Revisiting Water and Hominin Evolution
Pp. 3-15 (13)
Phillip V. Tobias
For many investigators, the rôle of water in the evolution of the Hominini refers to the development of a number of anatomical and physiological features, which hominins are thought to share with water-adapted animals. However, in the last dozen years, there has been emphasis on other ways in which water, and the proximity to water, have been probable influences in hominin evolution. This chapter reviews each of five ways in which water has influenced or might have affected human evolution. This pentapartite analysis singles out water for drinking, for keeping cool, for global dispersal, as a basis for aquatic adaptations and for the ingesting of aquatic foods. In contrast with the heavy, earth-bound view of hominin evolution, which has predominated hitherto, an appeal is made here for students of hominin evolution to buoy up, lighten and leaven their strategy by adopting a far greater emphasis upon the role of water and waterways in hominin phylogeny, diversification, and dispersal from one water-girt milieu to others. Some evidence is adduced to show the value and potential of this course of action.
Hominin evolution, water, drinking, cooling, migration, aquatic adaptations, aquatic food and brain development, history of science, paradigm shift
School of Anatomical Sciences, Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa