1999 The Timing of Moulting in Wild and Captive Steller Sea Lions (Eumetopias jubatus) by Raychelle G. Daniel “Steller sea lions do not undergo a catastrophic moult, with a sloughing of the entire epidermal layer, similar to elephant seals. Instead, each new hair replaces and pushes out the old hair from the shared follicle.” pg. 10 “Bulls appeared to moult in a similar fashion to later moulting adult females” pg. 31 “most-sweating” sea lions: “nonsense… Don’t you know, bk, that the most sweating mammals known are furseals on land” Verhaegen, Dec 25 2003 sci.anthropology.paleo “The most-themoregulatorily-sweating mammals besides humans are sea-lions at the shore…” Verhaegen, Jan 17 2004 sci.bio.evolution Verhaegen has often claimed that the animal, after humans, which uses sweat cooling the most is the sea lion (sometimes he says the fur seal, but when he does this he is apparently confusing this bogus claim of his with the “eccrine sweating seal” bogus claim of his that I describe next): I go through the process of explaining how wrong this is on my “Skin, sweat, and glands” page. Perhaps the most damning aspect of this claim of Verhaegen’s is that the contrary info, the info that shows it to be wrong, is in the very references he uses to attempt to support his claim. This indicates that either he didn’t read the references he used, or that he did and deliberately reported it incorrectly. On eccrine seal sweating: For instance “fur seals are the only non-human mammals which sweat thermoactively through abundant eccrine glands” in 1991 “Human regulation of body temperature and water balance”, in The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction? Edited by Machteld Roede, Jan Wind, John M. Patrick and Vernon Reynolds. Souvenir Press: London. (and Dec 28 2002 (“Thermoactive eccrine sweating is abundant in sealions & humans on land. I have no examples of this in other mammals.”), Dec 30 2002 (“Abundant eccrine thermoactive sweating is only seen in humans & sealions on land.”) in sci.anthropology.paleo) He apparently got the bogus “eccrine seal sweating” claim from Morgan (same statement, same reference) and this is something that is easily shown to be untrue, and which I pointed out wasn’t true back in November of 1995. (He also sometimes seems to get this confused with his “most sweating” bogus claim and claims that this claim refers to “sea lions” but then further confuses things by parenthetically explaining that by “sea lion” he’s referring to the “Pribilof fur seal”.) I go through the process of explaining the reality (or rather the lack of it) behind this claim on my “Skin, sweat, and glands” page. This false claim is not only damning in itself, it’s also an example of “incestuous citing”, which I describe further below. One of the odder claims Verhaegen has made is the “snorkel” idea; it has two parts. First he claims that proboscis monkeys use their noses as a snorkel when swimming, which is simply untrue. “All elephants & proboscis monkeys use the nose as a snorkel to cross rivers or to swim.” Verhaegen, May 4 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo Look, this simply isn’t true — proboscis monkeys hold their heads up out of water far enough so their nose clears the surface, just like other moneys do, and in fact just as most other mammals do, including humans when they do the dog paddle, which is the swimming stroke that primates — and most all mammals use other than specialized swimmers — use. He’s also claimed that baby proboscis monkeys float on their backs when swimming with their mothers, when they actually cling — usually to the mother’s back, but sometimes to the mother’s front, underwater, during short swims. Then he claims that Neanderthals looked the way they did because they had sea otter-like habits, floating on their backs cracking clams, while their noses acted like snorkels (he also claimed, at least for some years, that Neanderthals’ nostrils were on the tops of the noses instead of the bottom). So ridiculous is this notion that even Verhaegen seemed to feel embarrassed by it when it came up online: “*I* didn’t come up with “snorkels” here. Some antiAATer did. No doubt, to ridicule AAT instead of discussing it.” Verhaegen, Dec 5 2001 sci.anthropology.paleo And indeed one did (Phillip Bigelow on April 1st of 1998) but he did so by accurately quoting none other than Marc Verhaegen’s claim, in a 1991 Medical Hypotheses article, that “In a Neanderthal swimming on his back, the large nose with distal nostrils and the protruding midface surrounded by large sinuses functioned as a snorkel.” It seems hypocritical of Verhaegen to decry someone bringing up one of his own statements because the statement might “ridicule AAT”. “Besides, O.Hauser, who discovered the Moustier Neandertal, said the Neand.nostrils were on the top of the nose rather than underneath it.” Verhaegen, Sept 18 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo And he claimed on several occasions that Hauser (who was famous for being an unreliable amateur fossil finder who, among other archaeological sins, reburied and unearthed the Moustier specimen several times so he could “discover” it for important visitors) saw the soft tissues of the nose of this fossil: (as Otto Hauser described after the discovery in 1908 of the Moustier fossil: soft tissues can often still be discerned after unearthing, in the seconds or minutes before the soft tissues fall apart). Verhaegen, Apr 3 and 28 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo This is nonsense. And his source was a popular book written decades after the fact, not anything by Hauser (which is available, after all). So not using a primary source, using a pop book as a reference for a scholarly article — these are horribly bad policy for supposedly scholarly work — but even worse, it’s not even what Verhaegen’s reference source really said. What Hauser supposedly saw (and since