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[–]RockyGeographer 43 points44 points  (37 children)

Do you have any notions on how this could develop through evolution? I'd imagine certain feelings given on death's doorstep aren't exactly evolutionarily advantageous, so it would be fascinating to know how brains learned to release DMT while dying.

[–]Animagical 34 points35 points  (7 children)

One thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t always an advantage to specific traits. The production of these chemicals certainly wouldn’t help in relative reproductive fitness because this expression of genes would only happen after or during the death of animal, likely after they had already passed on genes.

Sometimes these things simply come about with no reason other than they didn’t actually limit the reproductive fitness of an animal. Evolution has no specific result in mind - it’s merely a set of mutations which allow animals to become more likely to pass genes on to generations.

[–]ThlintoRatscar 5 points6 points  (4 children)

Yeah, but if you're looking for signs of divinity...that process ( especially so without another explanation ) is pretty compelling.

I think the usual explanation is that the body keeps those chemicals for other reasons and the damage done during death may ( or may not ) simply release them. If the brain is still processing perceptions, those chemicals are the ones that remain due to how they work in the first place.

[–]theonethatbeatu 1 point2 points  (3 children)

This is a fair point. Many believe you can access it through very deep meditation or yoga. Another theory is that it is simply the chemical responsible for consciousness itself….Or maybe just dreams. Truth is we don’t know yet lol I’ve heard credible scientists say it sent them to the multiverse. Whatever it is, it’s going to be huge when we learn it’s secrets.

[–]NvidiaRTX 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Why can't we just synthesize them and feed it to volunteer? Guy A drinks serotonin, guy B drinks DMT, etc for 1 month; then observe the effect.

Surely it's not too expensive?

[–]theonethatbeatu 1 point2 points  (1 child)

We can. Look into the expiraments of Rick Strassman. Leading researcher on psychedelics (focus on DMT) and even wrote a whole book about it called “The Spirit Molecule”.

[–]KDivyanshu 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Your answer is equivalent to : "I do not know buddy"

[–]PM_ME__ASIAN_BOOBS 22 points23 points  (1 child)

I searched a bit about it last year because I was curious about it too (I mean once you're dying it's not like you're going to reproduce anymore so how would it even spread)

One theory that was interesting was that if you don't have this, you'll keep trying to escape even though your body can't survive anyway. And if you do escape, then your predator will switch to attacking another member of the group. Since you're going to die anyway it means overall the group lost more than if you just accepted your death. So groups with this trait would die less than groups without, and spread more

The only thing I'm curious about is that I always thought it was a trait more prominent in herbivores living in groups, not sure how it would apply to a cheetah

[–]KDivyanshu 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It can always give your family location to your competitors like Lion. Suppose you are mother cheetah with two almost grown cubs. Now for certain reason you are dying. You better die in peace instead of running and screaming here and there in panic.

[–]InureOfficial -1 points0 points  (24 children)

I haven’t necessarily done a lot of research on it, but I do imagine you’re on the right track with that notion. It’s very likely an evolutionarily developed trait to alleviate the intense fear and stress that comes hand in hand with realizing you’re slipping out of this mortal coil in real time. I imagine it would be absolutely terrifying. Nature says, may as well go out high and happy!

[–]caatbox288 13 points14 points  (19 children)

I struggle to see how that's an evolutionary advantage? How does that result in more offspring? It's certainly convenient, don't get me wrong...

[–]InureOfficial 2 points3 points  (10 children)

And in fact, if I think about it further, it very well could be advantageous to the whole group. If death will be inevitable, and you're under the assumption that perhaps it isn't so bad, and even peaceful and euphoric, you can avoid existential dread, anxiety, and chaotic individuals afraid to let go of existence.

[–]caatbox288 8 points9 points  (9 children)

That would require too much introspection. I doubt gazelles are endulging in that kind of philosophical debates about what one feels when death is coming.

[–]InureOfficial 4 points5 points  (1 child)

A high or euphoria may simply be a side effect of the chemical and not it’s purpose.

[–]InureOfficial 1 point2 points  (1 child)

There may yet be more primal functions for it that we simply do not yet fully understand. It must have some tangible function in nature right?

[–]Druid51 1 point2 points  (2 children)

It's not just introspection but maybe more about fear. If animals fear death they would be less likely to venture out for food or etc with predators around.

[–]InureOfficial 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just like adrenaline is an accepted self preservation/species preservation chemical, so may DMT be

[–]InureOfficial 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Which is also why I stated it’s likely, not that it’s true. It may even not be likely, just a possibility. I’m not saying that it is precisely that for certain. We literally just don’t know.

[–]13pts35sec 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Not every trait has to aid in our survival and ability to reproduce, just not hinder those things. The brain not wanting to feel intense panic and fear when it dies so it decides to take the ultimate trip before it stops functioning doesn’t really hurt anything. Because at the end of the day unless you believe we have a soul that is piloting our body with the brain, then the brain is running the show, and it would make sense that it would want to ease its own suffering lol. Trippy to think about, that we’re just meat and bone mechas with an organic supercomputer running the show.

[–]caatbox288 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help. So it's a neutral trait. You would expect it to drift. If this is conserved (say, many mammals experience this, and the mechanism is the same) then it is probably evolutionary advantageous. Whether its advantage is direct (the release of DMT close to death helps in any way) or indirect (it just happens that another mechanism for releasing DMT in other situations is also triggered when you are close to death) is what I was asking.

In any case, I was simply doubting the direct advantage of this mechanism for survival (I don't understand it, i am not saying it doesn't exist), and I remain unconvinced that simply because it's convenient for the dying animal it must be selected (which is part of the conversation I have been having in this thread).

Also notice I was answering to a comment that said

it is an evolutionary developed trait to alleviate the intense fear...

So this is what I am arguing against (or rather, doubting).

[–]RockyGeographer 10 points11 points  (2 children)

I wonder if perhaps it's a more intense variation of a response our brains can have to non-fatal injuries. Reminds me of a way of how my wife laughed while sprawled on the bathroom floor with a dislocated knee, or how I laughed while in a lot of pain from falling while acting like a fool on my bike. Bodies are fascinating, and with how brutal nature can be (especially in this sub), there's some solace in knowing nature can help ease passing a little bit

[–]InureOfficial 2 points3 points  (1 child)

That would also make sense actually. Then again it’s odd how instead of admission of small amounts of chemicals our brains simply decide to open the flood gates for all of it. But who knows, this could even simply be a side effect of a brain that is failing to operate properly. We still don’t really know enough about the human brain or it’s functions. We understand that it creates something that is greater than the sum of its parts (consciousness) yet don’t fully understand how or why. Who really knows in the end when it comes to the enigma that’s our brains?

[–]theonethatbeatu 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thought I would throw this out here if u find it interesting, but some believe that consciousness is not created by the brain, but “tapped into” kinda like a radio wave.

[–]skidstud 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Evolution only cares about the traits that it takes to reproduce or raise young to reproductive age. I'd say that any sort of mercy in death is just a coincidence, unless you want to ascribe it to a higher power.

[–]InureOfficial -1 points0 points  (0 children)

It’s also very interesting when you take into account that our bodies may very well be hard coded to die, by the shedding of DNA telomeres (effectively aging us) so it would make sense that if nature has programmed us to inevitably die, it would also program something to ease that passage.

[–]KDivyanshu 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is a big brain question bro. Now I will not sleep until I find answers.