Where would we be without Psychedelics? Stuck in some back water without a thought in our heads…says a new study. Thank Goodness, Our Ancient Ancestors “Tripped” on Magic Mushrooms! Because it turns out that psychedelics played a huge role in human evolution. That’s the word – just out after German anthropologists discovered mushroom spores on the teeth of a prehistoric woman who lived 18,700 years ago. And that human’s self realization evolved with the help of psychedelics, and according to anthropologists it specifically it helped with self-realization and development of language!
Terence McKenna was an American philosopher who focused much of his career on the nature of consciousness and its relationship with psychedelic drugs. Throughout his research, one of his longest standing theories about the nature of conscious evolution was that the primitive man encountered psychedelic mushrooms. McKenna has proposed that our ancestors incorporated psychedelics into their diet, prompting self-realization and the development of language.
McKenna also believes that such mushrooms are potentially alien to Earth’s natural ecosystems. Thinking about this: each mushroom is capable of emitting millions and millions of spores so small that they can be subject to electrostatic forces in the environment. It is possible for those spores to be carried aloft out of Earth’s atmosphere. If pushed into space by electrostatic forces, a mushroom species could colonize the habitable planets of the galaxy in around 40 million years.
Interestingly, in low doses, psilocybin increases visual acuity by increasing edge detection—grassland animals who incorporated psilocybin into their diet would actually have a competitive advantage over those who did not. There are many
Here’s what McKenna has to say on the matter:
Whether the mushrooms came from outer space or not, the presence of psychedelic substances in the diet of early human beings created a number of changes in our evolutionary situation. When a person takes small amounts of psilocybin visual acuity improves. They can actually see slightly better, and this means that animals allowing psilocybin into their food chain would have increased hunting success, which means increased food supply, which means increased reproductive success, which is the name of the game in evolution. It is the organism that manages to propagate itself numerically that is successful. The presence of psilocybin in the diet of early pack- hunting primates caused the individuals that were ingesting the psilocybin to have increased visual acuity. At slightly higher doses of psilocybin there is sexual arousal, erection, and everything that goes under the term arousal of the central nervous system. Again, a factor which would increase reproductive success is reinforced.
Could McKenna’s theory bridge a hole in the story of evolution?
“The great embarrassment to the evolutionary theory is the human neocortex,” McKenna said, arguing that there is no explanation for how such a major organ was transformed vastly in such a narrow window of time.
McKenna believed that as they started to eat these mushrooms in low doses, early hominids improved their visuals acuity and became better hunters and survivors—giving them an advantage over those who did not consume psilocybin.
It’s safe to say that McKenna’s theory has met significant pushback from the scientific community. Many of these criticisms have revolved around the lack of evidence for many of his assertions, dismissing this as a “story.”
That’s starting to change as scientific evidence has been introduced that Stone Age humans ate mushrooms. German anthropologists discovered mushroom spores on the teeth of a prehistoric woman who lived 18,700 years ago. Also, Neolithic and Bronze cave paintings that resembled psilocybin mushrooms were found in the Italian Alps and in Spain.
Source: mic.com, bigthink.com