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commented on March 4, 2014
I'm sure a multitude of you have heard the classic theory of the Stoned Ape. At first glance the concept may appear to be entirely speculative, maybe even downright preposterous. None the less, I have a thirst for inquiry regarding the scientific basis, and seek a healthy level of discussion pertaining to the topic matter. The full theory can be examined in a variety of audio lectures and also found within the texts of "Food of the Gods" by Terence McKenna. There is a lot of detail involved in the proposal, so I apologize if any bit of information is left out. Please feel free to fill in the blanks of what is unmentioned, and also add your personal conjecture, cited facts, and comparative textual references.
As all of us know, the scientific institution tells us we emerged from the homonid ape. Before even making that evolutionary transition our remote ancestors we're believed to be canopy dwelling primates from the African continent. Primates whose diet heavily consisted of fruits and different varieties of insects crawling amongst the branches. Due to certain environmental conditions, the once lush rainforest we inhabited began to dry up. In effect creating a deficet in proper nutritional requirements that could be obtained by the trees. The scarcity of food caused us to descend from this platform and forcibly become accustomed to foraging amongst the land for nourishment. Apes as well as other species go about dietary inculcation through the process of trial and error. So in other words if the food item in question didn't provide any physiological benefits, or rather had harmful effects on the body, it would be discontinued from edibility standards. Different mycological specimens would've been considered in this process, as there are a wide variety of non toxic fruit bodies that can be cultivated at the base of trees. This initial familiarity would've fostered a recognition of other mushrooms as a potential dietary staple, and led an investigation of different varieties growing among the African grasslands. Psilocybin mushrooms (being the main topic of discussion) would eventually have been discovered due to their vivid blue appearance (as a result of oxidation) and there enormous size. One particular strain, known as strophoria cubensis, share a symbiotic relationship with cattle, and as a result emerge from cow fecal matter. There have been witnessed reports of apes flipping over cow pies to acquire beetle grubs beneath the surface, so I don't believe it's to extreme of an idea to propose they would've come in contact with these mushrooms. As stated earlier, there's a process of trial and error involved, so initial consumption would've been in minute amounts that eventually evolved into greater weight consumption. Psilocybin in small amounts has been proven to enhance visual acuity and edge detection, so an evolutionary benefit to eating them would be the ability to notice predators with greater ease and make the foraging process less difficult as well. Speculatively, the apes consuming these small amounts of psilocybin would outbreed the non mushroom consuming apes, because they'd be gathering more food and avoiding predators more often (they'd probably even have better targeting skills when throwing a rock, which is believed to play a part in neurological evolution). At slightly higher doses, acknowledging that psilocybin is a Central nervous system agonist, it would also therefore be a sexual catalyst. This means that there would be more successful states of copulation, and as a result once again these apes would outbreed the ones who aren't consuming the psychotropic agent. When doses begin to increase even more, making there way into the psychoactive domain, this is when things get really interesting. I think a certain level of self awareness unfolds at this point, because the cognizance of the distinction between the sober mind and the perturbed state of consciousness becomes present. By recognizing this difference, higher brain function begins to steadily emerge, because the focus becomes more inwardly directed. The next portion of this theory becomes slightly dicey, because it boils down to defining what consciousness is as an entity or function. We all know advanced syntax and linguistic organization is a primary factor that separates the human from the lower animal mind, more physically defined as the evolution of the cerebral cortex from the brain stem and limbic system. Language is what creates abstractions from direct cause and effect relationships. A dog doesn't question why his tail doesn't wag the way it used to like a human questions his/her motives and emotions. So this is a potential chemical catalyst that could've lead to the construction of language and internal dialect. There have been studies that show pentecostal christians when speaking in tongues experience reported states of glossillalia, which is basically a neurological seizure that occurs, where meaningless words are entangled in a non linear sentence structure. The same phenomenon occurs when heavy dosages of tryptamine, indole based compounds are ingested. Is it possible that language was accidentally created by this extraordinary state of intoxication? I'm sure words and an eventual linguistic system weren't very advanced in the beginning, and object matter associations probably didn't occur for a period of time. It was most likely just sounds and grunts at first that were used as a form of entertainment. There has to be a catalyst that led to such rapid development of the neocortex, because there is only a short window in history for it to have evolved, roughly estimating over 100,000 years (don't quote me on that metric). I'm certain there are other dietary regiments that were coupled with this evolutionary momentum, but the need for something strange and obscure seems fitting, because no other animal has shown such rapid neurological growth in history. Anyone who has ever consumed a psychedelic drug, knows there's a strong sense of social connection often times with others. Could this have led to family based organization that contributed to the latter development of art, music, folklore, and so forth? Apes are typically aggressive, highly sexed dominance types, so there communal organization isn't that sophisticated by our standards. Maybe a sense of community steadily developed and nomadicism that promoted more advanced states of evolution. Terence McKenna later goes on to elaborate how alcohol was created as a result of fermentation of these mushrooms being preserved in honey, which he then speculates led to the reemergence of dominator qualities. Paradise lost as he referred to it. The concept here is "You are what you eat"
As I stated earlier, i'm sure there's an abundance of information i didn't present, potential inaccuracies, as well as other alterior considerations, but that's what the discussion is for. This is my first thread, just signed up today, and am excited that I stumbled upon this site. It's a cryptic situation being human, and I prefer to be open to an ongoing list of possibilities. I love non ordinary explanations, and am eager to hear what everyone has to contribute. It's an open floor and I accept any additional info, questions, criticisim, etc. So with that said....scientists, spiritual proponents, skeptics....regardless of your affiliations..team human...feedback please :)