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The Scars of Evolution: What Our Bodies Tell Us About Human Origins [Paperback]

Elaine Morgan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Sep 2000
By the best selling author of "The Descent of Woman", the first popular account of what is known as the "aquatic ape" thesis. Modern homo sapians is in many respects a peculiarly evolved animal, and traditional accounts of our evolution are less-than convincing in explaining why we are almost hairless, why we walk on two feet, why we sweat from entirely different glands from all other apes, why human females are always sexually responsive and so on. In this book the case for the theory that we spent part of our evolutionary development as a semi-aquatic mammal, a theory that can explain all these peculiarities, is discussed.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The Scars of Evolution: What Our Bodies Tell Us About Human Origins + The Descent of Woman + The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis: Most Credible Theory of Human Evolution
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Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd; First Edition edition (5 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285629964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285629967
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 948,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Product Description

About the Author

Elaine Morgan's first book, The Descent of Woman (1972), was an international bestseller in nine languages. Best known as an award-winning writer for television, she is also the author of The Aquatic Ape (1982). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Darwin's theory of evolution propounded an answer to one major mystery about our species, namely, why we bear such a powerful physiological resemblance to the African apes - the gorilla and the chimpanzee. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Many years ago I read Elaine Morgan's Descent of Woman and was surprised at its quality and amused at her parody of the speculations by the traditional anthropologists, as found in the best sellers by Morris, Audry, and Lorenz, on the origins of us humans as humans. The anthropologists had seemed unimaginative and not altogether logical in their speculations on the environment and behavior of our immediate predecessors-- in a word, they seemed klutzy. Now I read Scars and realize that Ms. Morgan was not doing a parody but sincerely developing an alternative explanation centered on the Aquatic Ape Theory. This more mature work has facts that will grab you and ideas that will stick with you. Ms. Morgan is a writer and the book is written for all of us, so it reads well. But what makes this an outstanding book are two things: 1.She systematically puts together many facts and ideas, some highly speculative, some inarguably true, some striking, some pedestrian, into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and therefore logically dificult and perhaps impossible to refute. 2.She systematically addresses each alternative argument and each argument that has been used to attack her ideas and counters it. Do not be misled; this slight, easy to read book by a non-professional anthropologist is important. The anthropologists in this area have a history of internal strife marked by dogmatism and contentiousness. You can bet they react in this way toward Ms. Morgan, although they prefer to ignore her, a non-professional anthropolgist. But after Scars they may not be successful, and anything you can do-- such as asking questions of anthropologists and questioning the answers you get-- will be a plus. For her ideas deserve full and careful consideration and a scientific search for evidence that will support or abolish them.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Desmond Morris Fans, Take Heed 19 May 1998
By A Customer
A former girlfriend and I once agreed to each read "The Naked Ape" by Desmond Morris and "The Descent of Woman" by Elaine Morgan, and then analyze, discuss and argue about the merits of each author's theories. [I had previously read the Naked Ape, and was a firm believer in Morris's ideas]. After reading both books ("The Naked Ape" again), I was appalled and embarrassed at how I had simply accepted Morris' theories without any analytical questioning or deductive reasoning. Elaine Morgan wins this argument hands down, with well-reasoned arguments and logical hypotheses. The last two chapters are the most eloquent statements and arguments of the feminist movement that I have ever read (and I doubt that Ms. Morgan even considers herself a feminist). Read this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Elaine Morgan, the successful Welsh screenwriter, has made a
second career out of defending the Aquatic Ape Theory, first
proposed by Sir Alister Hardy in the early sixties. Sadly,
"The Scars of Evolution/What Our Bodies Tell Us About Human
Origins" does not have many of the qualities that made her
earlier books, "The Descent Of Woman" and "The Aquatic Ape"
so much fun to read. "The Scars of Evolution" continues the
ongoing saga of the Aquatic Ape Theory, which hypothesizes
that our proto-human ancestors spent a significant period of
time in an aquatic or semi-aquatic environment. The evidence
in favor of this theory is mostly indirect, but it is appealing,
unless you are a paleontologist with a career invested in
more traditional explanations (Danny Yee's interviews are
more detailed, and a running debate is on one of the
Usenet groups). Morgan, who is a delightful writer, seems
to be devoted to sounding more scientific in this book, and
the delight and fire shown in her two previous books on the
subject is subdued. It's a shame, and also a mistake. She
isn't a scientist (although she's amazingly well-read), and
will never attain credibility in the hidebound world of
paleoanthropology, so what she loses in readability she
is unlikely to recover in advancing her cause.
If you haven't been exposed to this semi-obscure
controversy over human origins, "The Scars of Evolution"
will give you the gist of it--but if you want to enjoy the
experience, start with "The Descent of Woman".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forest, Water, Land then Everywhere 4 April 2012
Most non-creationists accept that human evolution began when our simian ancestors left the African forest to live in the savannah, moving from walking on all fours to two. Elaine Morgan is a champion of an alternative theory, The Aquatic Ape, that these ancestors left the forest, or more accurately, that the forest left them, to live in and around water. In turn the water receded, leaving our ancestors to live exclusively on land.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in human evolution or in why we are what we are. However, due to personal squeamishness I skipped over the sections on some of the "scars of evolution" such as varicose veins, back pain, obesity and tongue swallowing.

THE THEORY: The Aquatic Ape is an alternative to the Savannah Theory. Perhaps it is a crack-pot theory, or perhaps it will be the accepted theory of the future. I don't know and I am not qualified to judge.

Geologists will be pleased to know of the importance of Plate Tectonics to the Aquatic Ape Theory. The geological activity in the African Rift Valley produced, in evolutionary terms, rapid change. Areas were flooded, forests declined and some habitats became islands. An ape once surrounded by trees was now surrounded by water, then after an evolutionary significant period, these waters receded leaving the descendants again living on dry, but unforested, land.

The author considers a range of human attributes and tests these against both the Savannah and the Aquatic Ape theories and finds the Savannah Theory wanting. There is no need for fur in water, standing upright in shallow water allows breathing, walking on all fours does not. The food sources are richer than on the savannah. Human babies learn to swim easily.
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