he was a notoriously unreliable excavator and self-promoter we can’t be sure he’s even saying that honestly) was an imprint in flint flakes that were under the skull. We have only Hauser’s word for this, and it seems unwise to trust him given his history — even more unwise to trust his claim secondhand. So why did Verhaegen do so? He was asked that online, and he replied “I once read it somewhere, and I believe everything what I read…”. Don’t do that. Verhaegen has gradually changed his view from a snorkel-nosed sea otter-like swimming Neanderthal with nostrils on the tops of their noses to just a snorkel-nosed sea otter-like swimming Neanderthal with nostrils on the ends of their noses. I guess that’s an improvement (but I’d suggest you not follow his lead). “If you had read me carefully, you should have known that IMO an external nose arises only (& not necessarily) when a mammal starts becoming aquatic…” Verhaegen, Jun 26 1998 sci.anthropology.paleo Besides several species of bat (the long-nosed and the leaf-nosed, for example) there’s the saiga antelope: “The most striking feature of a saiga is its large head with a huge mobile nose that hangs over its mouth.” (Animal Diversity Web) And where do they live? “Saiga tatarica inhabit dry steppes and semi deserts.” (Animal Diversity Web) Again, just making things up is not the route to good science. “Incestuous citing” is a method whereby a “fact” that has no backing can be made to seem to have backing by citing a source within a circle of like-minded researchers — not a source with accurate information, but one who has inaccurate information, sometimes bogus interpretations, sometimes speculation, sometimes simply made up “facts”. Incestuous citing can even be done by citing yourself. This is one of the ways that “false facts” can “endure long”, as Darwin said, and can be done either as a deliberate deception or completely unintended, as is done many times in urban legends. For instance, the urban legend about “drinking 8 glasses of water a day” was simply repeated, apparently honestly, for years (at least) before a researcher looked into it and found no basis for it — the fact that so many people said it made it easy to find some source one could cite saying it, but at the root of all those people saying it there was, it turned out, nothing to support the claim. Possibly the most common sources in AAT/H circles of incestuous cites is Elaine Morgan, because she has written so much, and so many “false facts”, on a variety of subjects dealing with the AAT/H. Besides the bogus seal sweat cite I mentioned just above, one common cite, used by Verhaegen as well as others, is Morgan’s claim that the proboscis monkey is either commonly, predominantly, or often bipedal on land. There is no evidence for this — in fact it’s contrary to primatologist’ observations, but it refuses to die (exactly as Darwin suggested “false facts” would endure) because one can always cite Morgan as saying it, even though she just made it up after seeing a short segment of a nature film. False “facts” like this are common in some politically motivated debates over science and are often called “zombies” now because they refuse to die (examples abound in issues like DDT use and various anti-global warming claims). On the subject of diving there’s an example brought up by referee 11 below (see referees’ remarks). These are nowhere near the only such incestuous cites within AAT/H circles; in fact such cites seem to be becoming more and more common as the group of AAT/H proponents grows. Let me stress, as I did above, that these few examples are not the only examples available, despite that recent tactic by AAT/H proponents suggesting that the only problems with any proponent’s ideas or claims are those I’ve written down here. I’m simply offering a few examples out of many such possible examples. Referees remarks to one of Verhaegen’s papers The following remarks are by referees for a paper that Marc Verhaegen co-wrote, which were in an online version of the paper that he offered for download. That version (with the remarks) is no longer online, as far as I’ve seen, and instead he has a differently titled version of what is essentially the same paper available (the original version without the remarks is still available online). The original was apparently in the poster session of a conference, the “3rd Conference on The Evolution of Language April 3rd - 6th , 2000” as “The Origin of Phonetic Abilities: A Study of the Comparative Data With Reference to the Aquatic Theory” (and the written version with the remarks was apparently intended for the published proceedings of that conference) and the new, barely changed version was published as “Possible Preadaptations to Speech. A Preliminary Comparative Approach” by Marc Verhaegen and Stephen Munro in Human Evolution 19: 53–70, 2004. The changes were minor, such as changing “goldfish” to “small fish” in the following: OLD: “Humans do not have to chew raw oysters in order to eat them, and can swallow goldfish whole.” NEW: “Humans do not have to chew raw oysters in order to eat them, and are able to swallow small fish whole.” This was apparently in response to one of the referees (referee 6, below) mentioning the “goldfish” remark unfavorably, but unfortunately Verhaegen and Munro didn’t change any of the botched references and other problems mentioned (see especially referee 11 below). Why he left these remarks in I don’t know, but they are illuminating so we can only thank him for doing so. Note especially the middle section of the quoted comment by referee 11, which hits on just what is so difficult about countering the AAT/H proposals — it describes a central problem with virtually every account by virtually every author — certainly the best known and most influential ones which are by Morgan and Verhaegen: “A free-ranging, poorly focused paper on “phonetic preadaptations for