This is a ‘learning’ document—i.e., my goal in writing it is to learn. The primary sources are Wikipedia, Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers, 1992, Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman, Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany, 1996, Michael J. Balick and Paul Alan Cox; blatant use is marked by “quotes”

Wikipedia receives its share of criticism—of course. But Wikipedia—its quality and veracity—is not the point (our notion of knowing is that there is and can be no final external authority.) Obviously, you must check multiple sources and kinds of sources. Then you think and reflect and perhaps conclude and act. Is there any more that can be done?

Here, no originality is claimed in the biological parts; but the point is irrelevant since there is no pretense to originality in the biological materials in this document and this is not for publication per se—I use the Internet as (1) publication of original materials (Journey in being) and storage of original and other materials. Since the ‘other’ materials may later the basis of some substantial work, I write them with some formality


Classification. 4

Binomial or binary names. 4

Methods of classification. 5

Morphology. 5

Anatomy. 5

Physiology. 5

Biochemistry. 5

Molecular Biology, DNA, RNA…... 5

Genetics. 5

History. 5

Fossil record—proximity (hybrid) 5

Evolutionary theory. 5

Divergent evolution, especially speciation; homology. 5

Convergent evolution; analogy. 5

Non-cellular life. 5

Artificial Life and Simple Replicating Molecules. 5

Viruses. 5

DNA viri 6

I............................................................................... dsDNA viruses. 6

II.............................................................................. ssDNA viruses. 6

RNA viri 6

III............................................................................. dsRNA viruses. 6

IV......................................................................... (+)ssRNA viruses. 6

V.......................................................................... (−)ssRNA viruses. 6

VI......................................................... (ambisense)ssRNA viruses. 7

VII...................................................................... ssRNA-RT viruses. 7

VIII.................................................................... dsDNA-RT viruses. 7

Viroids. 7

Prions. 7

Cellular life. 8

Bacteria. 8

Phylum gram-positive bacteria. 9

Pylum gram-negative bacteria. 9

Archaea. 9

Kingdoms and phyla of the Archaea. 10

Crenarchaeota. 10

Euryarchaeota. 10

Korarchaeota. 10

Nanoarchaeota. 10

Thaumarchaeota. 10

Eukarya. 10

Protista. 10

Fungi 11

Plantae. 11

Archaeplastida—the broadest plant clade. 11

Viridiplantae—green plants. 11

Embryophyta—land plants. 12

Spermatophyta—plants that produce seeds. 12

Pteridophyta—ferns. 12

Bryophyta—mosses. 12

Thallophyta. 12

A special section on hallucinogens and hallucinogenic plants. 13

The classification of psychoactive drugs of Hoffman. 16

Fourteen major hallucinogenic plants. 17

Amanita mascara. 17

The nightshade family. 17

Cannabis. 17

Claviceps. 17

Datura. 17

Tabernanthe iboga. 18

Anadenanthera. 18

Banisteriopsis caapi 18

Brugmansia. 18

Lophophora williamsii 19

Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Conocybe, and Stropharia. 19

Psilocybe. 19

Panaeolus. 20

Conocybe. 20

Stropharia. 20

Echinopsis lageniformis. 21

Ipomoea and Turbina. 22

Ipomoea. 22

Turbina. 22

Virola. 23

Animalia. 23

Subkingdom Parazoa. 24

Subkingdom Eumetazoa. 24

Radiata (unranked) 24

Bilateria (unranked) 24

Deuterostomia. 24

Protostomia. 25



Life / Domain / Kingdom / Phylum / Class / Order / Family / Genus / Species

Some writers state that in botany, the phyla are referred to as divisions

In general reading—and with a little thinking—I have formed the impression that the species concept may be well defined and there is some precision to the distinction between heterotrophs and autotrophs but that there is indefiniteness or vagueness associated with the other distinctions

Binomial or binary names

“The formal system of naming species is called binominal nomenclature (zoology), binary nomenclature (botany), or the binomial classification system

The essence of it is that each species name is in (modern scientific) Latin and has two parts, so that it is popularly known as the Latin name of the species, although this terminology is avoided by biologists and philologists, who prefer the term scientific name

“Instead of using the full seven-category system (kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species—today, though, extended systems are in use) in naming an organism, Karl von Linne chose to use a two-word naming system. He adopted the binominal nomenclature scheme, using only the genus name and the specific name or epithet which together form the species name. For example, humans belong to genus Homo and their specific name is sapiens. Humans as a species are thus classified as Homo sapiens. The first letter of the first name, the genus, is always capitalized, while that of the second is not, even when derived from a proper noun such as the name of a person or place

“Conventionally, all names of genera and lower taxa are always italicised, while family names and higher taxa are printed in plain text

“Species can be divided into a further rank, giving rise to a trinomial name or trinomen for a subspecies

Methods of classification





Molecular Biology, DNA, RNA



Fossil record—proximity (hybrid)

Evolutionary theory

Divergent evolution, especially speciation; homology

Convergent evolution; analogy

Non-cellular life

Artificial Life and Simple Replicating Molecules

Self replicating machines and simple self-replicating molecules are not considered to be life

What does this mean? What does it mean for the concept of life?


