Caveman memories

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio makes an interesting comment in this interview (also found in the December 2010 issue of Discover magazine.)

We have past memories that we have inherited through a whole history of evolution before us that in fact have memories of things that our forerunners have been doing and I’m not just talking about the human forerunners, but forerunners that go all the way into reptiles and single cells.

Unfortunately, he drops an atom bomb of an idea without providing any further unpacking. I suspect what he’s referring to is situations where certain people have a fear of snakes even though they themselves have never seen a snake. But their primitive ancestors hundreds of generations back might’ve actually seen the damage that poisonous snakes can do and somehow “absorbed” that information into their biological memory (whatever that is.) I’ve also heard the idea that the reason dogs circle around three times before lying down is that their ancient ancestors would practice such behavior to mat down grass before going to sleep on it.

However, that’s really more about remembering behaviors than memories. It seems unlikely that we can remember specific memories of our predecessors.

Wait… it’s coming to me… I’m a caveman, gnawing on a delicious barbecue woolly mammoth rib. The sun is setting and a group of winged dinosaurs are flying across the horizon. Now I’m going inside my cave to rape my mate.

Good times…

3 Responses to “Caveman memories”


  1. John Saleeby

    I have Caveman memories of looking at paintings on the wall of a cave and then painting my own pictures right beneath the first paintings making fun of them.

  2. Wil

    Ha Ha! Thog Zar can’t draw for crap!

  3. John Saleeby

    Legs on buffalo look like Neanderthal dicks!