language”.” … “All in all, an undisciplined paper with little serious insight to offer.” — referee 5 “I can confess to knowing so little about the AAT that I am neither for nor against it in principle. I welcomed the opportunity to read this paper, as a way of informing myself about the central issues. However, I found it extremely difficult to extract the basic shape of an argument from this paper, and I fear that any reader coming to the theory for the first time would have the same problem. This could be argued not to be an issue, if the paper offered something of significance to those who already know about the theory, but as far as I can tell, this is not the case.” “To be specific, the paper seems to dance around a set of general assumptions about the AA theory, without ever articulating them. Yet, in the detail that is given, I could not find any clear indication of what the authors were saying that was new. It seems to all be a reiteration of established observations, and though the authors do, no doubt, offer new insights, it simply isn’t clear to the reader where they are.” “Through much of the paper, I could not see where the account was going, nor what the relationship was to the general question that needs to underlie all papers in this book, namely, ‘how did language originate?’. There are certainly snippets of relevance here, but there is no coherent story at all. If the paper is accepted, then the authors must pay some serious attention to the ‘so what?’ factor, and explain, at regular intervals, where they are going with the account, why, and how it is relevant to the underlying question.” … “p.9 para 3 of ‘Feeding – mouth and tongue’, what is the purpose of the observation that humans can swallow oysters whole, and why on earth are goldfish mentioned (who is swallowing goldfish whole other than a character in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’?)” — referee 6 “This paper is, loosely speaking, an argument for the AAT of human origins. However, the paper does not attempt a specific argument in favor of the AAT but instead adopts the strategy of presenting a loosely-organized mass of data all of which is intended to have some bearing on the AAT. Thus the paper consists of a collection of “facts”, some of questionable veracity, assembled in support of the AAT, mostly drawn from the literature on this subject. Many of the statements that are made are not supported by references at all, and many (if not most) of the supporting references that are cited are inappropriate, inaccurate or both. For example, humans are cited on page 3 as being more efficient divers that other primates, but the citations are all to other AAT papers, and only one (an unpublished Swedish PhD thesis) actually contains data relevant to this claim, and in fact concerns only human diving, not that of other primates. Unpublished abstracts by Fitch and Ohala are cited instead of the appropriate and abundant peer-reviewed publications. Other citations are simply inaccurate (the Schlaug et al 1995 [note misspelling of author’s name] paper does not show enlargement of “temporal cortex” in response to musical training, but simply raises this possibility in discussion). Deacon ‘s (1997) “Symbolic Species” is cited repeatedly (7 times) as if it were a source of primary data, when it is a popular book. Other of the “facts” presented are simply incorrect.” … “It would take days to go through the paper and fill in all of the missing references, eliminate the incorrect ones, and check each one of the citations.” … “I am not usually harsh about reviews. So it may be worth explaining that I am sympathetic to the AAT, think there’s something to the hypothesis, and I certainly believe that it deserves air time. This said, I am frustrated by a propensity shown by proponents of this theory to shoehorn data into a form that seems to support the AAT, and to ignore data that goes against it. The current paper is a mess in terms of both the “facts” and the citations.” — referee 11 There are several aspects of Verhaegen’s online arguing style that may sound like ad hominem complaints (and which I thought of not pointing out for that reason) but which I think are indicative of his methods over and above the problems I mentioned above. Online, besides his numerous insults in several languages, he commonly makes comparisons of himself and/or the AAT/H to Wegener (starting with his very first online post, after only a few days online), and he also commonly makes more offhand comparisons of himself and/or the AAT/H to Darwin, Galileo, and Einstein, as well as comparing the AAT/H theory to Copernicus’). This something that virtually all “net kook” or “crackpot” indexes feature as a prominent warning sign (probably the best known of these indexes is “The Crackpot Index: A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics” by John Baez). Another suspect tactic is inflating credentials; in Verhaegen’s case he’s done this by claiming an affiliation with “Studiecentrum Antropologie”. It turns out that “Studiecentrum Antropologie” is not a real institution at all, as Marc explains to a supporter in his Yahoo group: “In fact, it’s “Studiecentrum Antropologie”. My Instutution is not very large (about 1 room) :-D but if you want to get something published, I thought you better have some Institution. I got this idea after a correspondent on mine (Jos Verhulst) created his “Louis Bolk Centre” (about 2 rooms) for the same reason.” If you read the sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup, you may see him referred to by his nickname, “macro-man”, which he got due to his habit of continually posting one of a few versions of an uninformative mishmash of his theory without regard to whether it’s at all apropos to the thread in question. This behavior in others (common among creationists, for instance) has been described, in a lighthearted but nevertheless serious and accurate