Mermaids and Aquatic Apes

Mythical image of mermaid

Our Aquatic Past

On the face of it, both the Aquatic Ape Theory and mermaids are about aquatic humans and so from this point of view, both concepts are very similar. But the former is a scientific theory while the latter is supposed to be a myth.

Science also claims that it is impossible to have a creature that is half fish and half human. This then makes these two different concepts are as far apart as you can get, when viewed like this, but only if we assume that mermaids are really half fish and half human.

For those who don’t know what the Aquatic Ape Theory is: It explains why humans, unlike any other ape species, has lost its hair, walks upright, talks and has a large brain, through living in an aquatic environment, foraging for marine food. The suggestion is that our ape ancestors, millions of years ago, came down from trees and began to forage for food, like shellfish and seaweed on beaches or wade in the shallows.

When wading, an ape is forced to stand upright, so evolution would favour apes who are better able to do this, as they are more able to stand upright in the water, gathering food, for a longer time. If an ape becomes used to standing upright in the water, they may also begin to do the same on land, where they find this has an advantage

It would certainly be beneficial to mothers with newborns who will find they have their arms free to carry their child and even feed it at her breasts while she is walking. Also by standing upright she is able to carry marine food, in her hands, from the shallows to land for any young who have been weaned.

Venus Of Willendorf

Were these ancient fat women female divers?
Were these ancient fat women female divers?

Subcutaneous Fat

Then as the shallows are over-fished, these apes would be forced to move out into deeper waters and the apes who can duck their heads underwater and hold their breaths would have an advantage. In time, these apes will also start to swim underwater, to forage for food in even deeper waters.

Wet fur is not a good insulator in water, so evolution would favour fatter apes with less hair. This is because, fat or blubber is used by many marine mammals, like seals, dolphins and whales, to keep warm in the water.

At the same time, ape fur is useless in the water, for insulation and a drag when swimming or even wading, this would also favour apes with less hair. So over evolutionary time this would be the reason humans lost their fur

Marine food is very rich in brain food like Omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, and this would allow humans to developed far larger brains than any other ape. On the beach there would be coconut trees and it seems that the fat in coconut is also an important brain food. Learning to hold their breath underwater and so learning conscious breath control, also helped teach humans to talk

Ama Diver

Japanese Ama Diver
Japanese Ama Diver

Breath-Holding Divers

Even though humans became human through living in a marine environment, at some point in our more recent past humans began to leave the shoreline and began to live away from the sea

It seems that humans didn't become as aquatic as we see in mermaid myths. For this reason, mermaids, with fish tails, would not be aquatic apes as some people have suggested.

Although most people tend to think of mermaids of as a woman with a fishtail, if we look at many of the mermaid sighting in the past we find in a lot of them, the mermaids have legs. So what we think of as mermaids were only ordinary women swimming in the sea

In my book and blog,(see below) and my video, Mermaids Are Real. I have explained that I believe that mermaids are female divers like the ama and haenyo of Japan and Korea. And like in the Aquatic Ape Theory these divers forage for marine food like shellfish and seaweed in the sea. So these divers are following a lifestyle that probably goes back millions of years

It is also of interest that the female body is more aquatic than the male body, as the human female has less body hair and more subcutaneous fat than males, keeping their bodies warmer in the water. This is why the traditional breath holding divers of Japan and Korea are mostly women, as their bodies are more suited to this lifestyle than men. This would also explain why reports of mer-people in Europe and other parts of the world are mostly of females and not males, as they would have been like the ama and haenyo of today.

17th Century Drawing Of A Mermaid.

Mermaids And Witches

So why do we not read about female divers in history? The reason it seems is that female divers or mermaids were the main breadwinners of their families and patriarchal doctrines like Christianity, Islam and Confucianism greatly disapproved of this.

The Confucian government of China banned female divers and in Europe mermaids were caught up on the witch hunts of the middle ages, and being a female diver was enough to condemn woman as a witch.

Farmers V Mermaids

So in our evolution from ape to human it seems we were all mer-people living on marine food. Though because women’s bodies are more aquatic than men’s bodies it suggests that women foraged more in the water while men foraged more on land.

This only changed when some humans found they could survive foraging on land and moved away from the coast. Then later farming was invented and the first civilizations were created. But it seems not all people done this and continued their very ancient way of life diving for marine food

Unfortunately this way of life was later to clash with the patriarchal doctrines who disapproved of women being the main breadwinner of the family. So not only were mermaids or female divers banned they were also written out of history. So the only evidence for this ancient way of life is mermaid myths and legends. As well as ama and haenyo divers that have survived into modern times.

First part of my seven part mermaid series

© 2012 William Bond

More by this Author

Comments 8 comments

Kimberly Llewellyn 4 years ago

I love this. I always called this, the lost aquatic nexus. Meaning the "missing link" was not on land, but rather in the water! :)

Brandon Ward 4 years ago

Yes, that would explain why we couldn't find the missing link on land. I watched a show on Discovery Channel about Mermaids being caught on an audio recorder by scientists, and then the US military were using some type of new super sonic weapon that would kill anything in the path of it, and it happened to beach tons of whales, and something that couldn't be explained, it had a body structure somewhat like a humans, but also had a tail like a seal, and it had bones in the tail. It made me think about so much.

wabond profile image

wabond 4 years ago from England Author

My personal opinion on the Animal Planet program was that it was a hoax, you can read more about this at. -

livhappy profile image

livhappy 4 years ago

You have fantastic views on this I love it. Definitely got me thinking

wabond profile image

wabond 4 years ago from England Author

Thank you Livhappy

raven heft profile image

raven heft 3 years ago from somewhere im not suppose to be.

What do you think about other mythical creatures?

wabond profile image

wabond 3 years ago from England Author

Personally Raven Helf, I think most mythical creatures do have some basis of fact. Like unicorns were probably just another name for a rhinoceros. While others might have been fossils of extinct animals ancient people have dug up and speculated about what they were.

marc verhaegen 2 years ago

Thanks a lot. Better terms than ‘aquatic ape’ are Littoral Theory or Coastal Dispersal Model, google ‘greg laden blog verhaegen’: rather than running over savannas, Homo populations during the Ice Ages followed coasts & rivers, where they collected very different sorts of waterside & shallow aquatic plant & animal foods.

Human Evolution soon publishes the proceedings of the symposium ‘Human Evolution: Past, Present & Future’ in London 8-10 May 2013:


Introduction - Peter Rhys-Evans

1. Human's Association with Water Bodies: the ‘Exaggerated Diving Reflex’ and its Relationship with the Evolutionary Allometry of Human Pelvic and Brain Sizes - Stephen Oppenheimer

2. Human Ecological Breadth: Why Neither Savanna nor Aquatic Hypotheses can Hold Water - JH Langdon

3. Endurance Running versus Underwater Foraging: an Anatomical and Palaeoecological Perspective - Stephen Munro

4. Wading Hypotheses of the Origin of Human Bipedalism - Algis Kuliukas

5. The Aquatic Ape Evolves: Common Misconceptions and Unproven Assumptions about the So-Called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis - Marc Verhaegen

6. The Epigenetic Emergence of Culture at the Coastline: Interaction of Genes, Nutrition, Environment and Demography - CL Broadhurst & Michael Crawford

SPECIAL EDITION PART 2 (begin 2014) with 12 contributions

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article