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The Dolphin-Human Connection

The following is a commentary on the human-dolphin connection involving little known facts. As the result of scientific research, it is becoming more convincing that dophins are the "other humans" that share the planet with us.

Seem like a far-fetched idea? Many of the commonly accepted world views of today were not so common nor accepted at one time. A shift in world opinion first begins with the first few pioneers who bravely introduce a new thought that often meets with great resistance and disbelief first.

The ancestral connections between dolphins and humans is based on continuing research and other convincing evidence. You may find it quite thought provoking.
by Paula Peterson
Earthcode International Network

The aquatic ape theory was first put forward by Alister Hardy, research scientist and Professor of Zoology, Oxford University, back in 1960.

Hardy suggested that many of the characteristics that make humans so very different than the apes can be accounted for if humankind passed through a semi-aquatic phase a very long time ago.

An increasing number of anthropologists and other scientists are considering the aquatic ape theory more seriously.

Our aquatic phase is theorized to have taken place between nine and three million years ago, at a time which corresponds with the emergence of the dolphin of today.

Mounting evidence suggests that human's are more closely related to dolphins, far more than they are related to apes. Some of you may be laughing and scoffing right now. However, if you've studied the latest scientific research, you would be impressed.

Continuing research increasingly supports that humans, dolphins, and apes evolved from a common ancestor.

Why hasn't any of this research been made more public? Obviously, it clashes with the versions set down by academic institutions throughout the world: humans evolved from the apes - and few have challenged it. Darwin did a good job of convincing us, and largely, his theories laid the foundation for all subsequent research studies involving human origin. Studies on human-ape correlation seem endless.

There are fewer studies comparing humans and cetaceans (dolphins and whales). These studies have been restricted to the similarities of the brain, especially the neocortex. In this regard the cetacean brain is nearly identical, and may even be superior to the human brain according to the latest research. But there are many more similarities as follows.

Research into the skeletal structure of Cetaceans shows vestiges of toes (fingers?) and dewclaws (thumbs?). These evolved into powerful flippers and tails, indicating that dolphins and whales once lived on the land. But that research is pretty common knowledge these days.

What are lesser known, and far more interesting characteristics, are those that point to some fascinating connections with humans. In the works of theorist Sir Alister Hardy, award-winning writer Elaine Morgan, and in the studies of Dr. Michel Odent - world famous surgeon and pioneer into human water births - dolphins, humans and apes are likely to have evolved from a common ancestor millions of years ago.

One of the most noticeable differences between human and ape is the lack of hair. Humans do, indeed, have hairs all over the body. However, the hairs are short, fine and less conspicuous. The argument for this difference is that our early ancestors had to stay cool from the heat of the Savanna deserts where early humans are said to have first appeared. But that makes no sense. Even in the hottest countries, apes and other animals still have hair. In fact, the hair provides insulation and protection from heat as well as the suns rays.

And why did the hunting male, who was likely to over heat in the course of the hunt, retain more hair than the slower-moving female waiting back home?

Aquatic ape theory points out that virtually all hairless mammals are either aquatic or wallowers. The longer an animal has been in the water, the more complete the hair loss. Dolphins still retain a few vestigial bristles around their snout, but otherwise, their silken skin is entirely naked.

The only ocean mammals that have fur are those who get out of the water to spend time on land in cold climates such as seals or otters. It's interesting that human's have most of the hair on their heads, which is the part of the body that is above water while swimming. The aquatic ape theory suggests that humans kept the hair on their heads for protection and to give their offspring something to hang onto while the parent spent time wallowing in the water.

Having no hair on the body makes human skin very sensitive and pleasurable to touch. Lack of body hair, sensitive skin, and sensuality is a common trait humans share with dolphins and other cetaceans.

Male apes mount the female only from behind during copulation. The most frequent position during copulating humans is face to face. The only position of copulation for dolphins is face to face. Dolphins, like humans, have sex even when they are not in heat which is unusual in the animal kingdom.

It has been hypothesized that the larger brain and expanded neocortex - which is a common trait shared between humans, dolphins and whales - is correlated with increased sexual activity which is unconnected with reproductive goals. Homosexual contact is common among dolphins and is rarely found elsewhere among animals (although there are studies in which this behavior has been observed in other animal species).

There is a fatty layer beneath the skin of all humans that makes us different than all other apes, which have no such fatty layer. The human infant's extra fatty tissue gives them natural buoyancy. This fatty layer is found in dolphins and all ocean dwelling mammals.

Although most apes have a fear of water, humans are highly attracted to water and will swim for pleasure. Human infants can swim before they can walk. These traits are uncommon among the apes. Humans are also equipped with a diving reflex. This is not found among apes. When a human dips his face in water, the heart rate immediately slows down. This kind of reflex is found in dolphins, whales and all animals that dive.

The infamous freestyle diver, Jacques Mayol, was able to plunge to a depth of over 100 meters during a single held breath. Mayol believes that dolphins were a source of inspiration to him.

Humans perspire as a response to heat. Apes do not. Humans shed tears. Apes do not. The interesting thing about tear glands is that it is commonly found among sea mammals as an adaptation to the marine environment.

When comparing humans and apes, the mechanics of human births are difficult - and among the apes it is not. There is no pelvic cavity in apes and the infant's head is always smaller than the mother's skeleton which makes birthing easy. In humans, birth is painful and often difficult because the infant's head - from the frontal lobes to the back - is larger than the mother's pelvic floor. The shoulders are larger, too, making it necessary for the baby to advance through the birth canal in a spiral motion in order to come out. Dolphin infants also spiral out through the birth canal.

