One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student


on December 7, 2012

I just recently finished a book The Artificial Ape by Timothy Taylor  for a biological anthropology course and I wanted to rip my eyes out. There are a lot of evolutionary theories to define the human identity as Homo sapiens and how we have evolved into the modern human. No one will ever agree to how the human race evolved into what we are now or will become, and that is just personal preference to what one believes, whether it be God or biological evolution. Even with the scientific evidence, there will never be just one theory.

The Aquatic Ape

Recently the Animal Planet on the Discovery Channel has released the documentary of the Aquatic Ape (mermaids). The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (AAH) – the notion that modern humans evolved from an ancestor who adapted to the water and became aquatic, we emerged out of the water to be modern humans. During the time of geographic and climate changes when many of the human ancestors were migrating inland, there was a group that moved toward the water and adapted to the water growing fins and gills, and living in the ocean. This theory was brought up in the 1940’s and 60’s, but has now been resurfaced.  There isn’t any fossil evidence that supports this but those who follow this theory believe that the aquatic abilities that we have are linked to past aquatic apes.

Animal Planet claims to have new emerging evidence of the aquatic ape……..I will leave it to you to decide.

The Artificial Ape

Taylor argues the idea that the technological innovation of tool use in early hominids was the essential phase that allowed for the development of larger brains and increased intelligence, emphasizing the invention of baby slings. The author attempts to answer the central question of his book: “Did we evolve into the modern human form and invent the objects on which we now depend, or did the things come first and so bring us into being?”Taylor believes in the latter in which humans are not products of the biological (natural selection or sexual selection) but products of artificial selection  Although Taylor makes his claims that “technology evolved us,”  he has provided weak evidence and weak arguments in his attempt to support the claim. He also provides long narratives of personal stories that often trail off and never make a solid connection to his main hypothesis.

He states that humans needed alternative means for carrying infants, and thus the need to invent baby slings, as the driver for the creation of stone tools.  He argues that baby slings allowed us to “push back our biological limits” and allowed our brains to expand, thus forming into an artificial species. According to Taylor, the innovation of a baby-sling would allow hominids to transport infants and would solve various problems such as freeing hands for other tasks, make walking easier, and conserve energy that would otherwise be spent carrying young in arms, therefore better ensuring the survival of helpless infants. Although Taylor makes good arguments for the reasons for carrying technology, baby-slings would have been constructed of organic materials that would have decayed through time leaving no archaeological evidence opposed to those of stone tools.  Even though Taylor does not discuss this, there could have been various other ways of compensating for the care of infants. These alternative means of childcare include examples of social caring, such as “aunting” which is evident in modern ape species.

We can all agree that humans are highly dependent on technology and that has been an influence in modern human evolution. Technology has advanced our culture and such, but there are various other reasons for evolution like: diet and agriculture, and climate change. We also have evidence that our brains are shrinking due to our high dependency on technology and that are some biological features that are slowing devolving due to the lack of use (our wisdom teeth).

To be honest it is really up to the individual who believe how the human species has developed into the modern human. I’m just simply bring up some of the most ridiculous ones.


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