“A virus (Latin. Virus or ‘poison’) is a small agent that can replicate only inside the cells of other organisms. Viruses are too small to be seen directly with a light microscope”

“Unlike prions and viroids, viruses consist of two or three parts: all viruses have genes made from either DNA or RNA, long molecules that carry genetic information; all have a protein coat that protects these genes; and some have an envelope of fat that surrounds them when they are outside a cell

“Viroids do not have a protein coat and prions contain no RNA or DNA. Viruses vary from simple helical and icosahedral shapes, to more complex structures

“Most viruses are about one hundred times smaller than a typical bacterium. The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear: some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria. In evolution, viruses are an important means of horizontal gene transfer, which increases genetic diversity

“Acytota or Aphanobionta are occasionally used as the name of a viral kingdom, domain, or empire. The corresponding cellular life name would be Cytota”

DNA viri

“A DNA virus is a virus that has DNA as its genetic material and replicates using a DNA-dependent DNA polymerase. The nucleic acid is usually double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) but may also be single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). DNA viruses belong to either Group I or Group II of the Baltimore classification system for viruses. Single-stranded DNA is usually expanded to double-stranded in infected cells. Although Group VIII (extended Baltimore) viruses such as hepatitis B contain a DNA genome, they are not considered DNA viruses according to the Baltimore classification, but rather reverse transcribing viruses because they replicate through an RNA intermediate

I.             dsDNA viruses

See above

II.          ssDNA viruses

See above

RNA viri

III.       dsRNA viruses

An RNA virus is a virus that has RNA (ribonucleic acid) as its genetic material. Most RNA viruses are single stranded. This section is on double stranded RNA viruses

Double-stranded RNA viruses are a diverse group of viruses that vary widely in host range (humans, animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria), genome segment number (one to twelve), and virion organization (T-number, capsid layers, or turrets). Members of this group include the rotaviruses, known globally as a common cause of gastroenteritis in young children, and bluetongue virus, an economically important pathogen of cattle and sheep

“Viruses with dsRNA genomes are currently grouped into six families: Reoviridae, Birnaviridae, Totiviridae, Partitiviridae, Hypoviridae, and Cystoviridae. Of these six families, the Reoviridae is the largest and most diverse in terms of host range

IV.        (+)ssRNA viruses

RNA viruses can be further classified according to the sense or polarity of their RNA into negative-sense and positive-sense, or ambisense RNA viruses. Positive-sense viral RNA is similar to mRNA and thus can be immediately translated by the host cell. Negative-sense viral RNA is complementary to mRNA and thus must be converted to positive-sense RNA by an RNA polymerase before translation. As such, purified RNA of a positive-sense virus can directly cause infection though it may be less infectious than the whole virus particle. Purified RNA of a negative-sense virus is not infectious by itself as it needs to be transcribed into positive-sense RNA, however each virion can be transcribed to several positive-sense RNAs. Ambisense RNA viruses resemble negative-sense RNA viruses, except they also translate genes from the positive strand

V.            (−)ssRNA viruses

See above

VI.         (ambisense)ssRNA viruses

See above

VII.     ssRNA-RT viruses

A retrovirus is an RNA virus that is replicated in a host cell via the enzyme reverse transcriptase to produce DNA from its RNA genome. The DNA is then incorporated into the host’s genome by an integrase enzyme. The virus thereafter replicates as part of the host cell’s DNA. Retroviruses are enveloped viruses that belong to the viral family Retroviridae

“The virus itself stores its nucleic acid in the form of a +mRNA (including the 5’cap and 3’PolyA inside the virion) genome and serves as a means of delivery of that genome into cells it targets as an obligate parasite, and constitutes the infection. Once in the host’s cell, the RNA strands undergo reverse transcription in the cytosol and are integrated into the host’s genome, at which point the retroviral DNA is referred to as a provirus. It is difficult to detect the virus until it has infected the host

“Simply, the retrovirus enters a host cell and provokes the RNA strands inside of the normally-functioning cell to undergo reverse transcription, which is violating the ‘central dogma of biology.’ Normally, DNA would transcript into RNA, and RNA would translate into proteins. However, when a retrovirus is inside of a cell, the first two steps of that process would be switched. (Rather than DNA --> RNA --> Protein, it would be RNA --> DNA) The host cell would become a provirus as this has occurred

VIII.  dsDNA-RT viruses

Hepadnaviruses are a family of viruses which can cause liver infections in humans and animals. There are two recognized genera:

Genus Orthohepadnavirus; type species: Hepatitis B virus

Genus Avihepadnavirus; type species: Duck hepatitis B virus

“The name of the family comes from: hepa(for HEPAtic)-DNA-virus


“Viroids are plant pathogens that consist of a short stretch (a few hundred nucleobases) of highly complementary, circular, single-stranded RNA without the protein coat that is typical for viruses”


“In general usage, prion refers to a ‘unit of infection’ ”

“A prion is an ‘infectious agent’ that is composed primarily of protein. To date, all such agents that have been discovered propagate by transmitting a mis-folded protein state; as with viruses the protein itself does not self-replicate, rather it induces existing polypeptides in the host organism to take on the rogue form. The mis-folded form of the prion protein has been implicated in a number of diseases in a variety of mammals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as “mad cow disease”) in cattle and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans. All known prion diseases affect the structure of the brain or other neural tissue, and all are currently untreatable and are always fatal”

Cellular life

A recent classification, just below, adds a level above that of kingdom—the domain:

Woese C, Kandler O, Wheelis M (1990). “Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya.” Proc natl acad sci U S A 87 (12): 4576–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.12.4576. PMID 2112744. PMC 54159.


