Possible biological basis for the origin of art, language, religion and science*
Patricio Bustamante Díaz email@example.com
Researcher in Archaeoastronomy, WACA Wangüelen Astronomía Cultural Americana Group
*Submitted for approval 23 / 10 / 2013
“Shamans say they learn from the plant's sounds.
are attuned to things we don't pay attention to...
…It's really fascinating. We
might have lost that
connection and science is ready to rediscover it.”
Monica Gagliano, Plant acoustics researcher,
University of Western Australia in Crawley, 2012.
Approximately one hundred thousand years ago, in Africa, the modern humans appear on the planet. Between then and now, humans have inhabited all continents and developed complex cultural manifestations such as art, language, religion, astronomy, navigation and science, all apparently uniquely human developments evolutionarily associated in part with brain development. The evidence reviewed in this paper seem to indicate that the basis of all these activities would have a pre-human origin, with traces that could be found in DNA and psychological phenomena such as Pareidolia, Apophenia and Hierophany (PAH Triad), conforming what would be part of the ‘biological toolbox’ for living beings.
These activities have taken various characteristics to the extent that individuals or groups of individuals interacting with their Entorno, (surrounding) with other individuals and with groups of the same or different species. Evidence shows that the bases for this developments would have been imprinted in our DNA from the origins of life.
Keywords: Human Culture; Entorno; Hominids; PAH Triad; DNA; origin of Art.
This line of research began in the Choapa Province, IV Region of Chile, some three decades ago. The research was initially oriented towards the study of the rock art present in the area, then, the evidence found allowed to establish a direct link between these works and their Entorno (Surrounding). This article explores a new aspect to this, related to the biotic Entorno in which the cultures inhabiting the Choapa area were embedded, as part of the human species and as inhabitants of this planet. We propose that in order to fully understand a phenomenon such as the origin of rock art and its meaning, we must broaden the area of research and try to understand, among others, its biological basis, for which science today provides abundant material.
In 2004 we developed the methodological tool called Entorno (surrounding) Archaeology. Bustamante (1), Moyano and Bustamante (2),
providingmeans to link cultural, geographical, climatic, biotical,
astronomical, atmospheric and psychological information from
ethno-archaeological data in small, medium and large scale. It strengthens the
concepts of Landscape archaeology, Criado (3), Bradley (4) and the Declaration
of Xi'An (5). http://www.international.icomos.org/xian2005/xian-declaration.htm
In Bustamante (6), alongside the
concept of Hierophany presented by Eliade (7),we introduced to the
archaeological sphere the psychological phenomenon of Pareidolia, in the
context of our researches in Chile and other South American countries. Pareidolia
is a psychological-perceptive
phenomenon, not necessarily pathological, involving a vague and random
stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. It is
broadly utilized in psychological
exploration by means of the test of Rorcharch.
concept of Hierophany was first introduced by Eliade to describe the experience
of making aware of the existence of the holy when manifested through everyday
objects in our usual environment (profane), sacralising them.
In Bustamante (8) we introduced the
psychological phenomenon of Apophenia,
a term initially coined by Klaus Conrad in 1958 to describe the experience of finding
patterns or connections in otherwise random or meaningless data.
Later, in Bustamante (9) we went
ahead and introduced what we called the PAH
studies indicate the probable influence of the psychological phenomena Pareidolia, Apophenia and Hierophany (PAH
triad) over the sacralization of landscape elements and natural phenomena, in
diverse cultures across the world. PAH seems to be present in the origin of the religions, and its presence in
archaeological sites can be traced as far back as to 3 million years ago.
The evidence for the existence of the PAH relation in
diverse latitudes and cultures, seems to be an indicative for the possible ubiquity
of the phenomenon in space and time. It can be understood as a psychological
tool that may have allowed arrange the chaos and make the world intelligible
for our ancestors”.
Also contained in this article was the concept of Mimetolith (Greek mimetes (an imitator)
and litho (stone)), a term coined in
1989 by Dietrich, and later used by Thomas Orzo Mac Adoo that is, a.a natural topographic feature, rock outcrop, rock specimen,
mineral specimen, or loose stone the shape of which resembles something else
– such as a real or fancied animal, plant, manufactured item, or part(s) of
itb. a topographic
feature, rock outcrop, rock specimen, mineral specimen, or loose stone, the
surface pattern of which resembles the elements described before c. a topographic
feature (et alia) with any combination of shape and pattern that resembles the
The PAH method was
applied for the first time to an archaeological context belonging to a
non-South American culture in Bustamante et al (11) and Bustamante et al (12), both being a condensed and
full versions, respectively, of the study of the origins of the Chinese culture
and the relation of myth and geography as contained in the legends.
Those articles stated
the following: “Applying two
methodological tools of the Entorno Archaeology - Psychological and
Geographical Entorno-, may allow to understand the process that probably led
the Pleistocene humans to sacralise rocks -Mimetoliths- and objects
-Mimetomorphs- with natural forms that resembled animals or human beings, in
increasing scale, from small rocks, big rocks, mountains and Mountainous
ranges, in the early Chinese culture, where we have found that three mythological
characters: Pan-Gu (盘古), Fu-Xi (伏羲) and Shen-Nong (神农), probably were sacralised mountains. Mimesis, by the psychological
phenomena of Pareidolia, Apophenia and Hierophany (The PAH triad), might
explain the many instances when humans between Pleistocene and early Chinese
culture attributed religious significance or extraordinary connections to
ordinary imagery and subjects. On the other hand, Mimetoliths and Mimetomorphs
might contribute to explain the origins of Palaeoart, animism and religion”.
On this paper
we will formulate and try to answer the question:
Does the increase in human
brain capacity explain the development of art, religion, animism, shamanism,
navigation, astronomy and science, or are the bases for this activities
order to formulate an accurate answer, it is not enough to study human beings
and their cultural manifestations, since it is a relatively younger species on
the planet. The antecedents presented from biology, palaeontology, entomology
and other disciplines suggest that the foundation for the development of
activities, typically identified as purely human, are inherent to the biology
of living beings.