way, as “Argumentum ad Assertion Repetitio ad Nauseam”. Here’s an example: In 1960 Alister Hardy (“Was Man more aquatic in the past?” New Scientist) described how a sea-side lifestyle - wading, swimming, collecting edible shells, turtles, crabs, coconuts, seaweeds etc. - could explain many typically human features that are absent in our nearest relatives the chimps, and that cannot be explained by savanna scenarios: very large brain, greater breathing control, well-developed vocality, very dextrous hands, stone tool use, reduction of climbing skills, reduction of fur, thicker subcutaneous fat tissues, very long legs, more linear body build, high needs of iodine, sodium & poly-unsaturated fatty acids etc. Hardy was only wrong at the time in thinking this seaside phase happened more than 10 Ma. Early Pleistocene Homo fossils or tools have been found in Israel, Algeria, E.Africa, Georgia, Java. When sea levels dropped during the Ice Ages, H.ergaster-erectus followed the Mediterranean & Indian Ocean coasts. Although most Pleistocene coasts are some 100 m below the present sea level (IOW the fossil & archaeological record often shows the inland Homo populations that entered the continents along the rivers) Homo remains have frequently been found amid shells, corals, barnacles etc., in European, African & Asian coasts, throughout the Pleistocene (eg, Mojokerto, Terra Amata, Table Bay, Eritrea), and even on islands that could only be reached oversea (Flores 0.8 Ma). The reason Verhaegen is such a source of false “facts” and nonsensical statements is perhaps explained by his incredible admission in response to someone asking why he believed a particular piece of nonsense: “I once read it somewhere, and I believe everything what I read, at least until I find evidence of the opposite.” This folks, when it comes to science, is a recipe for disaster. Update 1 July 2009: I see that several times in the past year (17 April 2009, 09 Jan 2008, and 20 Sep 2008) Marc Verhaegen made online attempts to squirm out of this bizarre quote of his, once even starting a new thread to attempt to push this rewriting of context. moore is even too stupid to realise that this was about his savanna nonsense: i believed it until the facts proved it nonsense Marc Verhaegen 17 Apr 2009 sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup But in fact his statement (Marc Verhaegen 8 January 1999 sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup in reply to Dan Barnes’ post of 8 Jan 1999) was not about savannahs, but about Neaderthal nostrils: (Verhaegen 4 Jan 1999): >>I had got the impression that at the >>moment of the discovery, before the soft parts fell apart, the nose etc. had >>been discernable for a short time (I believe it’s less than a few minutes). (Barnes 8 Jan 1999): >Where did you get this information from as it is clearly wrong? Verhaegen (8 Jan 1999): I once read it somewhere, and I believe everything what I read, at least until I find evidence of the opposite. https://tinyurl.com/ycc4juku
Try to write without misspellings, Mr Campbell, calm down, please don’t shout.
Herr VerHaggard, Please explain in detail the SNORKELS you claim Neanderthal had for breathing under water. And please explain the heavy head of Homo Erectus that you claim evolved to help Erectus dive for food on the bottom of bodies of water. And, if there happens to be anyone here interested in Herr VerHaggrd’s elaborate narrative fictions, this paper can be googled by name….wherein Herr VerHaggrd explains that Homo Erectus had heavy skull bones, TO AID AS DIVING BALLAST. ” Pachyosteosclerosis in Archaic Homo: Heavy Skulls for Diving, Heavy Legs for Wading?” or click the link below Hahahahaha: Hey, I’ve got this great idea about a story that centers around a Ring, some elves, some dwarfs, and Bilbo Baggins and the other the inhabitants of Hobbitown. You see, I picture the evolutionary antecedents of the Hobbits & Elves & Dwarfs as being an aquatic mammal that evolved the physiology necessary to exploit a lifestyle based on diving & swimming & living in the water, probably salt water. Her Verhaggard, the family general practice physician with ZERO university training in paleoanthropology, will be invited to bring his considerable fiction writing skills ton the project. https://tinyurl.com/y9qm7wo7
In viewing the skull comparatives it appears to be clear from the photo’s at least that the H. Naledi skull is less elongated than the other representation and more spherical. Further, it appears that the face of the skull is far less protruded. From the finding published it is possible that one might find the variance of the H.N. skull from H. Erectus skull to be subtle but definitive. It is probable this is a variation of H.E. that simply adaptively evolved based on habitat living conditions and environment. Nothing disclosed from the Burger team findings thus far points to an absolute differentiation of species nor a missing link. This opinion does not rule out any possibility that enough science may be applied such that findings to the contrary may be deduced and verified. There is simply, in my humble opinion, not enough fact based science in evidence to support any radical claims at this juncture. We are looking forward to more fact based findings, good hunting. tal
Cambel, my boy, please inform & think a bit before writing: your only “argument” is childishly misspelling my name. Every serious paleo-anthropologist knows that Pleistocene Homo dispersed intercontinentally as far as Mojokerto, Flores, Dungo V, Happisburgh, Crete etc., not running over the savannas (where water & salt are scarce) as you still believe, but simply following African & Eurasian coasts & rivers, where brain-specific foods are abundant: DHA, taurine, iodine etc. Google e.g. -not Homo but Pan naledi 2017, -Attenborough Schagatay Brenna reply, -original econiche Homo, -unproven assumptions so-called aquatic ape hypothesis.
