Why are we the only members of the ape family who are hairless, walk upright, shed tears and communicate by a verbal language? Why are human babies plump, when the infants of other apes are skinny? Why is our sexual behaviour different? In the first full discussion of a theory propounded by the late Sir Alister Hardy, Elaine Morgan points to the dramatic similarities between ourselves and the aquatic mammals - whales, dolphins, seals, sea otters - and argues that the only theory of evolution which explains these satisfactorily is that we, alone among the primates, have returned to life on land after a period of adaptation to an aquatic environment. We were once aquatic apes.
Elaine Morgan was born in 1920 and after studying at Oxford University worked as a television writer. In 1972 she published The Descent of Woman suggesting that human evolution had an aquatic origin. This idea was attacked at first by scientists but the book became an international bestseller. In the decades since Morgan's aquatic ape hypothesis has gained widespread support.