The "Evolution and Complexity" Scientific Research Network of
the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO)
has the pleasure to announce the
Water and Human Evolution
Savanna, forest or aquatic origins of our hominid ancestors?
Modern humans have several typical characteristics like bipedalism, nakedness and breath control, which make us different from our nearest cousins. The classic idea is that these features can be explained as adaptations to a terrestrial and dry woodland-savanna environment, where our ancestors would have been active during the diurnal phase of the day. Recent fossil findings of early hominization times indicate that the possible origin of bipedalism within a forest context cannot be excluded.
However, there have been
claims, mainly by non-specialists in the field, for a more or less aquatic way
of life during parts of our past evolution. The latter view has been especially
defended by journalist Elaine Morgan (
Very recently, the well
known paleo-anthropologist Phillip V. Tobias (
On the other hand, John
H. Langdon (
The EVOLUTION AND
COMPLEXITY Scientific Research Network of the Fund for Scientific
Research-Flanders (FWO) decided to organize a symposium, for which - among
others - specialists in different disciplines were invited to speak, to discuss
the pro's and contra's in the debate about the "dry" versus
"wetland" hypothesis. The challenge of this symposium will be to find
out whether there are irrefutable facts in the fossil record, and/or in our
anatomy and physiology which prove that the acquisitions of the typical human
features must be seen as primary adaptations to a kind of aquatic life in our
past history, or whether many of these aspects are also seen in other mammals
and vertebrates, which are presumed to have not had any water life past.
Mario Vaneechoutte, Walter Verraes, Achiel Gautier, Dani De Waele,
Gertrudis Van de Vijver.
Faculty of Philosophy, Blandijnberg 2, Auditorium
A and D, University
April 29th (Auditorium A):
17.00-17.50: Introductory BBC Natural History Unit film: "The aquatic ape".
To be premiered on Discovery Channel on May 22nd.
Chairmen: Walter Verraes & Achiel Gautier
8.45: Welcome. Walter Verraes, Department Zoology, Faculty Sciences, University
9.00: Elaine Morgan (
9.50: Marc Verhaegen (
11.00. Erika Schagatay (
11.30: Armand Christophe
12.00: Stephen Cunnane (
12.30: Lunch (not included).
14.45: John Langdon (
16.00: Phillip V. Tobias
17.00: Final discussion