The recent Cambridge Declaration on
Consciousness says “The
absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from
experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human
animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological
substrates of conscious states along withthe capacity to exhibit intentional
behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not
unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.
Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures,
including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates”. http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf. This statement opens a new and huge research field (1).
1. The Cambridge Declaration on
Consciousness was written by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana
Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen,
Philip Low and Christof Koch. The Declaration was publicly proclaimed in
Cambridge, UK, on July 7, 2012, at the Francis Crick Memorial
Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, at Churchill
College, University of Cambridge, by Low, Edelman and Koch. The
Declaration was signed by the conference participants that very evening, in the
presence of Stephen Hawking, in the Balfour Room at the Hotel
du Vin in Cambridge, UK. The signing ceremony was memorialized by CBS 60
2. Study Overview
The following are
descriptions of: 2.1 Human activities apparently product of our brain and
cultural development. 2.2 Similar activities carried out by other living
beings, many of them without a brain. In our view, this may well indicate that
it is not in the size or complexity of the brain that matters in the search for
answers, but the interaction of living organisms with their environment. This
leads to the question: to what extent does social relations of individuals
(human or nonhuman) with their natural and social environment may have
contributed to this development?
Although the current
degree of development in science still does not allow us to answer this
question fully, the evidence presented in this article attempts to open a path
for future research.
we have no complete knowledge of the place and time of origin of each human
cultural manifestation, new discoveries show an increasingly earlier birth and
point to a potential African origin. The development of new research and
interpretation techniques should put a special emphasis on the investigation of
research demonstrates that Homo sapiens emerged in Africa 100,000 years ago
(overlapping and replacing Neanderthals). After 50,000 BCE, African migrants
walked or sailed to every continent of the world” Chiavola (13).
the abstract of a recent paper Poznik et al (14) reads the following: “We
identify ancient phylogenetic structure within African halo groups and resolve
a long-standing ambiguity deep within the tree. Applying equivalent
methodologies to the Y chromosome and the mitochondrial genome, we estimate the
time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA)
of the Y chromosome to be 120 to 156 thousand years and the mitochondrial
genome TMRCA to be
99 to 148 thousand years. Our findings suggest that, contrary to previous
claims, male lineages do not coalesce significantly more recently than female lineages”.
The study found “Adam” humankind’s male ancestor, is older than genetic “Eve”.
According to Kishore, at Sanz p.6 (15) Africa “contains a record of our ancestors over the past
6-8 millions years”.
Since then, brain matter
in humans has significantly increased, as shown in figure 1.
Figure 1. Human
brain development from present to 10 Mybp.
About this, Sanz (15) states that “Africa has the biggest archaeological
sequence on the planet, thereby constituting the whole continent with
Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). For every human being, Africa signifies a
journey back through our own history and reconstruction of the itinerary. Our
fossil heritage is the most common heritage of all humankind, and these pages
invoke a spirit of reconnection. The earliest evidence of social behavior, of
the origins of our coexistence habits, of language and symbolic thought are all
there…” (p. 229)
What follows is a brief summary, not exhaustive, of some discoveries made
in different latitudes. We are aware that the earliest dates of each event are still
partial, and they may in the future tend to recede into the past, probably
finding their origin deeper in Africa, to the hominids (>100 ky) and humans
(<100 ky), which will be treated here as part of the same lineage.
Bednarik 2003 (16) describes several manifestations
of Palaeoart such as the Tan-Tan Venus, Morocco -500,000 to 300,000 BP-,a modified manuport from a Middle Acheulian
layer, the Female figurine, Berekhat Ram, Israel-470 000 to 230 000 BP- and others.
The author makes a new review of Palaeoart (2006 - 17) and also analyses the origins of symbolism (2008 a -18).
(16) discusses the probable origin Palaeoart in relation to the development of
the human brain “Encephalization: The main conclusion of the previous lecture that the defining
process in the evolution of primates and particularly humans is the dramatic
expansion of the brain. This immediately raises the issue of the
neurophysiology underpinning this remarkable encephalization that appears to be
the defining factor in becoming human (…). A number of developments occurred
perhaps a million years ago or soon after, which implies that symbolic systems
began to have a significant impact on the lives of hominids. They led to
profound cognitive and social changes permitting colonization across sea
barriers, and to other forms of domesticating natural systems (…). Most
certainly, by that time, around 900,000 or 800,000 years ago, language-like
communication was used effectively. A few hundred thousand years later,
symbolic objects began to be modified. Proto-figurines and engraved plaques
appear, as well as beads and pendants (…)” while Bednarik 2008 b (19)
deepens in the neurophysiological
basis of palaeoart.
More recently, Bednarik 2013 (20)
realize a comprehensive review of all currently
known Pleistocene rock art of Africa.
Tools and Symbolic Artefacts
specialized bone tools and engraved red ochre, dated 70,000 years ago were
found in South Africa's Blombos Cave, Henshilwood et al 2001 (21), suggesting
"modern" behaviours.“Taken together with recent finds from Klasies
River, Katanda and other African Middle Stone Age sites the Blombos Cave
evidence for formal bone working, deliberate engraving on ochre, production of
finely made bifacial points and sophisticated subsistence strategies is turning
the tide in favor of models positing behavioral modernity in Africa at a time
far earlier than previously accepted”.
Also at Blombos Cave, Henshilwood et al
(22) find a processing workshop where a liquefied ochre-rich mixture was
produced and stored in two Haliotis
midae (abalone) shells 100,000 years ago.
On the same path, Henshilwood (23) analyses early manifestations
of human industry in southern Africa ”two remarkable techno-traditions in the prehistory
of southern Africa, the c. 75–71 ka Still Bay and the c. 65–59 ka
Howiesons Poort. Technologies such as heat treatment of lithic materials,
pressure flaking of stone points, manufacture of complex armatures including
the bow and arrow, and the production of symbolic artefacts including shell
beads and engraved ochre, bone and ostrich eggshell”.
the phenomenon of pareidolia, we presented at the IFRAO Congress (Ariege 2010)
the following figure showing the relation between the increase in the size of
the brain and the archaeological finds belonging to this stages, summarizing
the oldest traces of paleoart known to date. This list will most likely be
modified and expanded in the coming years.
