IN HIS RECENT big cats post Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology mentioned something about aquatic proto-people coming up on his blog. I figured this was the Aquatic Ape hypothesis, which is popular among some circles, and says along the line of human descent our ancestors first became primarily aquatic and then our species reemerged onto land. This aquatic phase is supposed to be responsible for some traits of humans such as our long hair (for swimming babies to hold on to), relative lack of body hair (more streamlined), and our subcutaneous fat (supposedly for insulation and streamlining). While it is an unusual idea, it doesn’t rate “snort your coffee up your nose” funny. I can’t say the same for the idea that he is really reporting on–initial bipedalism.

He’s not talking about initial bipedalism of our primate ancestor, or even our mammalian ancestor. Initial bipedalism proposes that all vertebrates are descended from a chordate ancestor that developed a gas-filled swelling at the head that helped position the animal upright in the water. At some point these critters developed limbs that served to paddle around while bobbing about like a cork (sounds like an inefficient setup to me). Oh, and they breathed through their ears. It was these things that colonized the land. I guess they followed the example of their proponents and filled their heads with hot air to decrease their density, making terrestrial locomotion easier. Naish says they are supposed to have been described as clever and dexterous, although those words are not generally used to describe other organisms with neutral to positive buoyancy and limited mobility, such as jellyfish.

Just goes to show what you can accomplish when you ignore evidence and limit yourself only to the bounds of your imagination!

I also have some blog news. First, I’m changing my blog slogan. “Because the whole wide world should know what I think” was more amusing when I was getting zero views per day. I also found out yesterday that my RSS feed had been crippled by an error in one of my posts and fixed that, so the feed should be working now. Finally, I’ve had three instances now where comments have turned up on entirely the wrong post. I still see them because I can view new posts chronologically, but others may have no idea where their comment went. This appears to be a bug related to the theme that I’m using, so I’ll probably change that in the next week or so. Things may get a little ugly until I get the new theme worked out!