NO hominin ancestor (or ‘cousin) EVEER LIVED IN THE WATER. The Aquatic Ape claims are Pseudo-Science. Google ” John Hawks ,Why anthropologists don’t accept the Aquatic Ape Theory”
My boy, as usual, you provide no arguments, only a repetition of your conviction, based on your religious belief that our ancestors ran over savannas, that human ancestors could not have followed the waterside. As you perhaps know, John Hawks is one of the “scientists” who believe naledi belonged to Homo & buried their dead in a cave?  :-D Google: Not Homo but Pan naledi 2017.
Tell us about the Neanderthal “SNORKEL” Mr. Veerhaggard-&-spent-pseudo-idea. Tell us how Homo Erectus evolved a thick skull to be “ballast” as he dove. Hahahahahah. Those fictions have been thoroughly debunked by me in the last year and by many other, including John Hawks in previous years. You claim that Humans evolved from marine primates. Yes, Homo lived near waters (so do lions) and homo DID RUN over savannas, whereas Ardipithicus was still aboral. NO MARINE PRIMATES HAVE EVER EISTED. So, it’s not possible for a NON_existent “marine primate” to have evolved into human beings through an aquatic ape or aquaric homo antecedent. NONE HAVE EVER EXISTED, … . as ALL real apleoanthropologists know. And, don’t call me “my boy,” Mr Simpleton witch doctor. My grandchildren will wonder what Psych ward you’re writing from. These days, you just can’t bring yourself to honestly address YOUR claim that Neanderthal’s had SNORKEL NOSES can you Veer-butt ? Having no doubt become aware of how utterly LAUGHABLE your claim is. shall I Cut & Paste YOUR rambling blatherings on that very topic …?
A Previous - and thorough— decapitation of Marc Verhaggard’s rambling, shifting, morphing inarticulate claims is linked below: Marc Verhaegan is SLIPPERY and these days tries to PRETEND that his real claim, that modern human evolved from an aquatic mammal that lived in water (probably salt water) is just a claim that humans exploited rivers and other waters for the resources they could provide. EVERYONE knows about that — in fact THAT STILL HAPPENS. Look at ANY River bank in the world. But there have NEVER EXISTED a Marine Primate that later evolved into homo sapiens. NEVER. And, THAT is what Verhaegan has spent his recent decades embarrassing himself and insulting readers over. DEBUNKED HERE _________________________ ** MARC VERHAEGEN** “Beginning in the early 1980s a medical doctor (general practitioner) from Belgium, Marc Verhaegen, penned a number of articles on his version of the AAT/H. In his version, rather than a limited time as an aquatic or semi-aquatic animal, virtually all of hominid evolution is “aquatic” — albeit without any meaningful explanation of what he means by “aquatic”. This is that problem with “ZING!ability” I mentioned on my “What is the AAT/H?” page — in Verhaegen’s hands their “aquaticness” varies from feature to feature and critic to critic, in an ad hoc zig-zagging that makes criticism difficult — when you point to one degree of water use, the creatures ZING! over to another degree of water use, ultimately being wherever he wants them to be at any given time to counter valid criticisms, no matter what inconsistencies this creates. You find this is virtually all AAT/H accounts after Hardy; the degree of “aquaticness” is, shall we say, awfully fluid. ” Verhaegen also entertains various other idiosyncrasies, such as positing Neanderthal noses as snorkels (due to sea otter-like diving habits, according to him). The more basic problems with Verhaegen’s work are the by now classic AAT/H environmental determinism, the also classic AAT/H special pleading regarding convergent evolution, the classic AAT/H strawman version of mainstream paleoanthropological theories (restricting them, inaccurately, to savannas, and not just any savannas, but the super-restricted AAT/H strawman version of savanna), and the — yes, classic — numerous false “facts”. ” Since I find that one relatively recent AAT/H proponent tactic is to claim that the only problems with any proponent’s ideas or claims are those I’ve written down here, let me stress that the following are by no means the only false “facts” that Marc Verhaegen uses or has used — in fact he uses so many that it’s difficult, time consuming, and even distressing, to go after them all. So I’m offering a few as examples, and using these examples to point out how unreliable, at best, his scholarship is. And the sources I give for his statements are not the only places he’s said these things; he tends to repeat himself, and cite himself, quite a lot. And I’ve also found a few quotes, from referees of a paper that Verhaegen co-wrote, to show that I’m hardly alone in recognizing this problem of his. With that in mind, here are only a few of the false “facts” Verhaegen has used or introduced into the discussion: (see list at LINK below h**p://www.aquaticape.org/verhaegen.html just REPLACE the 2 “**” with the two normal “tt” in an URL address.