Figure 2. Above:
Increased brain size, below: mimetoliths on a timeline, from 3 My to present.
objects appearing in the figure are: (1) Makapansgat, 3 Million years BP. (2)
GROß Pampau, 500,000 BP. (3) India Bhimbetka 500.000 to 200.000 BP. (4) Venus
Tan-Tan, Morocco, 500,000 to 300,000 BP. (5) Berekhat Ram, Female figurine,
Israel. 470 000 to 230 000 BP. (6) Erfoud, Morocco, 200 000 to 300 000 BP. (7)
Hamburg-Wittenbergen c. 200,000 BP. Head. (8) Katonga River basin, Paleolithic
pieces are early evidence of pareidolia. Natural objects shaped like people or
animals could be modified to increase the "likeness", giving origin
to the first manifestations of Paleoart.
to Winkelman (24), in Upper Paleolithic time (50,000 and 10,000 years b.p.)
“Neurological approaches provide an important bridge between scientific and
religious perspectives. This approach have, however, generally neglected the
implications of a primordial form of spiritual healing-shamanism… … The
Shamanic paradigm involves basic brain process, neurognostic structures, and
innate brain modules. This approach revels that universals of shamanism such as
animism, totemism, soul flight, animals spirits, and death-and-rebirth experiences
reflect fundamental brain operations and structures of consciousness” (pag.
Jean Clottes and
Lewis-Williams (25) and Robert Ryan (26) agree that neurologically based
shamanic practices were central to this cave art. Clottes and Lewis-Williams’s
approach, based on neuro-psycology and ethnology, provides a basis for
inferring Upper Paleolithic religious experiences and their social and mental
particularly in Europe, suggest an explosive proliferation of such behavior some
45,000 years ago.
In South Africa's
Blombos Cave, Henshilwood et al (27) found Twenty-eight specialized bone tools
and engraved red ochre, dating back 70,000 years, suggesting "modern" behaviors.
another site researchers
made controversial discoveries. Inside the Rihno cave, Tsodilo Hills, Botswana, dated 70,000 years ago, they found a large rock that resembles a giant python,
with natural features in the stone forming an eye and a mouth; we can describe
it as a mimetolith.
The 6 by
2 meter stone was also scarred by several hundred human-made grooves that may
have been meant to resemble reptile scales.
than a hundred brightly coloured projectile points appear to have been brought
to the cave incomplete to be finished here. Some points were intentionally
broken or burned, possibly as part of a ritual; they may have potentially been
brought here from hundreds of kilometers away and intentionally burned at this
Coulson et al (28) “it is now possible to expand
the list of possible traits that provide evidence for ritualized behavioral
patterns into the late Pleistocene MSA. This has significant consequences both
for the antiquity of human ritual and for the origin of complex cultural behaviors
in Africa” (pág. 50).
The elongated rock, carved to enhance
its resemblance to a snake, offers evidence of ritualistic or religious behavior
70,000 years ago in Africa, the earliest evidence (until now) of ritual performance,
in what could be an early form of religion.
The presence in the cavern of a large
rock, naturally shaped like a snake, allows us to associate the surge of this
ritualistic behavior with the PAH triad:
Pareidolia would have permitted the ancient occupants of the site to associate
the rock with the likeness of a snake. The act of ‘completing’ the figure by
adding the scales may situate the origins of ‘art’ some 70.000 years ago, as it
seeks to represent nature by enhancing the original features of the rock.
Apophenia would have led the to relate this ‘snake’ to a living entity, worthy
of their prayers and offerings.
Hierophany would have played a role in the sacralisation of not only the rock,
but also the cavern, turning it into a liminal space, a middle ground between
the profane and sacred worlds.
In the past religion, mythology, and astrology were part of the same idea, as early
cultures identified celestial objects with gods and spirits Krupp (29).According
to animism, both celestial and terrestrial objects had aspirit. The cult to the
figure of the serpent was well spread in ancient Africa, and among others, it
was associated with the Milky Way. “This creature is visible in the milky way
as a dark shadow…” Hambly, (30) “Some of the paired symbols, like the
rainbow and the milky way, or the sea serpent and the rainbow serpent, clearly
articulated the intimate bond between the realm of initiation on the one hand,
and mythical time and space on the other”. Dederen, (31)
Dark spots in
the sky still inspire visions of snakes among modern astronomers, as it is
observed in the image of the“¿¡Snake on a
Galactic Plane!” Nasa (32)
Astronomy and Navigation
All life on Earth, are subject to cycles related to astronomical events
"From the origins of life all organisms undergo a cosmic rhythm immutable
of periodicity, the Cosmo-climatic rhythm, that has come to permeate the central
nervous system of all animal species. Sidereal cycle is dominating the life on
Earth and is formed by the conjunction of the solar rhythm (365 days), the
lunar rhythm (30 days) and the terrestrial rate (24 h). The latter is the
engine of circadian or nictemeral rhythms and is the most important because it
creates the day and night, the presence or absence of light, hours of activity
and rest (sleep / wake) and ortostatism time-11 " Martínez-Carpio y Corominas (33).
Since the emergence of hominids, they were forced to
move across vast areas and later find a way home. Therefore, navigation using
landscape elements or stars as reference could be one of the primary
manifestations of human cultural activities. In the beginning, it was land
navigation, but then would have been applied to ocean navigation, requiring
accurate knowledge of astronomy, as Polynesian navigation displays Bustamante (34).
As read in Bednarik (35) “seafating may have
begun in Indonesia about a million years ago, leading to the hominid settlement
of several islands during the late part of the Early Pleistocene” (abstract). Fullagar (36) also presented evidence for human occupation in
northwestern Australia prior to 116,000+1~,000 years, with artistic activity
inferred from ochre dating between 75,000 and 116,000 years, ground mudstone
slightly later, and rock-engraving dating earlier than 58,000 years” p.771
If these authors stand correct, human
beings have been able to navigate the oceans since very early stages. Current difficulties in dating these
occurrences are presented in Owen (37).
