If you lived underwater what would you look like?

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1. Underwater explorers

Humans have long had a fascination with the sea. After all, water covers 71% of our planet.

Since the development of the aqualung in 1943 by pioneering underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, technological advances have made it possible for more of us to experience our underwater world. Scuba diving, submarines and underwater hotels aside, could a truly underwater human ever exist?

2. How you'd need to change to be truly aquatic

“Within 50 years a new breed of humans, Homo aquaticus, the Water Man, will live under water without an air supply,” said Cousteau. Click / tap the image and slide left and right to see how your body would need to change to adapt to life underwater.

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3. Are we already marine mammals?

From nomadic hunters to competitive athletes, some humans already display abilities on par with animals adapted to a marine life. Click around the diver’s body to find out what they can do.

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4. Could a human dive deeper than a walrus?

Are we really so different from our marine cousins? We might be closer than you think.

Hold your breath

Could you hold your breath longer than a sea otter?

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Hold your breath

Sea otter longest recorded dive: 4.06 minutes. Dynamic apnea competitor Goran Colak: 4.30 mins on a single breath, beating the sea otter by 24 seconds.

Deep-diving

Can a human dive deeper than a walrus?

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Deep-diving

Deepest recorded walrus: 117m. They can potentially go deeper but all they need is in the shallows. Constant weight freediver Alexey Molchanov: 128m in 2013.

Speed

Could you out-swim a manatee?

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Speed

50m freestyle swimmer Cesar Cielo’s top speed in 2009: 6.44mph (10.4km/h). West Indian Manatee: 29mph (46.7km/h) have been recorded when avoiding boats.

5. How could you see more clearly underwater?

The Moken people of Thailand have the extraordinary ability to see clearly underwater. Find out how they do it.

Most of us have blurred underwater vision. This is because our irises open to cope with the darkened conditions. The Moken people, however, can overrule this automatic reflex of the eye. They are able to close the iris, allowing them to see clearly while swimming beneath the surface. Recent studies show that any child can learn this trick.

6. Did humans evolve to live on land?

In 1960 distinguished marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy proposed a controversial new theory: that humans evolved to be able to live an aquatic life.

The evolutionary path humans have taken to reach where we are now is the subject of debate. For many the theory that man descended from the trees to walk across the savannah is the theory of choice. For others, Sir Hardy’s observations seem more plausible.

The 'Aquatic ape theory' is founded on the observation that apes can walk upright but choose not to, apart from when wading through water. It also points to the fact that we are hairless and have an unusual quantity of fat just beneath our skin. Some believe that these adaptations are the vestiges of a semi-aquatic lifestyle, where early man inhabited coastal regions diving to shallow depths and migrating along coastlines and rivers.

Although many have disregarded the theory as 'fringe' science, the theory continues to attract supporters across academic disciplines.