Fat chance - am in Tampa - doubt any others near here..... and as my love in Germany can attest, am anything but num...Why, I've never felt so insulted in my entire life! Me... pretending to be "Robert Malcom"? Blasphemy! Heresy! Aquatic Apery!
[Just kidding Robert M. I think you're a good sport... you are, aren't you? Now call off these soaking wet apes on my patio, they ruin the view.]
Robert D.: I have the same response to that site, a lack of brevity... ad homonym attacks on Morgan...I did say extended critique. I also haven't read any inflaming poetry on the site. Seriously, scientists (amateur and what not) are not above ad hominem attacks. Attention-seeking, tenure-jostling, and grant-begging will see to that. Their stated positions have to be judged on their own objective merits, just like everybody else's.
My take on AAT? Interesting ideas, but far from deserving the same standing as the standard model. If you would go to 'the' definition page of AAT* in RiverApes.com (the same site Nature L. linked to), you'll find "five falsifiable hypotheses":
1) The Hominid Bipedalism from Wading Hypothesis
2) The Nakedness for Drag Reduction Hypothesis
3) The Adipocity for Buoyancy Hypothesis
4) The Dip-Sweat Cooling Hypothesis
5) The Dental Reduction for Fish-Eating Hypothesis
Of the five given, only the second one can be said to be aquatic in the proper sense of the word 'aquatic'("The Nakedness for Drag Reduction Hypothesis"). And the given "falsifiable prediction" for this is ridiculous: "Shaving body hair off competitive swimmers should...". The same "falsifiable prediction" can be used for dogs.
Number 5 does not need the AAT. A reduction in molar dentition can be expected from a meat diet, it does not have to be fish and shellfish. Since hominid man hunted and slaughtered prey with tools, not with their jaws, expect no equivalent size augmentation of the canines.
Numbers 1,3, and 4 are just as easily explained by living near water. Hardly aquatic.
It has to be made clear: The current mainstream explanations for the evolution of man does not, in any case, preclude anyone from stating that living near water had an effect on our physiology. The problem starts when someone claims to be refuting established science (RiverApes claims to be "a different story about human evolution"), and then, when the claims are analyzed, they don't turn out to be refutations at all. Most of the time, they backtrack, their ideas are scanned, the valid ones are added to the 'canon' [like there is one], and business goes on as usual.
Wait... Did I just say "Most of the time"? Yep, this kind of brouhaha over little stuff has happened before. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Edredge put forth the idea of "punctuated equilibrium", where they show evolution of a species can reach a stable, unchanging plateau at some time (when there is no selection pressure), but then speciate rapidly (paleontologically speaking) when the environment changes. A ruckus started when this idea was presented as the end of Darwinian 'gradualism'. Well, let's have Darwin himself take the floor
Many species once formed never undergo any further change.... and the periods, during which species have undergone modification, though long as measured by years, have probably been short in comparison with the periods during which they retain the same form.To cut a long story short, 'punctuated equilibrium' did not turn out to revolutionary at all, and this story would at most raise a yawn if presented again in a scientists' conference.
-Origin of Species
Moral Lesson generically addressed #1: Many people, perhaps including you, aspire to make some great discovery that would change the world. However, it would be to the benefit of everyone concerned (and to your reputation), if the proper distinction be made between a revolutionary finding and a supplemental contribution.
Evolution is the revolutionary finding, AAT is the supplemental contribution [when verified]. May each take their proper place in science.
Robert W: ROTFL!!!
My PhD supervisor had several mottos. One of them was: "assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups."
Funny as that is, it actually touches on an essential issue here, already mentioned by Dr. Machan. That of "logical possibility".
From the RiverApe page I linked to above, you'll see this at the bottom:
Further sub-hypotheses will be added as time permits. The writer, Algis Kuliukas, has also authored a paper on Hominid Hybridization Theory. This sentence from the abstract caught me:
It is postulated that the most plausible scenario that could have resulted in a sufficient number of viable individuals with this new chromosomal arrangement is a hybridisation of two populations of hominids at the most 3.7 million years ago but possibly as recent as 200,000 years before present.I have no problem with people having original contributions to science. By necessity, originality will entail assumptions. However, there is a big problem on stacking unverified assumptions on top of one another. Here, he assumes the unvarnished truth of AAT, postulates 'hybridization' of two populations of hominids, and gives the time frame of this happening a span of 3.5 million years!
Not all logical possibilities can be explored. There is only a finite amount of brain power and time that can be devoted on various problems on science. As large as the enterprise is, there are already numerous avenues to be explored, each requiring years of specialized education and experience to pursue. For example, Michael Marotta's** offhand comment to the effect that "Gondwanaland was shattered into Africa and South America by an impact of a meteorite or asteroid" consists of only so many words. It is easy enough to disprove with physics and materials engineering references in concept. But I [if I chose to], have to do the following in practice:
1) Take the values of the ultimate strength of basalt [this rock underlies most of the crust], the thickness of the continental crust, and the length of the continental break. Questions... what if it's not all basalt? Just what is the average thickness over there? And by 'length', do I have to measure every zig and zag of the borders?
2) Calculate the necessary amount of energy to break the continent. Oops, can't use the formula for a rectangular block here, this is for a hollow sphere. Also, what is the coefficient of restitution to use, if any? How much of the energy is absorbed percentage-wise? Do I have to take into account the shockwaves resonating all across the lithosphere? Does this disturb the core? Does this disturbance affect my calculation? What about crack propagation?
3) Compare the energy from #2 with the kinetic energy of an object of particular mass moving at a particular velocity. What is the size of it? Is this a plausible size? What density did I assume? What speed? Oh, I forgot to test for different trajectories, silly me...
Actually, #2 and the last part of #3 would require the use of supercomputers. After all that, I still have no explanation of why the continents separated the way they did. I just broke them, remember? Ah well... another afternoon wasted.
Imagine I actually did all that, harassing Sandia Labs to get supercomputer time, sorted all the practical difficulties, and submitted them to Michael. I stentorially declare "Michael, you are wrong, and here are the calculations to prove it!". Then he replies, "Oh, what if the Moon actually grazed the Earth sometime in the past, and that broke Gondwanaland?".
Moral Lesson generically addressed #2:Assumptions do not have equal standing with verified theory. If it were, science would be a wild goose chase all over "possibility-space". No one is obligated to prove anyone else's free-ranging speculations. If you have to gripe that the 'scientific community' is not paying your ideas sufficient attention, they may be off doing their own work. Their work could be more relevant than your idea. Do your own work.
We don't have to believe in six impossible things before breakfast just in order to advance science. After all is said and done, we could all be hybridized aquatic apes. But I'm not going to hold my breath and dive waiting for the proof... of a potential supplemental contribution.
* Morgan calls it AA Theory, Kuliukas calls it AA Hypothesis.
** Not picking on you man, just a handy example from what recently transpired.