Bustamante Moyano (38), we proposed that “the Landscape
we see is constituted by 50%
land and 50% sky, therefore, both parts must be considered and studied in relation
to the site... ...In trying to define a
generic type of astronomical instruments and data recording methods our
ancestors might have used, we come to the realization that Land and Sky are two
parts of a 1:1 scale astronomical instrument (the largest and most accurate
ever developed)... ... In trying to
define a generic type of astronomical instruments and data recording methods
our ancestors might have used, we come to the realization that Land and Sky are two
parts of a scale 1:1 astronomical instrument (the largest and most accurate
ever developed). Bustamante Moyano
(39) Thus, we have come to define Pre-Columbian Astronomical Instruments as elements or set of elements intentionally arranged in the territory,
aligned to one another or to natural topographic features, allowing accurate
observations of the rise or set of stellar objects, its variations during the
year and its apparent displacement. These instruments are composed by: Fix
parts: centre, horizon, topographic features and markers (rocks, piers,
buildings, gnomon). Movable parts: Stellar objects showing apparent and
predictable cyclical movements, sun, moon, planets, stars and Milky Way,
working as a Vernier scale or micrometer. Variable parts: cyclical
phenomena that could be explained as a result of changes in the movable parts:
day and night, seasons, biological variability and atmospheric weather”. p. 21.
Figure 3. Land (50%) and sky (50%) as an
This instrument has always been
available to humans, only
needing a watchful and clever observer to use it. For at least 100,000 years,
homo sapiens has had the intelligence to do so. The evidence presented as
follows, tend to show that this instrument has been in use since the beginnings
of humankind. Bustamante and Moyano (38).
Origins of Science
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘scientific
method’ as: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge
involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data
through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of
Astronomical observation is likely to
be the first scientific activity practiced by humans towards the development of
spatial navigation and calendar systems. This would have required empiric
observation of cyclic phenomena, its measuring and the capacity to predict
future events. As a result, they would have obtained a calendar, that is, a
Any intelligent human being can use of
this natural full-scaled astronomical
instrument (Landscape: 50% land and 50% sky). Bustamante, Moyano
and Bustamante (40).
Figure 4 summarizes a timeline of
several milestones in the development of human culture. This will most
certainly in the future, as new discoveries appear.
of milestones in the development of human culture.
2.2 Similar Activities Among Living
Human Culture and science have achieved
enormous progress in 100.00 years. Everything we have learned and developed is
registered in books and other data storage media. Nevertheless, when a
scientist seeks to learn something new, what we already know only serves as
background, and in order to achieve a new point of view and development, they
must return to the source, that is, nature, as many generations before us did.
Evidence shows that human beings have
benefited from pre-human capacities, turning them into what can be perceived as
part of human culture.
Communication It may seem as if humans invented codes to converse
among individuals (language) and long distance communication. But chemical,
acoustic, electromagnetic and visual communications are inherent to life, among
individuals belonging to the same species. Schaerfer and Ruxton 2011(41) examine
the most diverse aspects of communication, from its genetic bases. “1.1 Communication: Communication is a
ubiquitous characteristic of life. It occurs on every organizational level,
from communication of cell organelles within cells to communication between
organisms of the same or of different species. The ubiquity of communication
demonstrates its key role in the organization of life”. But also among
individual from different species “1.3 Plant – animal communication: The diversity of plant
colours and odours probably fascinated humans long before the history of
writing and long before the start of modern science. It seems intuitively
convincing that immobile plants can increase their fitness by attracting (and
thereby communicating with) the animals thy depend on for dispersal of pollen
and seeds. Pollinators and seed dispersers in turn can forage more effectively
– i. e., find nutritional flowers and fruits more quickly- if plant
colours and odours are matched to their sensory abilities”.
Intercell Communication According to Fels (42),“Information
transfer is a fundamental of life… …cells (ciliate Paramecium caudatum) can have an
influence on other cells even when separated with a glass barrier, thereby
disabling molecule diffusion through the cell-containing medium”.
Midwives amoebae primitive communication –cooperation Organisms
deemed as very ‘primitive’, brainless even, carry out actions that could easily
be described as surprisingly human. Biron et al (43) describe: “Asexual cells are normally able
to reproduce entirely by themselves. But we have discovered that in about
one-third of the dividing cells of Entamoeba invadens contraction of the
cleavage furrow1 may stop before separation is complete. We show here that the
connected daughter cells overcome this problem by calling upon a neighbouring
amoeba to help them achieve the final stage of division. The 'midwife' cell is
chemotactically recruited for this mechanical intervention in what is a
surprising example of primitive cooperation”
Figure 5. Amoebae Midwives.
This action appears to implicate
individual consciousness, recognition of others, communication, experience,
empathy, decision-making capacity and cooperation among brainless organisms.
In Bustamante (44)
related to the origin of sacralization of certain features of the landscape, we
have said that “The apparently sacred
character of some archaeological places could be explained in part,
with: a) The psychological phenomenon known as Hierophany, generally associated
to the religious experiences. b) The psychological phenomenon -
perceptive, not necessarily pathological, called Pareidolia. It utilized
for example in the psychological exploration (test of Rorschach)… …Interpretation
necessarily has to attend the Entorno and consider the psychological
influences that this has in the present observer and could have in the ancient
observer… …The Entorno-human psychology relation, would be able to
contribute trails to endow the sense to these works and its relations”.
In Bustamante (45), we stated that Pareidolia is likely to
be present in primates, but also in use by computer systems such as facial
Primates, Humans y Computers: Recognising Faces
In the article A Cortical Region Consisting Entirely of
Face-Selective Cells, Tsao et al, from experiments with primates
and using a magnetic resonance scanner, the authors demonstrate that the
stimulus caused by the faces activates certain groups of cells in three regions
of the temporal lobe, and that these cells are also activated by objects that
remotely resemble faces.
Abstract, they write: Face perception is a skill crucial to
primates…. …Almost all (97%) of the visually responsive neurons in this region
were strongly face selective, indicating that a dedicated cortical area exists
to support face processing in the macaque.” Tsao et al (46).