The three domains of this system are Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya


“The bacteria are a large group of unicellular, prokaryote, microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria are ubiquitous in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste, water, and deep in the Earth’s crust, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. There are typically 40 million bacterial cells in a gram of soil and a million bacterial cells in a millilitre of fresh water; in all, there are approximately five nonillion (5×1030) bacteria on Earth, forming much of the world’s biomass. Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction. However, most bacteria have not been characterized, and only about half of the phyla of bacteria have species that can be grown in the laboratory. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a branch of microbiology

“There are approximately ten times as many bacterial cells in the human flora of bacteria as there are human cells in the body, with large numbers of bacteria on the skin and as gut flora. The vast majority of the bacteria in the body are rendered harmless by the protective effects of the immune system, and a few are beneficial. However, a few species of bacteria are pathogenic and cause infectious diseases, including cholera, syphilis, anthrax, leprosy and bubonic plague. The most common fatal bacterial diseases are respiratory infections, with tuberculosis alone killing about 2 million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. In developed countries, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and in agriculture, so antibiotic resistance is becoming common. In industry, bacteria are important in sewage treatment, the production of cheese and yoghurt through fermentation, as well as in biotechnology, and the manufacture of antibiotics and other chemicals.

“Once regarded as plants constituting the class Schizomycetes, bacteria are now classified as prokaryotes. Unlike cells of animals and other eukaryotes, bacterial cells do not contain a nucleus and rarely harbour membrane-bound organelles. Although the term bacteria traditionally included all prokaryotes, the scientific classification changed after the discovery in the 1990s that prokaryotes consist of two very different groups of organisms that evolved independently from an ancient common ancestor. These evolutionary domains are called Bacteria and Archaea”

Phylum gram-positive bacteria

No outer membrane

Pylum gram-negative bacteria

Outer membrane present


The Archaea are a group of single-celled microorganisms. A single individual or species from this domain is called an archaeon (sometimes spelled “archeon”). They have no cell nucleus or any other organelles within their cells. In the past they were viewed as an unusual group of bacteria and named archaebacteria but since the Archaea have an independent evolutionary history and show many differences in their biochemistry from other forms of life, they are now classified as a separate domain in the three-domain system. In this system the three main branches of evolutionary descent are the Archaea, Eukarya and Bacteria. Archaea are further divided into four recognized phyla, but many more phyla may exist. Of these groups the Crenarchaeota and the Euryarchaeota are most intensively studied. Classifying the Archaea is still difficult, since the vast majority have never been studied in the laboratory and have only been detected by analysis of their nucleic acids in samples from the environment. Although archaea have, in the past, been classed with bacteria as prokaryotes (or Kingdom Monera), this classification has been described as outdated, since it fails to distinguish between the three phylogenetically distinct domains of life

“Generally, archaea and bacteria are quite similar in size and shape, although a few archaea have very unusual shapes, such as the flat and square-shaped cells of Haloquadra walsbyi. Despite this visual similarity to bacteria, archaea possess genes and several metabolic pathways that are more closely related to those of eukaryotes: notably the enzymes involved in transcription and translation. Other aspects of archaean biochemistry are unique, such as their reliance on ether lipids in their cell membranes. The archaea exploit a much greater variety of sources of energy than eukaryotes: ranging from familiar organic compounds such as sugars, to using ammonia, metal ions or even hydrogen gas as nutrients. Salt-tolerant archaea (the Halobacteria) use sunlight as a source of energy, and other species of archaea fix carbon; however, unlike plants and cyanobacteria, no species of archaea is known to do both. Archaea reproduce asexually and divide by binary fission, fragmentation, or budding; in contrast to bacteria and eukaryotes, no species of archaea are known that form spores

“Initially, archaea were seen as extremophiles that lived in harsh environments, such as hot springs and salt lakes, but they have since been found in a broad range of habitats, such as soils, oceans, and marshlands. Archaea are particularly numerous in the oceans, and the archaea in plankton may be one of the most abundant groups of organisms on the planet. Archaea are now recognized as a major part of life on Earth and may play an important role in both the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle. No clear examples of archaeal pathogens or parasites are known, but they are often mutualists or commensals. One example are the methanogenic archaea that inhabit the gut of humans and ruminants, where they are present in vast numbers and aid in the digestion of food. Archaea have some importance in technology, with methanogens used to produce biogas and as part of sewage treatment, and enzymes from extremophile archaea that can resist high temperatures and organic solvents are exploited in biotechnology

Kingdoms and phyla of the Archaea


In taxonomy, the Crenarchaeota (Greek for “spring old quality”) (also known as Crenarchaea or eocytes) and phylum or a kingdom of the Archaea. Initially, the Crenarchaeota were thought to be extremophiles (e.g., thermophilic and psychrophilic organisms) but recent studies have identified them as the most abundant archaea in the marine environment


In the taxonomy of microorganisms, the Euryarchaeota (Greek for “broad old quality”) are a phylum of the Archaea.

“The Euryarchaeota include the methanogens, which produce methane and are often found in intestines, the halobacteria, which survive extreme concentrations of salt, and some extremely thermophilic aerobes and anaerobes. They are separated from the other archaeans based mainly on rRNA sequences


“The Korarchaeota are a group of Archaea that have been found only in high temperature hydrothermal environments. Analysis of their 16S rRNA gene sequences suggests that they are a deeply-branching lineage that does not belong to the main archaeal groups, Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. Analysis of the genome of one korarchaeote that was enriched from a mixed culture revealed a number of both Crenarchaeota- and Euryarchaeota-like features and supports the hypothesis of a deep-branching ancestry


In taxonomy, the Nanoarchaeota (Greek, “old dwarf”) are a phylum of the Archaea. This phylum currently has only one representative, Nanoarchaeum equitans


In taxonomy, the Thaumarchaeota are a newly-proposed phylum of the Archaea. It contains two orders: the Nitrosopumilales and the Cenarchaeales. These organisms are mesophilic and may play important roles in biogeochemical cycles, such as the nitrogen cycle



