Is Our Brainpower Linked to Magic Mushrooms? The Stoned Ape Theory Says Yes

Is Our Brainpower Linked to Magic Mushrooms? The Stoned Ape Theory Says Yes

Is it possible that the evolution of humans (primates) was impacted by psychedelics? According to since-passed-away psychonaut Terence McKenna, yes. Which was the genesis of The Stoned Ape Theory.

For those unfamiliar with the stoned ape theory, it comes from McKenna’s thought that, as early humans moved from continent to continent, they foraged new environments and unknowingly took psilocybin compounds. Without knowing it, these humans’ brains evolved faster than expected — all from the power of psychedelics.

While it may seem outlandish on its surface, McKenna’s knowledge and history with ecology and psychedelics at least warrant the theory to be plausible.

So, is the stoned ape theory legit, or just a figment of McKenna’s imagination? Our resident neuroscientist, Zeus Tipado, helps explain.

Here’s a Quick Overview of What the Stoned Ape Theory Actually Is

Basic PremiseEarly human ancestors consumed psychedelic mushrooms, which significantly influenced human evolution
Psychedelics InvolvedMainly psilocybin mushrooms
Proposed Evolutionary PeriodDuring the time when Homo erectus transitioned to Homo sapiens. Which spanned the time between 1.9 million and 250,000 years ago
Key Effects on Early Humans– Enhanced visual acuity
– Improved neurological development
– Increased creativity and problem-solving skills
– Development of language and abstract thinking
Impact on Society and CultureFormation of religious and spiritual experiences; roots of human belief systems
Scientific ReceptionLargely speculative and not widely supported in the scientific community; lacks empirical evidence
Cultural SignificancePopular in countercultural and psychedelic communities; influenced discussions on consciousness and human evolution

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What Neuroscience Says About The Stoned Ape Theory

In the video below, Zeus describes the different parts of the brain, and how each one functions. Before understanding how psychedelics effect the brain, it’s crucial to know why and how it impacts human behavior. Tipado explains this.

He then answers the million dollar question: Why McKenna’s hypothesis may be legitimate.

  1. Psychedelics induce our forebrain to distribute oxygenated blood
  2. Over many generations, this would result in an evolutionary increase of the forebrain
  3. This change would reflect an increase in higher brain functions

To learn more, watch the video below.

Do there remain questions regarding Terence McKenna’s stoned ape theory? Absolutely. But the information in the video helps explain how psychedelics impact the brain, and how early humans may have received those benefits.

We suggest reading more information from McKenna, who remains a major influence on the psychedelic community despite passing away more than two decades ago.

Check out more information on psychedelics by following HealingMaps on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Healing Maps Editorial Staff

Healing Maps Editorial Staff

View all posts by Healing Maps Editorial Staff

The Healing Maps Editorial Team has decades of experience across all facets of the psychedelic industry. From assessing studies and clinic research, to working with clinician's and clinics, we help provide data-backed information to psychedelic-curious individuals across the globe.

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