Later, one of their conclusions is “Why
is it important that the brain contains an area consisting entirely of
face-selective cells? First, this indicates that the brain uses a specialized
region to process faces”…
Pareidolia seems to be a capacity
inherent to all living beings, as it allows them the recognition of specific
features in order to distinguish them in their environment. Pareidolia is not
only visual, as it can extend to other senses, Bustamante (47) / PAH
Beyond visual shapes, and is part of the communication inter
and intra species.
evidence shows that bees are able to identify human faces. According to Avarguès-Weber
et al (48) “honeybees can distinguish
face-like configurations… …bees succeeded in discriminating both face-like and
non-face-like stimuli and categorized appropriately novel stimuli in these two
classes... …Bees looked for a specific configuration in which each feature had
to be located in an appropriate spatial relationship with respect to the
others, thus showing sensitivity for first-order relationships between
features. Although faces are biologically irrelevant stimuli for bees, the fact
that they were able to integrate visual features into complex representations
suggests that face-like stimulus categorization can occur even in the absence
of brain regions specialized in face processing”(abstract).
article published first in summary Bustamante (49), and then complete Bustamante
(50), we suggest that “Mimesis, by the psychological phenomena of Pareidolia, Apophenia and
Hierophany (The PAH triad), might explain the many instances when humans
between Pleistocene and early chinese culture attributed religious significance
or extraordinary connections to ordinary imagery and subjects. On the other
hand, Mimetoliths and Mimetomorphs might contribute to explain the origins of
Palaeoart, animism and religion”. On the article we reintroduce the affirmations
of Tsao et al (2006). In our view,his conclusions
indicate that our primate ancestors were in condition of recognize mimetoliths.
on these articles, we attest that pareidolia seems to be a
phenomenon inherent to living beings, because everyone needs to have a clear image of
their environment, including the creatures and objects contained in it.
Figure 6. Animals and pareidolia
We later added that “Pareidolia does
not depend on the size of the brain. Hallow to explain a) perceptual errors (false recognition), b) the mimicking
(To resemble closely; simulate), c) The camouflage (concealment by some means
that alters or obscures the appearance)”.
Emblematic Case of Bees
to Danforth et al (51), bees, the largest (>16,000 species) and most
important radiation of pollinating insects, originated in early to
mid-Cretaceous, roughly in synchrony with the angiosperms (flowering plants).
Poinar and Danforth (52) describe “a
bee fossil [Melittosphex burmensis (new species), Melittosphecidae (new
family)] from Early Cretaceous Burmese amber (~100 million years before the
Four years later,
Danforth Bryan and George Poinar Jr. (53), say “This specimen remains the
earliest body-fossil evidence that pollen-collecting Apoidea (bees) were
present approximately 20 million years after the origin of the eudicots (∼120 Ma), the
major angiosperm lineage with extensive reliance on bee pollination”.
the brain capacity of bees, Giurfa (54) says the brain of a honeybee in a 1 mm3 contains only 960 000 neurons, however bees exhibit learning abilities
that have been traditionally ascribed to arestricted portion of vertebrates
Duncan (55) states, “Although some social bees show the most complex behaviour of
any invertebrate animals”… p. 19. Related to navigation, he describes “many
insects, including honeybees, have the ability to go in a straight line by
keeping the sun in a particular direction as they move. This is called sun
compass movement. Having a time sense, bees can use the sun for orientation
throughout the day even thought it seems to move across the sky”. P.149
“In Apis, communications concerning the
distance and direction to food sources is in part means of the famous dances
first elucidated by Karl von Frisch (1976a)”… … “The mechanism serves not only
to alert or recruit potential foragers and get these new foragers to food
supplies that have been discovered by other members of colony, but also serves
to get them there in approximately the right numbers to exploit those supplies
(Nuñez, 1971)”. p. 159
al (56) describes navigation using polarized-light cues,
while Hsu and Li (57) referenced Magnetoreception in Honeybees, and later, Menzel et al (58) described Honeybees
navigation according to a map-like spatial memory
Su et al (59) reported effective symbolic communication between two honeybee
the establishment of a mixed-species honeybee colony, that saw individuals of
Asiatic bee Apis cerana cerana (Acc) and European bee Apis mellifera
ligustica (Aml) cohabiting. “Acc foragers could decode the dances of Aml to successfully locate an indicated food source... (Abstract). This points to
possible social learning between the two honeybee species, and the existence of
a learning component in the honeybee dance language.
(60) elaborates “honeybees can learn to use non-elemental processing, including
configural mechanisms and rule learning, and can access top-down information to
enhance learning of sophisticated, novel visual tasks. Honeybees can learn
delayed-matching-to-sample tasks and the rules governing this decision making, and
even transfer learned rules between different sensory modalities. Finally, bees
can learn complex categorization tasks and display numerical processing
abilities for numbers up to and including four. Taken together, this evidence
suggests that bees do have a capacity for sophisticated visual behaviors that
fit a definition for cognition, and thus
simple elemental models of bee vision need to take account of how a variety of
factors may influence the type of results one may gain from animal behavior experiments”
(summary) (black letters are ours).
In terms of the effectiveness of the
communication methods used by bees, Giurfa et al (61) noted that “honeybees can
interpolate visual information, exhibit associative recall, categorize visual
information and learn contextual information... …Can form 'sameness' and
'difference' concepts. They learn to solve 'delayed matching-to-sample' tasks,
in which they are required to respond to a matching stimulus, and 'delayed
non-matching-to-sample' tasks, in which they are required to respond to a
different stimulus; they can also transfer the learned rules to new stimuli of
the same or a different sensory modality. Thus, not only can bees learn
specific objects and their physical parameters, but they can also master
abstract inter-relationships, such as sameness and difference” (Abstract).
papers sampled show that, despite bees having a small body and a miniscule
brain, they are a great example of observed social behavior and highly complex relations with their social and natural environment.
Further more, Dyer et
al (62) say bees recognize human faces, by means of species-specific neural
processing, “bees discriminated the target face from a similar distractor with
greater than 80% accuracy. When novel distractors were used, bees also
demonstrated a high level of choices for the target face, indicating ability
for face recognition (Abstract).
In the case of
macaques, it has been observed the ability to identify human faces, that is,
recognize specific forms with the psychological phenomenon known as pareidolia.