“A diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms without much in common except relatively simple organization (unicellular, or multicellular without specialized tissues.) This simple cellular organization distinguishes the protists from other eukaryotes—fungi, animals and plants

Historically, treated as the kingdom , the Protista are not recognized as a group in modern taxonomy

Simonite T (November 2005). “Protists push animals aside in rule revamp.” Nature 438 (7064): 8–9. (Link)

The Protista are “better regarded as a loose grouping of 30 or 40 disparate phyla with diverse combinations of trophic modes, mechanisms of motility, cell coverings and life cycles”

Harper, David; Benton, Michael (2009). Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record. Wiley-Blackwell. pp.207


A large group of eukaryotes that includes yeasts, molds, and mushrooms

Once classified as plants, they are now seen as closer to animals, and are assigned to a separate kingdom (Fungi)


Introductory note on fungi and algae. The fungi and algae were once classified as plants. Today, the fungi are assigned to a separate kingdom and most algae are no longer considered to be plants. The algae comprise several groups of eukaryotic organisms that produce energy through photosynthesis, each of which arose independently from separate non-photosynthetic ancestors. Algae include the conspicuous seaweeds—multicellular algae that roughly resemble terrestrial plants, but are classified among green, red, and brown algae. Each of these algal groups also includes various microscopic and single-celled organisms

The classification of prokaryotic Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) under algae is considered outdated by modern sources: the blue-green algae are now considered to be closely related to bacteria. Today, ‘algae’ refers exclusively to eukaryotic organisms

Archaeplastidathe broadest plant clade

Also known as Plastida or Primoplantae

As the broadest plant clade, this comprises most of the eukaryotes that eons ago acquired their chloroplasts directly by engulfing cyanobacteria


Green plants, below

Rhodophyta (red algae) and Glaucophyta (simple glaucophyte algae)

Viridiplantae—green plants

Also known as Viridiphyta or Chlorobionta

Encompasses a group of organisms that possess chlorophyll a and b, have plastids that are bound by only two membranes, are capable of storing starch, and have cellulose in their cell walls


Embryophytes or land plants, below

Charophyta (i.e., primitive stoneworts), and Chlorophyta (i.e., green algae such as sea lettuce)

Embryophyta—land plants

Also known as Metaphyta

Spermatophyta—plants that produce seeds

Gymnosperms are a group of seed-bearing plants that includes conifers, cycads, Ginkgo and Gnetales. The term “gymnosperm” comes from the Greek word gymnospermosγυμνόσπερμος, meaning “naked seeds”, after the unenclosed condition of their seeds—called ovules in their unfertilized state. Their naked condition stands in contrast to the seeds or ovules of angiosperms or flowering plants

Cycads, a subtropical and tropical group of plants with a large crown of compound leaves and a stout trunk

Ginkgo, a single living species of tree

Conifers, cone-bearing trees and shrubs

Gnetophytes, woody plants in the genera gnetum, welwitschia, and ephedra, and

Angiosperms, the flowering plants, a large group including many familiar plants in a wide variety of habitats. Angiosperms included

Monocotyledons, whose seeds have two flowering leaves. Monocotyledons account for about a quarter of the flowering plants

Dicotyledons, whose seeds have two flowering leaves

Extinct seed plants. In addition to the taxa listed above, the fossil record contains evidence of many extinct taxa of seed plants. The so-called “seed ferns” (pteridospermae) were one of the earliest successful groups of land plants, and forests dominated by seed ferns were prevalent in the late paleozoic. Glossopteris was the most prominent tree genus in the ancient southern supercontinent of gondwana during the permian period. By the triassic period, seed ferns had declined in ecological importance, and representatives of modern gymnosperm groups were abundant and dominant through the end of the cretaceous, when angiosperms radiated. Another late paleozoic group of probable spermatophytes were the gigantopterids


The term monilophyta is also used. In use, these terms sometimes also include other seedless vascular plants


Formerly, the Bryophyta were regarded as a single division of paraphyletic plants that are now divided:





“An older term covering algae, fungi and lichens. Although these are no longer included in Kingdom Plantae, for common and practical purposes and uses (and because of historical uses of the term ‘plant’) they are often considered to be plants

“What were called Thallophyta are are a polyphyletic group of non-mobile organisms traditionally described as ‘relatively simple plants’ or ‘lower plants’ with undifferentiated thalli or bodies”

“Lichens, often pronounced likens, are composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic association of a fungus (the mycobiont) with a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont or phycobiont), usually either a green alga (commonly Trebouxia) or cyanobacterium

A special section on hallucinogens and hallucinogenic plants

If you are familiar with my thought you will know that I am interested in what I call Experiments in the transformation of being. I have developed a metaphysics that I will describe briefly in relation to a modern view

One default position in the Modern World, especially among the educated of Western Europe but rather less dominant in North America, is that the contents of the Universe are those described in modern natural science—the physical and the biological sciences—and everything else that we experience is a manifestation of those elements. Certainly this default position does not minimize or trivialize higher experience as in, art, music, literature, higher human values which may include the spiritual provided that the realm of the spirit lies wholly within the psyche. And, while the default it says that these values are manifestations of the basic elements it does not assert that the higher should be replaced by the lower—while their ‘object’ status may be the same as the lower, their ‘value’ status is not. And, since explanatory reduction of the entire range, in adequate detail, of the higher in terms of the lower is probably impossible, therefore we cannot eliminate the higher modes of description (except to reject them;) and, even if such explanation were possible, it would be unwieldy and probably provide no illumination. With certain elaborations of the higher modes of description, the default of position is what has been labeled ‘secular humanism’