That man is apparently sick. For an update of the littoral theory (early-Pleistocene Homo dispersing intercontinentally along African & Eurasian coasts), google e.g. “unproven assumptions so-called aquatic ape hypothesis”.
Ole Verhaegan … now trying to soft pedal his original claim that MARINE PRIMATES evolved in an AQUATIC APE or Homo ancestor…by pretending that his original claim was only that early hominins followed rivers to exploit their resource (something humans STILL do). NO “marine primate” or “aquatic ape” has EVER EXISTED. EVER. Come on Mr Marc Verhaegan ….PLEASE tell us all about those N_E_A__D_E_R_T_H_A_L ___S_N_O_R_K_E_L_S ….and if you have time about Homo Erectus’ head adapting to diving in water by getting heavier to serve as BALST. OR….ASSERT that I’m lying ..and that you have NEVER posited such foolishness me Verhaegan. I CHALLENGE you to do one or the other. Repeat your assertions…OR say that you never made them. (can’t do either one can you Marc ?)
Regarding the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis, supported with an almost religious zeal, by Marc Verhaegan, here is another brief observation about Mr. Verhaegan’s claims and their distinct distance from a scientifically argued position supported by data that can be reasonably understood as factual evidence .>>>>>>>>. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ” There are several aspects of Verhaegen’s online arguing style that may sound like ad hominem complaints (and which I thought of not pointing out for that reason) but which I think are indicative of his methods over and above the problems I mentioned above. ~ “Online, besides his numerous insults in several languages, he commonly makes comparisons of himself and/or the AAT/H to Wegener (starting with his very first online post, after only a few days online), and he also commonly makes more offhand comparisons of himself and/or the AAT/H to Darwin, Galileo, and Einstein, as well as comparing the AAT/H theory to Copernicus’). This something that virtually all “net kook” or “crackpot” indexes feature as a prominent warning sign (probably the best known of these indexes is “The Crackpot Index: A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics” by John Baez). ~ “Another suspect tactic is inflating credentials; in Verhaegen’s case he’s done this by claiming an affiliation with “Studiecentrum Antropologie”. It turns out that “Studiecentrum Antropologie” is not a real institution at all, as Marc explains to a supporter in his Yahoo group: ~ “In fact, it’s “Studiecentrum Antropologie”. My Instutution is not very large (about 1 room) :-D but if you want to get something published, I thought you better have some Institution. I got this idea after a correspondent on mine (Jos Verhulst) created his “Louis Bolk Centre” (about 2 rooms) for the same reason.” ~ “If you read the sci.anthropology.paleo newsgroup, you may see him referred to by his nickname, “macro-man”, which he got due to his habit of continually posting one of a few versions of an uninformative mishmash of his theory without regard to whether it’s at all apropos to the thread in question. This behavior in others (common among creationists, for instance) has been described, in a lighthearted but nevertheless serious and accurate way, as “Argumentum ad Assertion Repetitio ad Nauseam”. _______________ h**p://www.aquaticape.org/verhaegen.html
Stop ranting, my boy, your lack of arguments says enough: you have nothing: your savanna theory is an empty bag, a typical example of pseudo-science. Google e.g. “Attenborough Schagatay brenna reply”, “original econiche Homo”.
No so-called “Marine Primate” ….no “Aquatic Ape “….no “Aquatic early Homo” HAS EVER EXISTED and there is ZERO Evidence for your real claim — that humans had a time in their evolutionary history when they were primarily marine mammals. Which by the way has precisely NOTHING to do with humans living near water and exploiting that water’s resources (as humans STILL do), the same way humans really exploited and still exploit savannas for their resources and the same way humans exploited the tree canopy for its resources. Mr Neanderthals-had-Snorkel-noses VeerHaggard-&-shot-childish-ideas. You refuse to defend your own claims ….which means that YOU KNOW they are hogwash. Google “Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is PSEUDO Science, Google “Marc Verhaegan is NOT a trained anthropologist.
