What Is The Stoned Ape Theory?

Around 30,000 years ago, humankind, or rather, the Homo species, experienced a leap in conscious and cognitive abilities. This is evidence from the sudden evolution of sophisticated art, language, and enhanced audio-visual perception and creativity from archeological artifacts gathered from around the world.

This emerging intelligence has baffled scientists since the discovery of the phenomenon, and many notable names across various scientific fields have failed to provide a reason or cause … except for one man!

Introducing the Shaman

Terrence McKenna

An illustrious scientific career, several publications and books, and hours of audio lectures; this is the legacy of a man named Terrence McKenna, who spent his entire life studying psychedelic substances and their effects on the mind and body.

His research was increasingly focused on the ethnological and archeological evidence for the cultural and religious use of psychoactive and psychedelic substances by ancient communities worldwide.

His exploration of the Amazon rainforest, travels across Asia, and experimentation with various substances at home led him to define and explain various metaphysical and historical phenomena, such as the nature of time and space and the limitless capabilities of the human mind, and the emergence of human intelligence.

One of his much-debated and widely appreciated theory is the stoned ape theory, which is explained in detail below.

Hallucinating Humans


According to the stoned ape theory, early hominid communities adopted a hunter-gatherer nomadic lifestyle. Such communities would migrate from one place to the next in search of game and edible plants that could sustain their population.

You can imagine such early communities resembling herds in a manner that regularly experienced environmental and evolutionary pressure due to their limited intelligence, communication, and resourcefulness.

This scenario soon took a huge turn when these wandering communities discovered a kind of mushroom during their travels and incorporated it into their diet.

They did not know that this simple mushroom would change the fabric of their society and the capabilities of their minds … forever.

The Food of the Gods

In his book, entitled "Food of the Gods," McKenny highlights that early hunter-gatherer hominids discovered the Psilocybin genera of mushrooms and made it part of their regular diet.

This mushroom is known to produce highly hallucinogenic experiences, even at relatively small doses.

This new paradigm of perception, as McKenny explains, led to the evolution of cognitive understanding and intelligence in early humans and is responsible for the appearance and development of art, language, music, religion, and culture of the Homo Sapiens.

Expanding Boundaries

As McKenny explains, the new diet of the early Homo Sapiens slowly began to revolve around Psilocybin mushrooms. At small doses, the mushroom led to enhanced spatial perception, specifically the detection of edges and angles. At a bit higher dose, McKenny explains, the fungus would have led to the development of more energetic sexuality and at still higher portions, would have led to a decrease in aversions and inhibitions, leading to a communal social setup that promoted reproduction, giving rise to the tribal and settled culture of early humans.

McKenny also noted that the mushrooms' incredibly powerful hallucinations probably led to the development of art, music, and language, as humans began to conceive and understand new rhythms, sounds, and tunes.

An Emerging Society

Psychedelic Society

This new paradigm of culture led to the creation of shamanic societies where the exploration of the self was promoted using mushrooms and other psychedelic substances either ceremoniously, religiously, or freely by participating members of the community.

A more evolved and intelligent race of humans began to emerge that benefitted from more exceptional cognitive abilities and more capable problem-solving skills that probably led to the evolution of tool use, giving Home Sapiens an edge above the rest of the Hominoid species that no doubt concurrently populated the planet during the early period of the species.

As the interaction of different communities increased, this led to the intermingling of diverse populations, causing an exchange of genes, with natural selection favoring the more intelligent and creative members of the species.

Soon, a vibrant society emerged from the ranks of the Homo Sapiens that have developed into the global culture we are experiencing today.


Although met with extreme criticism and objections from various sources, the stoned ape theory has gained many proponents since its inception. It continues to grow in popularity among scientific circles to this day.

As McKenny once expressed, there will soon come a time when humankind will realize that our conceptions regarding the origins of our species and intelligence were misinterpreted entirely and that there is no doubt that we are yet to explore the hidden potentials of the human mind fully.

Fortunately for us, we have the benefit of using psychedelics to enhance our realm of experiences safely and responsibly, as McKenny advocated.