This led us to conclude in Bustamante (63) that our primate ancestors, based on
their cerebral development, might have also been able to recognize faces and
recognize shapes resembling them in rocks and other natural objects, as seen in
that bees may also have the ability to experience pareidolia, showing signs of
both recognition and false recognition of familiar images. So the phenomenon of
pareidolia, which is generally attributed only to animals with a complex brain,
seems to arise at least 100 million years ago, and also be present in animals
with small brains.
Figure 7 shows a
timeline that summarizes the milestones we have found so far associated with
the phenomenon of pareidolia.
Figure 7. Milestones
associated to Pareidolia.
DNA and the recording of life
It is possible that, in order to answer
the questions of ‘why animals and humans show similar behavior when presented
with stimuli from their environments’, we might have to look right into the
frontier that separates living beings from inert matter.
“DNA, abbreviation of deoxyribonucleic acid, is an organic chemical of
complex molecular structure that is found in all prokaryotic and eukaryotic
cells and in many viruses. DNA codes genetic information for the transmission
of inherited traits”. (64)
DNA encodes the genetic instructions necessary
for the development and functioning of many viruses and all known living
organisms. Along with RNA and proteins, DNA is one of the three major
macromolecules essential for all known forms of life. According Menzel (65) “We
carry our ancestors' genes within us; they define the surroundings in which
body and spirit develop” P. 454.
Navigation in nature
Navigation appears to be a fundamental
activity in the life of animals, regardless of their size and development.
While on the move, they all need to somehow plan and record the routes they
follow and the references used, for both space and time, are the same humans
recognise: astronomy and magnetism.
On this matter, Wehner (66) examined
the theories and mechanisms relative to animal navigation. A good example of
this is that, during seasonal migrations, Humpback
whales, span distances greater than 6500 km of open ocean, often with a
precision better than 1° using magnetic and solar orientation and other unknown
migratory mechanisms, Horton et al (67).
a smaller scale, the Melophorus Bagoti Ants use the panoramic skyline as a
visual cue during navigation deriving information from a broad range of
azimuthal directions rather than a small set of the most prominent features
graham and Ken (68).
Examples also can be seen in birds. Flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca),
and blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) use
a time-independent star compass based on learned geometrical star
configurations to pinpoint the rotational point of the starry sky (north)”
Mouritsen and Larsen (69), while neuronal responses in the pigeon’s
brainstem show how single cells encode magnetic field direction, intensity, and
polarity; “qualities that are necessary to derive an internal model
representing directional heading and geosurface location. The findings
demonstrate that there is a neural substrate for a vertebrate magnetic sense”. Wu and Dickman (70)
Dung Beetle: Astronomer
et al (71) say, “Ball rolling by dung beetles is considered to be a derived
behavior that evolved under pressure for space, and from competitors at the
dung pat. Straight-line orientation away from the pat using a celestial cue
should be the most successful rolling strategy to move dung to an unknown
burial site”… …”Beetles were found to consistently orientate along a chosen
route, usually in the direction of the sun” (abstract).
Dacke et al (72)
and Dacke et al (73) also explore the doings of this species: “Dung
beetles are known to use celestial compass cues such as the sun, the moon and
the pattern of polarised light formed around these light sources to roll their
balls of dung along straight paths...”
“When the moon is absent from the night
sky, stars remain as celestial visual cues. Nonetheless, only birds, seals, and
humans are known to use stars for orientation. African ball-rolling dung
beetles exploit the sun, the moon, and the celestial polarization pattern to
move along straight paths, away from the intense competition at the dung pile”…
…“Here, we show that dung beetles transport their dung balls
along straight paths under a starlit sky but lose this ability under overcast
Until a few years ago
no one would have suspected that a small beetle with -for us at least- a rather
unpleasant occupation, could be an expert navigator by exclusively using
stellar objects as a reference to get around.
Figure 8. (a) Dung beetle and the Milky Way, (b)
Shows the displacements of a beetle with visible starry sky, (c) Shows trajectories with occluded Starry sky.
Made based on Current Biology,
Dacke et al.
But the Dung beetles not the smallest
navigator. The observed behaviour of an unicellular organisms as the Plasmodium
of Physarum polycephalum (large cell, visible by unaided eye), has shown that when
is inoculated in a maze's peripheral channel and an oat flake (food) in a the
maze's central chamber the plasmodium grows toward target oat flake and
connects the flake with the site of original inoculation with a pronounced
protoplasmic tube. The protoplasmic tube represents a path in the maze. The
plasmodium solves maze in one pass…” Adamatzky (74)
|Figure 9: Experimental
maze-solving with plasmodium. a) Plasmodium. b) Scanned image o
experimental maze, protoplasmic tubes are yellow (light gray). (c) Scheme of
plasmodium propagation, the arrows symbolize velocity vectors of propagating
his work De natura deorum (About the
Nature of Gods), Cicero (75) offers the first etymological meaning of
the word religion «72 … Those who take interest in all the things related to
the cult, retake them and carefully read them, are called ‘religious’ from
rereading». («72 …Qui autem omnia quae ad cultum deorum pertinerent diligenter
retractarent et tamquam relegerent <hi>2 sunt dicti religiosi
ex relegendo» p. 192.)
Scholars are divided as to whether this etymology is correct or whether
religion is connected with ligare, as Cicero himself suggests elsewhere by his
phrases religione obstringere impedire, solvi. p. 192.
Organizations and buildings are
concrete expressions of religiosity, but this arises from the numinous experience
called "abstract religious sentiment", impossible to perceive at
first glance. For example, to seeing a man sitting quietly, with his eyes
closed and shaded by a tree, you might think that it is a weary traveler who
enjoys the shade. But it could also be an ascetic in deep meditation.
Mircea Eliade proposes the term
hierophany as the perception of the sacred, where the impulse or religious
sentiment is characterized by a feeling of smallness compared to the
"natural forces" or the "greatness of creation", or the
inability to cover or explain "reality" based simply on the 5 senses.
The hierophany is an intimate, individual experience that cannot be perceived
by an external observer.