My boy, your only “argument” is apparently that I’m “NOT a trained anthropologist” (your shouting). Pathetic… :-D Prof Phillip Tobias (one of the most trained anthropologists): “… Meanwhile, Elaine Morgan had been piecing together a number of other arguments against the savannah hypothesis, based on some anatomical, biochemical and physiological data of modern humans, much of which was collected by Belgium’s Dr Marc Verhaegen, which contrast sharply with the traits in present-day animals that are truly adapted to savannah life. … To a large London audience in 1995 I said: “All the former savannah supporters (including myself) must now swallow our earlier words in the light of the new results from the early hominid deposits”.” Some of my publications in biological & anthropological journals, e.g. 1986 with E.Morgan in New Scient.1498:62-63 “In the beginning was the water” 1987 Nature 325:305-6 “Origin of hominid bipedalism” 1987 Hum.Evol.2:381 “Speech origins” 1990 Hum.Evol.5:295-7 “African ape ancestry” 1992 Hum.Evol.7:63-64 “Did robust australopithecines partly feed on hard parts of Gramineae?” 1993 Nutr.Health 9:165-191 “Aquatic versus savanna: comparative and paleo-environmental evidence” 1994 Hum.Evol.9:121-139 “Australopithecines: ancestors of the African apes?” 1996 Hum.Evol. 11:35-41 “Morphological distance between australopithecine, human and ape skulls” 1997 Hadewijch Antwerp 220pp “In den Beginne was het Water – Nieuwste Inzichten in de Evolutie van de Mens” 1997 with R.Bender, N.Oser in Anthropol.Anz.55:1-14 “Der Erwerb menschlicher Bipedie aus der Sicht der Aquatic Ape Theory” 1997 New Scient.2091:53 “Sweaty humans” 1998 in M.A.Raath et al.eds :128-9 “Australopithecine ancestors of African apes?” 1998 ib.:131 “Human/ape brain differences and speech origins” 1998 with P-F.Puech ib.:47 “Wetland apes: hominid palaeo-environment and diet 2000 with P-F.Puech in Hum.Evol.15:175-186 “Hominid lifestyle and diet reconsidered: paleo-environmental and comparative data” 2002 with S.Munro in Nutr.Health 16:25-27 “The continental shelf hypothesis” 2002 with P-F.Puech, S.Munro in Trends Ecol.Evol.17:212-7 “Aquarboreal ancestors?” 2004 with S.Munro in Hum.Evol.19:53-70 “Possible preadaptations to speech – a preliminary comparative approach” 2007 with S.Munro in SI Muñoz ed.:1-4 “New directions in palaeoanthropology” 2007 with S.Munro, M.Vaneechoutte, R.Bender, N.Oser ibid.:155-186 “The original econiche of the genus Homo: open plain or waterside?” 2010 New Scient.2782:69 Lastword 16.10.10 “Oi, big nose!” 2011 with S.Munro in J.compar.hum.Biol.62:237-247 “Pachyosteosclerosis suggests archaic Homo frequently collected sessile littoral foods” 2013 Hum.Evol.28:237-266 “The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”
Verhaegan, Old chap, CUTE….you cut & paste and thus refer to yourself in the third person (“much of which was collected by Belgium’s Dr Marc Verhaegen,”) . So, we see that YOU are not even reading your own comments here so now I’m not either. You’re simply out of your depth. AND, Verhaegan, old boy, I am making an ARGUMENT — repeatedly …. an argument that you CANNOT answer so you try to ignore. That’s YOUR weakness not mine. Here we go….buckle up let’s do it one more time. No so-called “Marine Primate” ….no “Aquatic Ape “….no “Aquatic early Homo” HAS EVER EXISTED and there is ZERO Evidence in the fossil record for your real claim — that humans had a time in their evolutionary history when they were primarily marine mammals. So, your central claims has ZERO supporting evidence; which is not really surprising since, you see, real evidence cannot exist for something that NEVER HAPPENED. Also, Neanderthals did NOT have SNORKEL noses as you claim AND Homo Erectus’s head did NOT adapt by growing extra heavy to serve as BALLAST in dives in the water you think Erectus lived in. There is NO physical evidence in the really existing fossil record to support the Aquatic Ape Articles of FAITH that are important to you and that frankly function as a Religion-of-sorts for you. NO MARINE PRIMATE OR Aquatic Ape” has ever existed and there as NO fossils to support such a claim. You know, the way there are no fossils to support the existence of Godzilla or King Kong. For very good reasons. And we both know why…..they are FICTIONAL characters…like the “marine primates” who inhabit your tale tales. The only reason I mention your complete lack of anthropological training is that virtually 100 % of actual trained anthropologists can see the weakness of your fantasies….the same way they can see the weaknesses of Elaine Morgan’s fantasies. — yet another pop sci writer NOT trained in the science of paleoanthropology. Google “Why anthropologists don’t accept the Aquatic Ape Theory” Google “Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is a PSEUDOSCIENCE” to find the opinions of REAL paleoanthropologists about your favored fiction. I don’t hold a grudge against you Marc. In fact, I LOVE good fictioin, Star Trek for example, but I try not to confuse the fiction I really do enjoy with the historical scientific facts that real scholars have worked hard to establish. You see, Star Trek isn’t real, no matter how much I love the characters. Just like your precious Aquatic Ape Theory isn’t real although Elaine Morgan’s fictions obviously mean a LOT to you. So, I do understand. Admit to yourself that you’re indulging a penchant for fiction, …then you can write ANY story you wish, …you just can’t expect the world’s experts to believe in your fictions. Ans, you probably shouldn’t either.