Probably, most ‘adherents’ of this view hold it without articulating it and without particular attachment. It is implicit in our art, our literature, our institutions, our education, our aspirations, and our everyday behavior. I am therefore, not thinking that the typical ‘adherent’ thinks ‘I am a secular humanist.’ The view is implicit and feels natural. In the past the default position spoke of another world—the world of myth or of religion: a complement to ‘this world.’ The default of today recognizes only this world; it is the result of the crumbling of the imaginative metaphysical pillars of the old views in the face of empirical science

This default position, in its lower level or physical and biological level, has perhaps two varieties—(1) The Universe has in it only what is seen in theoretical and empirical science of today and (2) The Universe may have in it whatever is allowed by the science of today and, by extension, of the future. In (2) it is more or less implicit that the science of the future shall, even if it is quite different from current science in content, be of the same kind: material like elements subject to causal though not necessarily deterministic laws

There is a tendency among scientists to promote the view (1.) It is, in a sense, most practical. Our technology and designs for a better world should of course be based on what we know empirically. The view is also conceptually economical, the result of what is known as ‘Ockham’s razor’, i.e. to make no more hypotheses than are necessary to explain the data. However, this view is not required by science. The essential argument is that of the eighteenth century Scottish philosopher David Hume: a hypothesis that fits what we know empirically does not necessarily follow from the empirical. This is born out by the history of science: what we ‘know’ to be true is replaced in ‘scientific revolutions’ by more comprehensive pictures. At each stage we can see no further because we are then at the edge of our empirical and conceptual picture and seeing beyond would require a more comprehensive picture—the next picture which we do not yet have and may only begin to imagine when empirical data that does not fit the present picture begins to become available

After extended reflection, I have come to the position that what is entailed by science is that the Universe lies somewhere in the region delimited, on a conservative side, by what may be called Cosmos and on a liberal side by Logos. Roughly, Cosmos, in the present conception is the view (1) above. Logos—to appreciate it you are advised to jettison most historical and etymological preconceptions you that may have of Logos—is defined by whatever is Logically consistent with the essential empirical facts of science

Analysis shows that if the Universe is Logos (in this sense) its variety of being is infinitely greater than what is suggested by science (and that although Universe as Logos might appear to violate science and reflective common sense it does not—in fact Logos may be shown to be a justify science and reflective common sense.) I have explained this view in detail in journey in being.html ( World and Being/realization/being-elements/temp2009/Gearing up for the outline/one day/journey in being.html.) However, this document goes further than explaining the point of view and showing its compatibility with our modern world view

The document provides a proof of the identity of the Universe with Logos; and it develops the consequences on a variety of fronts in detail. Readers may refer to the document for details; here it is salient that subject to Logic (1) There is no limit to the variety of being in the Universe, (2) The entire Universe enters a phase of Identity, and (3) Individual identity is equivalent to Universal Identity

The implications are immense. There is an infinite variety of physical laws, each obtaining in an infinite recurrent system of cosmological systems; there are ghost systems passing through ours at the present time with interaction but so small that the effect is unnoticed… or ‘noticed’ but nothing other than what obtains. Occurrences imagined or unimagined that have not occurred on this earth occur in an infinity of these systems (provided that there is nothing Logically amiss with the occurrence.) Your favorite cinema, you favorite novel is somewhere playing out even if they violate all your intuitions except your valid Logical though not physical intuition.) Fact is stranger than fiction. And these are the tip of the actual. Under the paradigm of normal imagination we have not begun to conceive the kinds of being that may be possible with our present powers (modern science is one tip;) and since our powers are presently almost certainly infinitely limited there are infinitely many kinds of being beyond our conception and perception

It is expected that the typical modern reader will doubt what is claimed. The writer himself has been subject to such doubt and labored through doubt throughout the pre-formal intuitive phase and then through the formal phase of the development

However, before doubt the question ‘What does this mean?’ should arise; I cannot truly agree with or disagree with or even doubt an assertion whose meaning I do not know even though I might have some superficial sense of its meaning

A parallel thought for the religiously committed, the agnostic, and the atheist would be that commitment, agnosticism, and a-theism are equally without significance without a notion of god. Here, of course it should be needless to say that the pictures of god from the traditional Western religions are archaic beyond imagination (God the father is not a mere metaphor.) Surely, it is not just science that has spelt the death of God but, equally, it is how we spell God’s name (i.e. our conception of God.) And, although science tends to negate the possibility of God in any conception, it would equally negate the possibility of our being except for the fact of our knowing it. Further, science might negate God only on account of the positivistic interpretation (1) earlier. Certainly, science as properly interpreted gives neither proof nor disproof of some God. The future of religion should, for those interested, be a dual search in conceiving and in possible objects of conception—which is not altogether foreign to the idea of science

The foregoing document explains the meaning, raises and responds to numerous doubts. While the document demonstrates that there is no violation of either Logic or science and that proper interpretation of science allows the ‘Logos’ view, it also finds that doubts remain regarding the immensity of the conclusions and the strength of the proof provided

I have therefore come to the conclusion that I would like to experiment with the truth of what is claimed in my own life; I believe and have argued that it is rational to engage in such experiment (without detriment to immediate concerns;) and I have developed a plan or program of experimentation founded in the Universal metaphysics just described

Since knowing is not realizing, such experiments will remain as desirable even if doubt is eliminated

