Human evolution has been a long-running debate among many. For centuries philosophers have speculated over the origins of the Homo sapiens (that’s Latin for wise man), aka humans. In fact, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is the most famous of all.

Darwin believed that living creatures evolve according to the environment that they are a part of. This helps them to adapt, survive and bring new life into the world. If you’ve watched 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, you know what I mean.

As I’ve mentioned, theories on evolution have been around for quite a while now. One pretty wild contribution to these hypotheses was by an ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander. He held the belief that humans actually evolved from fish (no, you didn’t read that wrong).

I know what you’re thinking. What could possibly make someone come up with something like that? At least Darwin’s theory slightly made sense even if you don’t agree with it. But trust me; it gets interesting (more than it already is).

According to Anaximander, man used to be a different form of creature than he is now. These creatures not only lived in water but were also enclosed in thorny barks. As their age increased, the barks would eventually come off and they would move to live on land.

Anaximander believed that humans would not have survived in the form they are in now due to their prolonged infancy, which is why they were of a different kind before. These creatures were self-supporting whereas humans could not have been.

The ancient Greek philosopher also held the idea that these fish, or fish-like creatures, came forth from heated water and the earth (evaporation). Inside these fish lived humans in the form of embryos (developing babies) where they stayed until puberty. When they reached this point, the fish would burst open and out came men and women. These humans had lived in an environment where they were nurtured and grown-up enough that they came out with the ability to look after themselves. These humans then further procreated more humans and so on.

The idea that humans were literally birthed by fish does seem ridiculous to me but Anaximander had his reasons. According to many, Anaximander was quite observant. He observed his surroundings and life that inhibited it. He also lived in a time when humans lived in close contact with animals so chances are, he got to witness the fetal development of fish and humans which led him to compare the two. F. M. Cornford, an English classical scholar, actually compared the thorny bark, which Anaximander mentions in his theory, to sea urchins.

Anaximander, after observing fetal development in humans and animals, concluded that all are similar to that of a fish. Also, according to him, if a fetus stayed in the womb long enough, it could grow into different kinds of creatures as well.

Although it is hard to believe that fish gave birth to humans, we’re all allowed to have our own different sets of ideas on many things, and so was Anaximander. Even if his theory on evolution wasn’t plausible, it would still make a good topic for a sci-fi movie.

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  • Born and raised in Pakistan, Tayyaba completed her MPhil degree in English Literature from Kinnaird College, Lahore in 2019. She strongly believes in the humane treatment towards all animals and equality amongst humankind. She also loves listening to the same song on repeat for days, watching reruns of New Girl and spending time with her cats.