The Stoned Ape Theory lead image

The Stoned Ape Theory

The Stoned Ape Theory was first introduced by Terence McKenna, suggesting human evolution was influenced by the consumption of magic mushrooms.
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Terence McKenna, a highly influential figure in the realm of psychedelics, originally proposed the Stoned Ape Theory. While his life story merits a book of its own, his intriguing theory on early human evolution and the potential entheogenic influences has sparked debates for decades.

In essence, the theory posits that human development can be linked to the consumption of psilocybin mushrooms. Terence buttresses his argument with supporting points such as environmental shifts, animal domestication, religious symbology, and the evolutionary advantages of psychedelics.

The foundation of this theory lies in the observation of the shifting climate conditions confronted by early Homo sapiens. With the global temperature on the rise, the rainforests that they once inhabited began to diminish, pushing them toward grassland environments. 

The theory, in short, suggests that human development can be attributed to the use of psilocybin mushrooms.

This transition prompted a quest for alternative food sources, leading humans to interact with animals from these biomes, particularly ungulates.

Biomes are large ecological areas characterized by distinct types of plants, animals, and environmental conditions. Ungulates, on the other hand, refer to a diverse group of mammals with hooves, such as deer, antelopes, and zebras.

Though they likely hunted a range of hoofed mammals for sustenance, the cow stood out as the most significant animal with which humans formed a connection.

Evidence from archaeology indicates that around 10,500 years ago, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic inhabitants of Jericho were among the first to domesticate cows. However, the enduring bond between humans and cows has been evident worldwide. This profound connection is reflected in various ways, from ancient cave art during the Neolithic period to their significant role in religious practices.

Cows are revered by many for their multifaceted contributions, including providing meat, milk, and serving as working animals. Additionally, their manure was highly valuable for agricultural purposes, aiding not only in crop cultivation but also potentially facilitating the growth of mushrooms like Psilocybe cubensis.

This is the point where McKenna's theory starts to unfold. In this period, communities would have regularly interacted with cows, and as they grappled with food shortages due to environmental changes, they would have sought out alternative food options. The appearance of mushrooms on the cow dung in their surroundings would undoubtedly have captured the attention of hungry individuals.

In response, they likely followed the natural instinct of their survival-based ancestors by sampling small portions of these psychedelic mushrooms to observe the effects. Essentially, they engaged in microdosing, consuming small quantities to explore the distinct properties of these mushrooms.

In contrast to the current societal stigma surrounding psychedelics, our ancestors did not engage in harmful practices like staring at the sun or descending into madness when consuming psilocybin. Rather, even a small dose of this substance would likely have yielded evolutionarily advantageous effects.

Enhanced visual clarity, improved cognitive connectivity, heightened sexual arousal, and increased auditory sensitivity are among the potential benefits that consuming psilocybin mushrooms could have provided to Homo sapiens. These effects would have undoubtedly enhanced the survival capabilities of individuals ingesting the mushrooms, 

These effects would have undoubtedly enhanced the survival capabilities of individuals ingesting the mushrooms

granting them an advantageous edge in their quest for survival.

The implications of this theory are vast, with the possibility that our ancestors, having experienced the positive effects of psilocybin, may have ventured into higher doses. This progression towards heightened psychedelic experiences could have induced a unique blend of effects.

The notable surge in neural connections could have potentially fueled brain expansion, fostering increased consciousness and deeper philosophical insights. 

For early humans, such profound experiences would have been incredibly intriguing, sparking significant debate over their implications. The influence of psychedelics on various aspects of human life, particularly religion, becomes apparent. Cows resurface as a recurrent symbol in religious narratives, while accounts of intense spiritual encounters bear resemblance to psychedelic experiences.

Some speculate that the emergence of religion itself could be tied to human interactions with psychedelics. Although viewed as controversial by some, the profound implications of this concept warrant further examination.


So, the big question is: should we keep looking into what these hallucinogens can show us? While psychedelics have been predominantly researched for their potential therapeutic applications in mental health disorders of late, what lies ahead in their exploration? Can we gain insights into the profound impact of these substances on influential figures like Francis Crick, who purportedly envisioned the DNA helix structure during an LSD-induced trip? Do psychedelics represent a new frontier for consciousness exploration, or do they merely induce detached experiences unrelated to universal truths?