By Michel Odent, MD
Since the publication of my book titled “The Birth of Homo, the Marine Chimpanzee”, I have learned through oral and written comments about one of the effects of ultra-specialization. It is a widespread resistance to consider seriously a unifying theoretical framework regarding human nature, based on a simple rule: when a trait is mysterious, because apparently specific to our species, we must look at what we have in common with mammals adapted to the sea. I have understood that, to move a step forward, a short summarized list of such human traits might be more effective than data diluted in a book.
Here is a short summary of such human traits that we share with mammals adapted to the sea:
• The huge development of the brain: mammals adapted to the sea generally have higher “encephalization quotient” than their cousins on land.
• An enzymatic system that is not very effective at making a molecule of fatty acid (“DHA”) which is essential to feed the brain. This molecule is abundant and preformed in the sea food chain.
• Iodine is the most common nutritional deficiency among humans, except those who have access to the sea food chain.
• Nakedness and a layer of fat under the skin are traits shared with sea mammals
• The skin of human newborn babies is covered vernix caseosa (literally cheesy varnish)…like the skin of newborn seals.
• Human mothers do not eat the placenta…a common point with sea mammals.
• The sense of smell of human beings is mysteriously weak. It is the same among whales. When whales separated from hoofed mammals about 60 million years ago and migrated to water, their sense of smell nearly disappeared.
• Body temperature control through the loss of sweat is not a costly mechanism if we think of the human being as a primate adapted to environments where water and minerals are available without restriction.
• A low larynx, which gives us the ability to breathe through our nose or our mouth, is an anatomical particularity shared with sea lions and dugongs.
• A prominent nose is a feature shared with the proboscis, a primate who lives in coastal wetlands and is an excellent distance swimmer.
• The human vagina, like that of sea mammals, is long and oblique, and is protected by a hymen.
• One of the most common abnormalities (or particularities) among humans is a webbing between the second and the third toe. When a congenital abnormality is an addition, it usually means that the feature was there for a reason during the evolutionary process.
• A narrowing of the thoracic aorta (“coarctation of the aorta”) is common among humans and seals
• Menopause, and prolonged life after reproduction, is a feature shared by humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales.
If we add to this recent spectacular advances in population genetics and what we are learning about fluctuations of sea levels and archaic humans as navigators, it appears difficult to go on postponing a radically new vision of man. We are more connected to our marine mammals than we realize.
Read more in Dr. Michel Odent’s most recent book: The Birth of Homo, The Marine Chimpanzee: When the Tool Becomes the Master
Dr. Michel Odent is an advocate for birthing women and their families. He is an OB/GYN who speaks internationally always working to raise the consciousness of how to make childbirth a better experience for women and their families. He is the author of more than 15 books published worldwide. Dr. Odent coined the term “Primal Health” and the “Primal Adaptive System,” helping us to further understand the Primal Period (from conception until the first birthday). He founded the Primal Health Research Center in London and developed the Primal Health Database which now has close to 1,000 research studies showing correlations of experiences a baby has in the Primal Period to his/her health as an adult. He is a long standing member of the BirthWorks Board of Advisors and has been a guest speaker at numerous Birth Works conferences.