Apes give birth alone, without help, usually in the dead of night, and they eat the placenta. Human births often require help from at least one other and only in certain rare, remote cultures does a human mother eat the placenta. Unique among mammals, dolphin births require an experienced female to be in attendance to help and the placenta is never eaten.

In an upright or horizontal position, the spine of sea mammals is aligned with the hind limbs, as it is in humans. Adaptation to water requires that the spine be very flexible, as it is in both dolphins and humans. This is not so with apes.

And then, of course, there are many studies comparing the similarities of the human and dolphin brain. Dolphins and humans both have huge cerebral (neocortical) development, which is apparently on the same scale. On the other hand, the brain of the ape is very small, with very little neocortex development. Dolphins are amazingly intelligent; there is no question about it. However, how researchers go about determining intelligence is through human perspective. It is not only possible, but highly likely that dolphins have an intelligence that goes well beyond our ability to measure it, and that they use their intelligence in a very different way than we do.

For instance, inside the dolphin brain is a chamber that baffles researchers: recent studies imply that this mysterious area of the brain may serve in achieving meditative states, contemplation or abstract thought. A favorite theory is that this chamber is not only responsible for all these activities, but that it additionally serves in telepathic communication and in visualizing in holographic fashion.

Among the apes, there has been a steady, adaptive increase in brain size throughout their evolutionary period. Yet the prehistoric development of the human brain does not follow this trend: it takes an unprecedented leap forward.

The human brain has become greatly different from the mammals to an extent shared only with the bottlenose dolphin.

Special kinds of lipids, known as the essential fatty acids, are the building blocks for brain tissue. These acids the omega-6 fatty acids from leafy green and seed-bearing plants and the omega-3 fatty acids from marine phyto-plankton and algae are used in the human brain in a balance of 1:1 and is shared only with the dolphins which have the same ratio. Biochemicaly, dolphins are still land mammals living in a marine environment.

The list goes on and on, and only a few points of comparisons have been covered: there are many others. Some of you reading this article intuitively know there is truth to these statements and it simply makes sense. Others may need a lot more convincing. However, it's likely that most will agree that dolphins and whales are extraordinary creatures, and it's becoming more difficult to classify them as mere animals. They are, in many ways, the "other humans" who choose to live in the sea.

It's interesting, too, that Jacques Cousteau - legendary ocean explorer - wrote that the original sin was gravity and that we will only achieve redemption when we return to the water - as cetaceans did long ago.

To learn more about the fascinating Aquatic Ape theory, please check out Elaine Morgan's works - author of the highly acclaimed The Descent of Woman and The Aquatic Ape.

If you want to read more on the amazing comparisons with dolphins and humans, read the book Water and Sexuality by internationally acclaimed, Dr. Michel Odent. It isn't really about sexuality: perhaps he gave it that title to attract more readers! It's a hard book to find, but you may still locate copies at

by Paula Peterson

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Humans Genes Closer To Dolphins' Than Any Land Animals
by Seema Kumar

Discovery Channel Online News

January 1998

For years, marine biologists have told us that dolphins share many traits with humans, including intelligence and friendliness. Now, a comparison of dolphin and human chromosomes shows that the genetic make-up of dolphins is amazingly similar to humans.

In fact, researchers at Texas A&M University have found that dolphins have more in common with us genetically than cows, horses or pigs.

"The extent of the genetic similarity came as a real surprise to us," says David Busbee of Texas A&M University, who published his results in last week's Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics.

This information will not only help researchers construct the genetic blueprint of dolphins, but also bolster conservation efforts.

Aided by the progress made in mapping the human genome, researchers will continue to identify individual genes on dolphin chromosomes. Busbee estimates it will save them 20 years of work, and the similarities and differences will reveal how long ago humans and dolphins branched off the evolutionary tree.

Researchers at Texas A&M University applied "paints," or fluorescently labeled human chromosomes, to dolphin chromosomes, and found that 13 of 22 dolphin chromosomes were exactly the same as human chromosomes.

Of the remaining nine dolphin chromosomes, many were combinations or rearrangements of their human counterparts. Researchers also identified three dolphin genes that were similar to human genes.

Until now, researchers have never been able to do genetic studies of dolphins because they are a protected species, making it difficult to get tissues from them. However, Busbee was able to grow colonies of cells from fetal tissues when a female dolphin miscarried.

"Dolphins are marine mammals that swim in the ocean and it was astonishing to learn that we had more in common with the dolphin than with land mammals," says Horst Hameister, professor of medical genetics at the University of Ulm in Germany.

In the past 15 years, the world's dolphin populations have declined considerably, exacerbated by high levels of PCBs. Researchers speculate that PCBs impair the immune systems of dolphins, leaving them vulnerable to disease.

"If we can show that humans are similar to dolphins, and anything that endangers dolphins is an equal concern for humans, it may be easier to persuade governments to become serious about combating industrial pollution and keeping oceans clean," says Busbee.

By Seema Kumar, Discovery Channel Online News


Other thought-provoking and delightful dolphin-related articles are here on this website - just click on the link below. Or see all the articles by going to the menu-bar at the top of this page and look under DOLPHINS.

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