The stoned ape hypothesis is now resurrected and psychonauts everywhere couldn’t be more pleased. That’s right. The idea of apes eating mushrooms is now officially back.
The stoned ape hypothesis is a somewhat controversial hypothesis from ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna in the 90s. This hypothesis (many incorrectly refer to it as a theory) seeks to explain the doubling in size of the human brain 200,000 years ago. Recently psilocybin mycologist Paul Stamets presented the hypothesis again at the 2017 Psychedelic Science Conference.
The theory goes that 18,000 years ago homo sapiens emerged from the forests and began inhabiting the plains. During this time they made the shift to an omnivorous diet. Somewhere along the way, they discovered psychedelic mushrooms. Psilocybin in particular has been linked to neurogenesis. McKenna believed that is was the ingestion of these mushrooms that sped up the evolution of human consciousness during this period.
“I think this is a very, very plausible hypothesis for the sudden evolution of Homo sapiens from our primate relatives,” Stamets told the audience at the conference. Paleontologist Martin Lockley, Ph.D., agrees that there may be some truth in the claim, but also believes that there may have been other factors which influenced the change. In other words, attributing an increase in human consciousness to one single cause might be a little simplistic.
In early November, Stamets appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast and blew his mind by revealing amazing facts of mycology. Check out the clip below.
According to McKenna and Stamets it is likely that hominids ate their way to higher consciousness. The stoned ape hypothesis is just that — a hypothesis. It cannot be sufficiently proved with supporting facts. Doing so is pretty much impossible. But it is still an interesting idea. In fact, psychedelics are currently making a comeback. Certainly the idea that psilocybin facilitates neurogenesis is hopeful. Psychonauts will be welcoming new members into their fold.
Featured image by John Twohig — Flickr.