Monday, July 13, 2009

theory of human evolution

One controversial theory of human evolution traces certain physical traits that distinguish Homo sapiens from our primate cousins--such as hairlessness and a troublesome tendency to accumulate jiggly layers of fat--to a hypothetical population of early hominids that adopted an amphibious lifestyle several million years ago in Africa. Spend a few days cruising the Similan and Surin islands off the west coast of Thailand and the aquatic-ape hypothesis can seem plausible indeed. From December through April, the clear waters surrounding these mostly uninhabited tropical isles teem with that peculiar species of marine mammal commonly known as scuba diver; specimens congregate here by the thousands to share some quality time with the indigenous denizens of the Andaman Sea.

The bountiful reefs in this corner of the Indian Ocean embrace all levels of the tropical aquatic food chain: colorful hard and soft corals, crustaceans, starfish, urchins and schools of coastal and oceanic fish. Sea turtles, rays and moray eels are common, as are several kinds of shark--none of which, it must be said, are likely to ask you to lunch. At Richelieu Rock, divers frequently encounter filter-feeding whale sharks from February through April, when the massive, yet essentially harmless, leviathans inexplicably congregate around an isolated underwater pinnacle.

A diverse fleet of Phuket-based live-aboards provides easy access to the impressive range of dive sites scattered among the chain of islands. If the missing link was an aquatic ape, there's no better place in Southeast Asia to get in touch with your sunken ancestral roots.

--By Morris Dye

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Source Citation:"Detour." Time International 46 (Nov 20, 2000): 8[D]. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 13 July 2009


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Len Wilson

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