Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Did Mermaids Exist?

There has long been a theory that our hominid ancestors went through an "aquatic" phase at some point in our evolution. So, it was interesting to me to come across these articles recently. 

First, the scientist in this article theorizes that mermaids may have actually existed:
In the two-hour CGI Special “Mermaids: The Body Found,” Animal Planet dives deep into the idea that mermaids may have been real, and, even better -- related to humans!

“It’s a very radical theory on human evolution, but we have approached an age-old myth and really chased its origins,” Animal Planet honcho Charlie Foley told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “It has been compiled in a way that is very compelling, making us think that mermaids might not just be mythical creatures.”

The show unravels mysterious underwater sound recordings and presents a bone-chilling argument for the Aquatic Ape Theory, which suggests that during the transition from apes to hominid, some humans went through an aquatic stage. This stage is argued to have resulted in “aquatic ape-like” creatures.

“There are striking differences between us and other primates, yet [there are] many features we share with marine mammals, like the webbing between our fingers, which other primates don’t have, a layer of subcutaneous fat, and a loss of body hair,” Foley explained. “We also have an instinctive ability to swim, and control over breath. Humans can hold breath up to 20 minutes, longer than any other terrestrial animal.”

“Mermaids: The Body Found” ponders the concept that coastal flooding millions of years ago turned some of our ancestors inland, while another group branched off into the deep water out of necessity and for food.
(Italics added).

Relative to the italicized line, is this second article, which is from the Daily Mail:
A German 'free diver' has apparently entered the Guinness World Records by holding his breath under water for more than 20 minutes.

Tom Sietas, 35, competed with former record holder, Brazilian Ricardo Bahia, to set the new record by not inhaling for 22:22 minutes.

The extraordinary feat is thought to have been completed in China in a pair of tanks next to one another over the weekend. Bahia's previous record was 20:21 minutes.

* * *

Sietas has broken his own records on multiple occasions for the event, officially known as static apnea, since he first started doing it in 2000.

But he has also earned several records for 'dynamic apnea' - swimming as far as possible under water without breathing.

Sietas has said in the past that he does not eat for five hours before carrying out the stunts to slow his metabolism.

He then fills his lungs with as much pure oxygen as he can, but even without that he once held the record for static apnea without pure oxygen first, holding his breath for 10:12mins. The current record was set by Stéphane Mifsud in 2009 with a time of 11:35mins.

Sietas has a lung capacity that is 20 per cent larger than average for a person of his size and his 'talent' was first noticed when his scuba-diver instructor noticed his ability to hold his breath.
While there is evidence that our planet had a denser atmosphere (mostly more CO2, but also more O2) in the past, our ancestors did not have access to pure oxygen. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider whether or not there was an aquatic hominid at some time.

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