My present thought is that doubt will not be eliminated; that doubt is inherent in the nature of knowing. The highest of our certainties is perhaps Logic. However, except in relatively trivial cases, e.g. the propositional calculus and the Aristotelian Syllogism, Logical systems, e.g. those required in mathematics, are not transparent. Even though we think such systems to be ‘Logical,’ their naïve forms harbor paradoxes. The elimination of the paradoxes requires ‘fixes’ that are not fundamental—they are perhaps intuitive and they work. In this sense, then, Logic is experimental and subject to doubt (thus the empirical character of Logic claimed is not precisely that of J. S. Mill’s sense in which logical principles are discovered in the way we discover Pluto.) This, however, is not a mere claim; there is a ‘logic’ behind it—it derives from the metaphysics. Logic is, however, even though not Universally certain, perhaps certain in extensive but limited domains; it is marked by a higher order of certainty… perhaps the highest order. Are we disappointed? Should we be? Modern academics, especially those in the hard sciences, and even more so those in logic and mathematics, value their precision. Here, in mathematics, is a place of purity (we think.) Still, there is a counterpoint. In the opening up of certainty, we recognize that there is no external standard to all thought; the developments in the foregoing linked and referred documents develop this thought in precision: there can be no external standard for things and thoughts and rules of thought and rules for or of rules all lie in the Universe in a precisely developed and defined sense. So—no final certainty! What is good about that? First, if true, it is neither good nor bad so far as truth goes. Second, if true, it opens up vistas of adventures in thought just as vistas of adventures in being have also been opened up

One possibility for experiment is in the use of hallucinogenic plant and related synthetic chemicals. I have not decided to engage in such experiment; I regard its importance as minor; but I do not rule its importance and I have not ruled out the possibility of such experiment

I read and found Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany, 1996, Michael J. Balick and Paul Alan Cox and found its discussion of plants and culture immensely illuminating and quite interesting. The book includes discussions of medical uses of plants as well as their use to influence and alter mood and cognition. It includes a persuasive argument that indigenous peoples have genuine knowledge about plants that is useful to our culture (neither indigenous nor modern culture need be minimized.) I have begun to read Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers, 1992, Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman. I have long been an admirer of Richard Evans Schultes

I wonder whether plants and plant chemicals may assist the border between Cosmos and Logos. Therefore, even though this is not my preferred approach I thought that I should study the field for possible later experiment

Even if I come to think that the experience via hallucinogenic material is a proper approach to the desired end, I would have the hesitation that the difference between chemical, hallucinogen, and poison is that of dose. The Schultes and Hoffman book illustrates the point that primitive shaman often struggle with death in their hallucinogenic flight into ‘other worlds’

In reading I found that I know little about ‘descriptive biology’ even though I have read immensely in evolutionary biology. The reader who is interested in evolutionary biology and its foundation might do well to read Ernst Mayr’s Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist, 1988. Readers who follow up on this suggestion will be exposed to what I have found to be the most clear headed as well as comprehensive and grounded thinking on the fact and theory of evolution to which I have been exposed. The reader may be delighted to discover that Mayr was an adventurer and discovered under immensely difficult physical circumstances, described in 1930 “My Dutch New Guinea Expedition,” 1928; Ornithologische Monatsberichte 36:20–26, that a native taxonomy of 146 indigenous bird species agreed, to within a single species, with that of the 147 of modern scientific taxonomy

The following material is sourced in the Schultes and Hoffman book and Wikipedia

The classification of psychoactive drugs of Hoffman

“Basing his classification of psychoactive drugs on the older arrangement of Louis Lewin of 1924, Hoffman divides them into analgesics and euphorics (Opium, Coca,) sedatives and tranquilizers (Reserpine,) hypnotics (Kava-kava,) and hallucinogens or psychomimetics (Peyote, Marihuana etc.) (Schultes and Hoffman)

Now, in précis form, also from Schultes and Hoffman, with supplements from Wikipedia:

Fourteen major hallucinogenic plants

Amanita mascara

This mushroom, commonly known as the Fly Agaric contains the alkaloid muscimole (and ibotenic acid which is converted to muscimole in drying the mushroom)

Used by shamans in North America and Siberia, thought to be the Soma of the Vedas, the effect of muscimole is said to be comparable to lucid dreaming rather than intense hallucination. Psychoactive dose 10-15mg ‘for the normal person,’ similar to zolpidem (Ambien) and other GABAERGIC drugs in their hallucinatory ‘side’ effects

Death due to amanita mascara is a danger even though rare; other members of the Amanita genus are among the most toxic mushrooms

The nightshade family

Henbane, Hyoscyamus niger; Belladonna, Atropa belladonna; and Mandrake, Mandragora officinarum, contain tropane alkaloids, including scopolamine and hysosciamine (atropine is derived from belladonna.) These chemicals have medicinal uses, cause hallucinations, delirium, and death in higher doses. These are the plants associated with European Witchcraft


A genus that includes three species, C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis, indigenous to Central and South Asia; source of cannabinoids

Effect depends on proportion of different cannabinoids with sativa producing a ‘high’ and indica a ‘stoned’ feeling. Appetite stimulant, sensory enhancement, relaxant, reflective, meta-cognitive effects; effects may include anxiety, paranoia, and catatonia

“It is perhaps in the Himalayas of India and the Tibetan Plateau that Cannabis preparations assumed their greatest hallucinogenic importance in religious contexts


Ergot is a group of fungi of genus Claviceps, that produces alkaloids including ergotamine, that cause ergotism—long term poisoning—in humans and other mammals. “Long a medicine in medieval Europe, Ergot frequently caused mass poisonings with attendant hallucinatory attacks—an inadvertent effect of fungal growth on cereals, especially rye

“The purposeful hallucinogenic use of the fungus seems to have been restricted to ancient Greece, where it may have been associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries


Contains the same major alkaloids as the solanaceous plants (nightshade family above) as well as secondary alkaloids