Could It be possible that an ameba, a
bee, or an animal posses a kind of religious sentiment, or a notion of a
connection to something bigger than themselves? How could we know if a
unicellular being, and insect or an animal are experiencing a hierophany? At
the moment, it is impossible to know it, therefore, we cannot deny it either.
Once formulated the question, we can begin developing methods to answer it.
In the case of bees, it is possible
that among the members of the hive the there is a relationship that could be
assimilated to the "idolatry" with the "Queen Bee", as for
example in the case of the cult of Buddha or Christ in the case of religions
based on the sacredness of a "human-originally spiritual leader that was
later deified" or on a smaller scale, the cult of saints among Catholics.
Organized religion, with its respective
cults, temples and churches, is a recent phenomenon in the history of mankind.
Our first steps as primates took place 10 million years ago, but the first
organized worship, yet discovered, dates back 75,000 years at Tsodilo Hills,
South Africa, while the first great temples built to fulfill religious
functions appear around 11,500 BC, being an example Göbekli Tepe, in modern day
Up until some 3,500 years ago, we
observe rather animistic religions, where gods were tangible; the sun, the moon,
landscape features, rocks and other. Monotheism first appears in Egypt, in the
form of the cult of Akhenaten, around 1,300BC. In a short period, humans went
from the pareidolic vision of the serpent in Tsodilo hills (75 ky), to the explicit man-made representation sculpted
in Göbekli Tepe (11.5 ky).
Subjective experiences traditionally
categorized as spiritual or religious may have neurological and evolutionary
bases, as propose by neurotheology. Newberg 2010 (76).
The Writings of Nature
record systems such as graphics (rock art), writing, even magnetic information
storage systems, have their most sophisticated model in DNA, where, for example,
the nucleus of a cell -invisible to the naked eye- of any living being contains
all the information necessary to reproduce accurately the individual from which
Reproductive cloning, known as "somatic cell nuclear transfer"
(SCNT), can to create animals that are genetically identical. “The successful
production of viable progeny following adult somatic cell nuclear transfer
(cloning) provides exciting new opportunities for basic research for
investigating early embryogenesis, for the propagation of valuable or
endangered animals, for the production of genetically engineered animals, and
possibly for developing therapeutically valuable stem cells. Latham Keith (77).
This information can also be
‘read’ backwards. On this regard, Horner and Gorman (78) describe how to de-evolve a chicken into a dinosaur.
researches show that, like a hard drive, DNA stores datathat can later be read, “The
development of new technologies in both DNA synthesis and sequencing make DNA
an increasingly feasible digital storage medium. We developed a strategy to
encode arbitrary digital information in DNA, wrote a 5.27-megabit book using
DNA microchips, and read the book by using next-generation DNA sequencing”. Church et al (79)
Paleoclimatology is currently studying the composition of atmospheric gases
that have been trapped in ice cores for hundreds of thousands of years Halley (80).
As future research techniques become ever more sophisticated, something similar
could be developed and applied in the study of DNA, and maybe uncover clues
that will help us find the source human activities and technologies.
Intelligence in Nature
Merrian- Webster dictionary (81), intelligence is(1): the ability to learn or understand or to deal with
new or trying situations : reason; also: the skilled use of reason (2): the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's
environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)
In (3) The capacity to navigate a maze, Trewavas (82) say
“One of the hallmarks of intelligent behavior in the laboratory is the
capacity of animals to run successfully through mazes and to receive an
eventual reward. But the capacity of plants to grow through an environmental
maze is not commonly assumed to represent intelligent behaviour and attracts
little attention. Individual branches growing through gaps towards sources of
light are an obvious example. Numerous studies on rhizomes suggest that higher
plants must be able to construct a three‐dimensional
perspective of their local space and optimize their growth patterns to exploit
resources, thus receiving rewards for successful behaviour. To any wild plant
the environment represents a continual maze that must be successfully
navigated”… …Both plants and animals use exploratory behaviour to enhance the
chances of survival by optimizing the gathering of food resources, thus
maximizing both the potentials for reproduction and the selfish passage of
genes onto the next generation.
About the possibility that in the past
the humans may have perceived intelligence in animal or plants, Jeremy Narbi (83),
in his book ‘The Cosmic Serpent’, presented the hypothesis that shamans take
their consciousness down to the molecular level and gain access in their
visions to information related to DNA, which they call “animate essences” or
In his second book ‘Intelligence in Nature’, Narby (84)presents evidence that
independent intelligence is not unique to humanity alone. Diverse organisms such
as bacteria, plants, animals and other forms of life, display an uncanny
penchant for self-deterministic decisions, patterns and actions. About the work of Giurfa with bees, Narby comments “Martin Giurfa, the
man behind this experiment, said the more we understand how animals make
decisions and learn, the more we have to admit that they do not act
mechanically. Bees have minds of their own, he said, and they are capable of
“extracting the logical structure of the world”.
Living Beings and Entorno (surrounding)
Varela, Maturana, and Uribe (85) define
living beings (then human beings) as autopoietic,
which means aclosed system capable of creating itself.
Mithen (86) asks “Why ask an
archaeologist about the human mind?”, our answer “We
can only ever understand the present by knowing the past. Archaeology may
therefore not only be able to contribute, it may hold the key to an
understanding of the modern mind.” (p. 10). But of course, archaeology alone cannot
solve the mystery.
from an ancestor of 6 million years, Mithen explained the “architecture” and
evolution of the mind using the
metaphor of a cathedral with multiple stages of development,
starting with a main area and adding on chapels. He described general intelligence
as the nave of a cathedral and specialized intelligences as chapels built
around. The same author declares that the origins of art, religion and science,
are a product of an increasing integration among the specialized modules with
major advances from 60,000 to 30,000 years ago, including manufacture of bone artefacts,
the placing of animal parts into human burials, and the emergence of cave
The figure below generally describes the current trends
regarding the development of the human mind: a) The “Standard Social Sience “ model, b) The Evolutionary Psichology model
Figure 10. (a) According to psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, social
scientists tend to regard
the mind as a content–free, general-purpose
learning mechanism. At birth the mind is a “blank slate” an
d our knowledge of
the world and the manner in which we think is acquired from our culture. In
of the mind, our biology plays a limited role of the mind; our
biology plays a limited role in the nature of
our minds. (b) Evolutionary
psychologists argue that our biological makeup as a major influence over the
way we think. They believe that the mind is constituted by a series of
specialized cognitive processes; each dedicated to a specific type of behaviour-like
the blades of a Swiss army knife. At birth these already
contain a substantial
amount of knowledge about the world.
