Paradigmskifte eller pseudovetenskap?

The Aquatic Ape theory was first formulated by Alister Hardy in year 1960. All from the beginning the theory has been criticized, ridiculed, ignored and a source to strong feelings in the anthropological community. The purpose of this essay is to investigate why the Aquatic Ape theory is so controversial and why it is understood so differently by scientists. After interviews with Swedish scientists and the general community, and after reading of anthropological books, I have tried to show that the aquatic ape-coldness depends on it challenging nature against the anthropological paradigm, which describes human beings as strong, hunting creatures who can live in any environment. The Aquatic Ape theory - on the other hand - picks out one of all these environments and says: "here has our evolution occurred: we have been aquatic apes". Due to this, the theory has become an anomaly; it has been ignored, eliminated and stigmatized. Today, the Aquatic Ape is going through a dramatic change. Its proponents want to change its name to the Seashore Ape theory and they try to adapt the theory to the anthropological paradigm. For example they reduce the aquatic evolution phase to a short period from approximately 5 to 7 million years ago. This weaker version of the original theory is, though, more or less useless and it is quite easy to reject. Consequently: the aquatic ape needs to be an anomaly, otherwise it can?t exist. I can see two possible future scenarios for the Aquatic Ape theory. The first scenario is that the old anthropological paradigm continues to be intact, and then is the aquatic ape doomed to remain anonymous. The other scenario is that someone formulates a completely new paradigm where human beings are seen as environmental specialist rather than environmental generalists. Only here is the aquatic ape going to find an acceptable and essential role in the explanation of human evolution.


Erik Abrahamsson

Lärosäte och institution

Lunds universitet/Socialantropologi


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