Indigenous to Central and North America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. A long history of medicinal and sacred hallucinatory use in the Old World, enjoyed ceremonial significance in the New word, especially in Mexico and the American Southwest

“Their undoubted danger as potent narcotics has never been challenged even from the earliest times

Tabernanthe iboga

Iboga, a perennial rainforest shrub and hallucinogen, native to western Central Africa. Iboga stimulates the central nervous system in small doses and induces visions in larger doses. In parts of Africa where the plant grows the bark of the root is chewed for various pharmacological or ritualistic purposes. Ibogaine, the active alkaloid, is also used to treat substance abuse disorders. The active alkaloid is also found in voacanga africana


A genus of South American trees in the Legume family, Fabaceae. The genus contains two to four species, including A. colubrina and A. peregrina. These trees respectively are known to the western world primarily as sources of the hallucinogenic snuffs Vilca / Cebil and Yopo / Cohoba

Banisteriopsis caapi

“Also known as Ayahuasca, Caapi or Yage, is a South American jungle vine of the family Malpighiaceae. It is used to prepare Ayahuasca, a decoction that has a long history of entheogenic uses as a medicine and “plant teacher” among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. It contains the beta-carboline harmala alkaloids and MAOIs harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine. The MAOIs in B. caapi allow the primary psychoactive compound, DMT (which is introduced from the other primary ingredient in Ayahausca, the Psychotria viridis plant), to be orally active. The stems contain 0.11-0.83% beta-carbolines, with harmine and tetrahydroharmine as the major components


“A genus of seven species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to subtropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in southeastern Brazil. They are known as Angel’s Trumpets, sharing that name with the closely related genus Datura. Brugmansia are long-lived, woody trees or bushes, with pendulous, not erect, flowers, that have no spines on their fruit. Datura species are herbaceous bushes with erect (not pendulous) flowers, and most have spines on their fruit

Brugmansia arborea. Andes—Ecuador to northern Chile

Brugmansia aurea. Andes—Colombia to Ecuador

Brugmansia insignis. Lower mountain zone of Eastern Peru

Brugmansia sanguinea. Andes—Colombia to Peru and Bolivia

Brugmansia suaveolens. Southeast Brazil west to Bolivia and Peru

Brugmansia versicolor. Ecuador

Brugmansia vulcanicola. Andes—Colombia to Ecuador

“These species are divided into two natural, genetically isolated groups.Brugmansia section Brugmansia includes the species aurea, insignis, sauveolens, and versicolor; and is causually referred to as the warm-growing group. B. section Sphaerocarpium includes the species arborea, sanguinea, and vulcanicola; and is casually referred to as the cold-growing group

Toxixity. “All parts of Brugmansia plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and pets. Contact with the eyes can cause pupil diliation (mydriasis) or unequal pupil size (anisocoria). Some municipalities prohibit the purchase, sale, or cultivation of Brugmansia plants

Uses. “As with Datura, all parts of Brugmansia are highly toxic. The plants are sometimes ingested for recreational or shamanic intoxication as the plant contains the tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine; however because the potency of the toxic compounds in the plant is variable, the degree of intoxication is unpredictable and can be fatal

“Ritualized Brugmansia consumption is an important aspect of the shamanic complexes noted among many Indigenous peoples of western Amazonia, such as the Jivaroan speaking peoples. Likewise, it is a central component in the cosmology and shamanic practices of the Urarina peoples of Loreto, Peru

Lophophora williamsii

Lophophora williamsii, commonly Peyote, (from the Nahuatl word peyotl), is a small, spineless cactus. It is native to southwestern Texas and through central Mexico. It is found primarily in the Chihuahuan desert and in the states of Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosi among scrub, especially where there is limestone

“It is well known for its psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline. It is used world wide as an entheogen, and supplement to various transcendence practices, including meditation, psychonautics, and psychedelic psychotherapy. Peyote has a long history of ritual religious and medicinal use by indigenous Americans. It flowers from March through May, and sometimes as late as September. The flowers are pink, with thigmotactic anthers (like Opuntia)

“The effective dose for mescaline is 200–500mg, equivalent to about 5g of dried peyote. The effects last about 10 to 12 hours. When combined with appropriate set and setting, peyote is reported to trigger states of deep introspection and insight that have been described as being of a metaphysical or spiritual nature. At times, these can be accompanied by rich visual or auditory effects (see synesthesia)

Legality in the United States. Federal law (and many state laws) protects the harvest, possession, consumption and cultivation of peyote as part of “bonafide religious ceremonies” (the federal statute is 42 USC §1996a, “Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament,” exempting only Native American use, while some state laws exempt any general “bonafide religious activity”). American jurisdictions enacted these specific statutory exemptions in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance

Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Conocybe, and Stropharia


Known as Teonanacatl to the Aztecs. “A genus of small mushrooms growing worldwide. This genus is best known for its species with psychedelic or hallucinogenic properties, widely known as “magic mushrooms”, though the majority of species do not contain hallucinogenic compounds. Psilocin and psilocybin are the hallucinogenic compounds responsible for the psychoactive effects of many species in the genus

“The word Psilocybe comes from the Greek words ψιλός + κύβη and literally means “bare headed”, referring to the mushroom’s detatchable pellicle (loose skin over the cap)


“A genus of small, black-spored, saprotrophic agarics. The word Panaeolus is Greek for “all variegated”, alluding to the spotted gills of the mushrooms produced


“A genus of mushrooms consisting of Conocybe tenera and at least 243 other species, with at least 50 species in North America

“Most have a long, thin fragile stem and are delicate, growing in grasslands on dead moss, dead grass, sand dunes, decayed wood, and dung. Conocybe species generally prefer fertile soils in lawns and pastures and are found worldwide. Conocybes are sometimes called dunce caps or cone heads due to their conical or bell-shaped caps. Species of Conocybe which have a well developed partial veil are placed in the subgenus Pholiotina. Similar to Galerina, a Conocybe species can be distinguished microscopically by its cellular cap cuticle which is filamentous (thread-like) in Galerina. It is easy to confuse Conocybe species for Galerina unless the microscopic nature of the cap cuticle is examined. Conocybes have cap cuticles resembling cobblestones. Conocybes can also be mistaken for species of Bolbitius

“Four species of Conocybe that are known to contain psilocin and psilocybin are Conocybe kuehneriana, Conocybe siligineoides, Conocybe cyanopus, and Conocybe smithii. Conocybe siligineoides was used for shamanic purposes by the Mazatecs of Oaxaca.