Naledi was no human ancestor, not even Homo, was no better tool user than a chimp, did not bury its dead in caves, and was no savanna runner. Google “not Homo but Pan naledi 2017”.
Verhaegan, you don’t seem to grasp how utterly COMICAL — maniacally so — it is for you to cite your own scribblings as if you are referencing an “Authority” on paleoanthropology. You most decidedly are not. You’re in fact not even referencing a well-informed amateur. You’re preaching a laughable , ..indeed a rather pitiable, pitiful cartoonish pseudoscience…Mr Neandethal-Snorkel, Home-Erectus-Heavy-Head-Evolved-as-BALLAST. That’s INSANE. And, YOU made those claims …not someone else. Your going on & on & talking these days about early hominin’s use of littoral resources in NO WAY absolves the original “Sin” of your original CLAIM (along with Elain Morgan’s) that humans evolved from a marine primate, and “aquatic ape” or an “aquatic early homo.” You just can’t pretend that you didn’t claim that. Well, perhaps you can, but I wont let it be forgotten or denied. And, that’s the trouble with spending years — decades — scribbling fictional NON-sense. The nonsense STICKS around to embarrass you. Indeed, the professionals tell us that Naledi is indeed Homo. Not a human ancestor, but an upright, human relative, something you Preachers of Pseudo-Science seem unable to parse. But, your made up position doesn’t matter. Additionally, you have NO INFORMATION with which to access Naledi’s possible tool use…..so you’re PRETENDING that you do. As usual, you are simply and merely PRONOUNCING your own home-made pretend paleo-history. “Blathering” …Frothing at the verbal latrine. Surely you understand why ( anyone would HAVE TO !!!) that carries NO WEIGHT with anyone else on the planet…. ??!!!! Naledi’s dead ARE INDEED FOUND IN GEOLOGICALLY STABLE CAVES….why they are there is open to informed debate (something you evidence no capacity for). MY own hunch is that human burial probably arose first our of practical concerns. Decaying bodies occupied precious space in the home-site, stank, ruined the atmosphere and attracted scavengers like hyenas. All, damn good reasons to find somewhere ELSE to put them. What Naledi is doing here may be a kind of recapitulation of that activity we are only familiar with from humans. Our ritualized approach to burial is no doubt a cultural and symbolic accretion to what began as the solution to a practical problem. Naledi was probably solving that same practical problem, and perhaps may have even had the beginnings of a symbolic cognitive overlay to it.
I find it uniquely interesting that the assertion of the fossil record of well documented species display trees with a multitude of beaches and diversity among those branches,. Yet, when archeologist, professional and amature look at the bipedal hominids there is such a rush to find new tree branches with such poor fossil foundation and documentation. While my own bias runs such that it is reasonably logical to conclude the bipedal hominid species is just as diverse as any other species tree, it is my considered opine that the evidence does not yet substantially exist to support such position. Having said that, I propose common sense dictates that for such a complex species as Homo sapien to evolve from a single cell the journey was long, complex, and requiring a significantly vast natural diversification of natural dna diversity experimentation. To compound maters there is the probability of survival and assertion equation that weighs heavily against the likelihood of the evolution of such a species to the top of the food chain. The community needs to contain the negative discourse, be open to the possibilities and proceed communally to find the truth of our entire tree. This will most probably require some melenium baring some miraculous set of cervumstances unfolding mother earths hidden secrets. It will further require the set aside of narcissistic , egocentricities of the community. Certainly when a find is made it is cause to take pause and celebrate. It is not however reason to purposefully block progression of discovery and knowledge. All finds should be reviewed by the community and the facts of the finds should most certainly be scientifically and without bias confirmed. I personally find the tireless, factless and extreme bias continuously made in argumentative, sarcastic , rhetoric to be quite boring and in professional. Certainly such behavior is beneath the dignity of the community at large. Life is short, the work is important. Love each other as yourself, lift each other as yourself, agree to disagree but do so with integrity and style not ego centered distain and loathing driven by immature envy. Good hunting, grand readerching and magnificent results to all! tal j brammer S.A.M.E. , MBA , materials sciences, author, all around nice guy, (“>

Add new comment