Apes stoned on drugs became modern man
May 26, 2006 | 69 comments
Several hundred thousand years ago, a group pre-human apes accidentally discovered the joys and wonders of taking hallucinogenic drugs, and that’s what lead to eventual development of us -- homo sapiens. According to this bold theory, we have stoned apes to thank for the development of modern man, the human ego, and our current, highly developed self-reflective consciousness.This is the theory of the late ethnobiologist Terence McKenna, who makes an extremely compelling case for his stoned-ape theory is his marvelously well-written book, “Food of the Gods.”McKenna contends that somewhere in the distant mists of the past, certain hominids stumbled upon mushrooms containing the powerful psychoactive drug, psilocybin. Assuming the mushroom were merely a tasty food, the hominids discovered that they were much more -- when they ingested them, their minds expanded, evolved and innovated, and most important of all, became self-reflective. In other words, for the first time, and animal could recognize itself as a unique individual within the vast pantheon of nature.
They discovered that higher mental concepts were possible. McKenna writes:“The evolutionary breakouts that led to the appearance of language and, later, writing are examples of fundamental, almost ontological, transformations of the hominid line. Besides providing us with the ability to code data outside the confines of DNA, cognitive activities allow us to transmit information across space and time.”McKenna notes that significant evolutionary development in most species needs a minimum of a million years, and more often, tens of millions of years. Yet, the emergence of modern human from primate ancestors, happened in fewer than three million years. That included an astoundingly rapid increase in brain size, and also sophisticated social and cultural behaviors.Natural psychoactive chemicals may not only have expanded the minds of proto-humans, but also triggered key mutations that caused sudden and rabid increase in brain size. Additionally, psychotropic mushrooms induce key behaviors in those who eat them -- increased visual acuity, a higher sex drive, stronger physical stamina, and most importantly, access to higher levels of thought. All of these factors would have helped them outcompete, outbreed and springboard ahead of other primate species.
It’s interesting to note that the kind of mushroom with the most psilocybin, stropharia cubensis, grows best in cattle dung. That means that as humans grew smarter, they eventually were able to domesticate cattle, which in turn provided more manure, which was excellent for growing more mushrooms.McKenna suggested there was a symbiotic relationship between human beings and mushrooms. The mushrooms provided humans with transcendent consciousness, and in return, humans learned to cultivate them, and part of that process was the successful domestication of livestock -- which provided even more food and stability for human beings.McKenna goes even further, and boldly (or perhaps wildly) suggests that there is much more to hallucinogenic mushrooms than meets the eye. He posits that psychoactive chemicals in mushrooms may be nothing less than a kind of “plant consciousness” and that by ingesting such plants, human ancestors tapped into it and joined with that plant consciousness. McKenna also suggests that this was our planet’s method of developing or uplifting the planet as a whole into one mass being of higher consciousness -- Gaia.“Food of the Gods” is a book that goes far beyond McKenna theory of drug-assisted evolution -- he also explores with sharp insight mankind’s long relationship with drugs of all kinds, from mushrooms and cannabis, to our moderns obsession with hard drugs like alcohol, cocaine -- and soft drugs, like caffeine, nicotine and even refined white sugar.Whatever you think of McKenna’s ideas -- which are controversial to say the least -- I strongly recommend his book to anyone with an open mind and who enjoys extremely creative suggestions that pertain to human evolution.
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Ken Korczak is the author of Minnesota Paranormala:http://www.amazon.com/Minnesota-Paranormala-Volume-1-ebook/dp/B004Y5G114/