Consistent with the Archaeology of the
Entorno, in order to understand the origin and development of the activities of
an individual or group of individuals, one must analyze the characteristics of
the study subjects, but also the structure of relationships with their natural
and/or social environment.
In figure 11 we propose a scheme of
relations between an individual (human or not) with its environment (social and
natural). While pareidolia can recognize images (with data from different
senses), Apophenia allows relations to be established between various stimuli
and perceptions, and finally, Hierophany permits setting a global order of
“Totality”, which could be identified as religious sentiment.
Figure 11. Relation established between an
individual and its social and natural environments.
Figure 12. (a) Relation: individual/entorno (surrounding)
individual/cultural and natural entorno (surrounding)
(a) shows the relation of the individual (genetically programmed - DNA) with
its environment: using sensors it recognizes, while the brain (or other body)
processes information and through actuators performs actions. Feedback learning
allows among others. (b) shows the relation of various individuals with their
natural and cultural environment. In this regard, the individual creates his experience
and from it cultivates new relations or actions, and also develops culture.
contains all the learning and strategies used by living things from the
beginning to survive and thrive through cooperation with individuals of the
same and different species, in the changing environment of planet earth. This,
combined with the increased brain capacity and the development of new physical
skills such as walking upright, moving the thumb and others, form a set of
conditions that permit the development of specific practices associated, so far, only
to humans. Thus, simply increasing brainpower or the size of it, does not seem
sufficient to explain cultural development.
In words of Menzel (87) “Rather similar
environmental demands are made of small and big brains. Are different neural
strategies implemented in small and big brains to solve similar problems? I do
not believe so, and in particular, I do not consider small brains to be less
flexible and less quick to adapt”… …”If an animal species has an extended
lifespan (in the case of the bee, the colony's lifespan is the deciding
factor), and the individual animals are exposed to a changing environment,
their nervous system will develop strategies to cope with these changes
effectively, irrespective of the absolute size of its brain. This does not mean
that the neural and cellular mechanisms are the same in small and big brains,
but the mechanisms should be related to each other because of common
phylogenetic histories”… …“For the reader who has never worked with bees, my
opinion about the irrelevance of absolute brain size will sound strange and
unconvincing. I can only recommend studying and watching these wonderful
animals and getting caught up in their impressive behavior”. P. 480.
According to Trewas 2003 (88) “integration of many different
environmental influences to produce a final integrated response is a particular
feature of the intelligent animal”.((1)The use
of statistics to simplify complex individual behaviour).
In the book “Swarm Intelligence” Kennedy
and Eberhart (89) say in the Assertions:
- Mind is social.
- Mind is not an
internal, private thing or process, derive from the interactions
of individuals in a social world.
- Human intelligence results from social interaction.
- Culture and cognition
are inseparable consequences of human sociality.
- Particle swarms are a
useful computational intelligence (soft computing) methodology.
- Particle swarm
optimization is an extension of, and potentially important new incarnation of,
these assertions as a foundation, and based on the evidence presented in this
article, we point out our own assertions applicable to carbon-based organisms
(living beings) and silicon-based entities:
- Mind is “PART NATURAL”
(heritage), PART PRIVATE “individual experience) and PART NATURAL INTERACTION”
and “PART SOCIAL INTERACTION”.
- Mind is not “ONLY” an
internal, private thing or process derives from the interactions of individuals
in a “NATURAL and SOCIAL” world.
- Intelligence results of “HERITAGE”, “INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE”,
“NATURAL INTERACTION” and “SOCIAL INTERACTON”.
- Cognition are
inseparable consequences of “INTERACTION WITH NATURE” and “SOCIAL INTERACTION”.
Carbon-based organisms and silicon-based autonomous entities are
similar but not the same; silicon-based are non-autopoietic
Although there is swarm intelligence,
not all individuals live in swarms. Individuals who live independently interact
with their environment, with others of their species, with individuals of other
species and still develop their own survival strategies.
intelligence, are essentially two categories of the same phenomenon, that is,
In order to fully understand the
origins of human development (language, art, science, religion, etc), we must
look to the past, to the very origins of life.
When we contemplate the past, the most
up-to date technology today seems to be simply imitating the same basic methods
we have inherited from nature; a sort of survival kit.
Human development grounds its bases on
genetics and the heritage we receive from the organisms that inhabited and
habit the planet. Intelligence is not something primordially human.
Evidence shows that for over 100My,
bees have used a very sophisticated method to find food and communicate others
the exact location of it. This method is based on astronomy, and similar
examples can be found among different species, hinting a possible scientific
knowledge being transmitted. The systematic exercise of observation, empirical
practice, repetition, communication of information to their peers, who will go
on to do their own empirical practice, appears to imply that it is an empirical
science, where the hypothesis is replaced by the specific need to achieve a
certain goal. If the goal is achieved, the method is validated, if it fails, it
will try a new one. The astronomic instrument used by humans, is the same used
by all living beings, that is, sky and land.
From the very first forms of life on
the planet, until the latest and most developed, we all still share DNA as the
fundamental component of life, as well as the same physics laws and the same
environment. Imbedded in our genes are all the strategies developed over the
eons in order to live and thrive in our common environment. So the DNA is the
most extensive library of which we have the oldest "Hard Drive" which
stores the record of our life experience.
The evidence shows that our genetic
programming, alongside the development of new motor skills, increased
brainpower, and a progressively complex interaction with our social and natural
environment, have all contributed to the structured development of what we
refer to as "human culture".
In the future, and as research
techniques become more sophisticated, we will be able to delve into the secrets
of DNA, to seek answers about the origin of human activities and technologies
through "DNArcheology", opening a whole new field for research, that
will permit to contrast current paradigms with new findings.
comentarios? escriba a: firstname.lastname@example.org—
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