Stoned Ape Theory

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In this Article I am going to go into depth explaining Terrance McKenna’s Stoned Ape Theory. For those of you who do not know, Terrance McKenna was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and an advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. He was nothing short of a remarkable mind and his philosophies, ideas and understanding is something we all can learn from.  Along with many other ideologies and theories, Terrance came up with the Stoned Ape Theory. The Stoned Ape Theory states that we as humans became intelligent life-forms because of the introduction of psilocybin mushrooms in our diet centuries ago. The mushrooms gave us the ability to form organized societies, think deeper about existence, increase our survival capabilities and engage in creative activities such as singing, dancing and art.   The theory is explained in greater detail below.


All of the animals and plants on the Earth continue to evolve into an ecological niche where they eventually stabilize. For example an animal that is brought to a foreign island will eventually evolve, after many years, based on the ecosystem of the island and eventually become fully adapted to survive in this environment and its evolution will stabilize. Centuries ago, our primate ancestors, originating from central Africa, lived in dense forests where life was extremely diverse and food was abundant. Eventually these forest dried out due to climate change which diminished the food supply and the rich nutrient sources. They were forced to venture out into unknown territory in search of food and a new settlement.

Terrance states that our ancestors used to eat only one type of food. He goes further to say that as more foods were introduced into our diet, there was a higher probability of mutations of humans at birth. This can explain why today we can see humans who come from different areas of Earth have distinct differences in physical appearance such skin tone and facial features. Since only certain foods could grow in certain areas people from different geographical areas were forced to eat foods based on the area they lived in and eating these same food overtime manipulated our genes which created the diversity we can see across the globe today.

As we experimented with food we changed from being herbivores to omnivores. We came across many plants and animals that have impacted our genetic makeup and is what determined the way we are today. Terrance says that psilocybin mushrooms were a key component in changing our DNA and especially the size of our brains.  He says that small amounts of psilocybin mushrooms were introduced into our diet when we were exploring new foods. This was said to increase mental acuity. It is clearly evident from science today that in small, doses psilocybin mushrooms increases mental acuity. The primates that ingested psilocybin mushrooms would be much more able to hunt and survive due to this increased mental acuity which would then lead the primates that did not ingest the mushroom to have less chance of survival and therefore eventually die out.

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There are three major steps of the evolution of the Stoned Ape Theory.

STEP 1

As stated above small doses of psilocybin mushrooms were introduced into our ancestor’s diet which gave them the mental acuity to increase their survival capabilities which allowed them to survive longer than our ancestors who were not exposed to psilocybin mushrooms. Psilocybin mushrooms grow fairly easy in many different types of climates, so it is highly probable that as our primate ancestors were in search of a new food source, they came across psilocybin mushrooms. 

STEP 2

This is when the primates took higher doses of psilocybin, consciously or unconsciously. Psilocybin can act as a central nervous system stimulant and increase arousal. Increased arousal meant more sex and more sex meant a greater population. After more and more primates ate larger does the way they mated completely changed. Usually, which can be seen today with primates, there is an alpha – male who dominates the social structure and have rights to mate with all the females. The introduction of psilocybin mushrooms at higher doses made this social structure obsolete and there was mating between all apes. This caused the social structure to be more family/ community based which allowed these groups of primates to increase their survival capabilities substantially. Our ancestors also started engaging in creative activities such as singing, dancing and art which made these primates more human like.

STEP 3

At this stage these primates started ingesting even higher doses.  This took them to mystical states and increased there consciousness to the point where they were able to question their reality and were able to further develop their creative faculties. This eventually developed these primates into to what we are today, Human.

This theory always intrigues me. I think that some parts of this theory are very valid and has a high chance of being correct but that being said this is just a theory and should not be taken as fact. The Stoned Ape Theory is  a possible explanation of why humans were able to evolve based on historical migrations patterns of our primate ancestors and the foods that were available in those areas in that time. I think that there are more factors in play to how we evolved into the life forms we are today but I do think psilocybin mushrooms did play their part along with other foods, plants and psychedelics. Science has proven that psychedelics do promote neurogenesis (the growth of brain cells) and for anyone who has experience with psychedelics can see that they do in fact invoke you to think about deep questions such as the nature of reality, therefore it makes it very plausible that psilocybin and other psychedelics greatly aided in increasing our ancestors consciousness. Click here to find out 10 mind-blowing facts about psychedelics.

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If you look closely at what single feature differentiates us from the animals you’ll be able to notice one thing. The human spines are the most vertical compared to all other animals in the world. Actually if you look at it deeper the more vertical the spine of an animal, the greater their intelligence. This is a very interesting distinction. It was almost as if when our spines became vertical our brains blossomed liked flowers. What caused our spines to evolve to become vertical is a mystery, but it could be due to the use of these sacred substances. The answer requires deep searching and is buried within history.

Check out my book “Trip to the Infinite – The Ayahuasca Experience” available on amazon.com to learn more about what ayahuasca is; how it affects your mind, body, and soul; my detailed ceremony reports explaining what exactly happened to me in the South American Jungle; and the ways in which I transformed afterwards. I also included some ways to prepare if you are looking to have an ayahuasca experience of your own. 

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Know your Roots