Conocybe filaris is a common lawn mushroom which contains the same deadly toxins as the death cap

Conocybe comes from the Greek cono meaning cone and cybe meaning head


“This genus (sometimes known by the common name roundheads) is a group of medium to large agarics with a distinct membranous annulus. The scientific name is derived from the Greek ‘στροφος/strophos’ meaning “belt”, in reference to it. Spore print color is generally medium to dark purple-brown, except for a few species that have rusty-brown spores. There is a great deal of variation, however, since this group as presently delimited is polyphyletic. Members of the core clade of Stropharia are characterized by crystalline acanthocytes among the hyphae that make up the rhizoids at the base of the mushroom

“Well-known members of this genus include the edible Stropharia rugosoannulata and the blue-green verdigris agarics (Stropharia aeruginosa and allies)

“Recent molecular work shows the a core group of the genus most closely related to Hypholoma and Pholiota. Other such as S. semiglobata are more distantly related. Section Stropholoma, on the basis of molecular work and its distinct micromorphology was placed in its own genus, Leratiomyces in 2008

Stropharia are not generally regarded as good to eat and there are doubts over the edibility of several species. However S. rugosoannulata is regarded as a good edible and is often cultivated

“The psychedelic mushroom Psilocybe cubensis was formerly known as Stropharia cubensis. It bears a superficial resemblance to Stropharia with its relatively large size, well-developed annulus, and dark spores, however, it is simply a large-size example of the bluing Psilocybe and hence is not a close relative of Stropharia

Echinopsis lageniformis

“Cactus of the four winds”

“(Syn. Trichocereus bridgesii) is a fast-growing columnar cactus from the high deserts of Bolivia. Among the indigenous populations of Bolivia, it is sometimes called achuma or wachuma, although these names are also applied to related species such as Echinopsis pachanoi which are also used for their psychedelic effects.

“The plant is a light green colour and usually has 4 to 8 ribs. It can grow 2–5 m tall with stems of up to 15–20 cm in diameter. Spines can range in colouration from honey-coloured to brown, and are located on the nodes in groups of up to 4. These spines can grow up to 6–7 cm in length and in fully grown plants are spaced evenly on the ribs, 2.5 to 3 cm apart.

“As with related species, it seems to have long shamanic tradition of use throughout its native habitat. Chemical analysis of some variants of this species have shown it may include some of the most potent of the psychedelic Trichocereus species, although this is not conclusive nor does it apply to all strains of the species. Outside of its native habitat, it is one of the least known and used of the Trichocereus cacti for either its psychoactive or ornamental uses. This is not true in areas where it is the dominant species, for example, the La Paz area of Bolivia

“There exist several mutant varieties of this species that are highly prized by ornamental cactus collectors. These include a cristate variety, two variants of monstrose growth, and a more recently developed clone that exhibits both monstrose and cristate growth. These all tend to be much slower growing than the standard form of the species, but owing to their highly unusual shapes, they are sought after by cactus collectors

“The report of a Trichocereus cactus called “The Cactus of the Four Winds”, a cactus with four ribs, which is purportedly extremely entheogenically potent. This has been called into question as the journal entry is from 1941 and is likely based upon subjective and non analytical data including the reports of native informants. It must also be noted that individuals within this species change their rib configurations with some alternating between a 4 to 6 rib configuration. Modern analysis hasn’t yet shown any link between the number of ribs and alkaloid content. The suggestion of a squared (4 ribbed) plant is “more powerful” might be entirely metaphorical and relate to a native cultural value vs alkaloid content

“Chemistry. The plant contains a number of psychoactive alkaloids, in particular the well-studied chemical mescaline, which it may contain at levels higher than those of the San Pedro cactus

Ipomoea and Turbina


 “As with the sacred mushrooms, the use of hallucinogenic Morning Glories, so significant in the life of pre-Hispanic Mesico, hid in the hinterlands until the present century”

The genus Ipomean (from the Greek ips ~ ipos, wormweed or bindweed, and homoeos, resembling, referring to the twining habit) is the largest in the family Convolvulaceae, with over 500 species. Most of these are called morning glories, but this can refer to related genera also. Those formerly separated in Calonyction (Greek καλός, kalos, good and νύκτα, nycta, night) are called moonflowers. The genus occurs throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, and comprises annual and perennial herbaceous plants, lianas, shrubs and small trees; most of the species are twining climbing plants

“…humans use Ipomoea is due to these plants’ content of medically and psychoactive compounds, mainly alkaloids. Some species are renowned for their properties in folk medicine and herbalism; for example Vera Cruz Jalap (I. jalapa) and Tampico Jalap (I. simulans) are used to produce jalap, a cathartic preparation accelerating the passage of stool. Kiribadu Ala (Giant Potato, I. mauritiana) is one of the many ingredients of chyawanprash, the ancient Ayurvedic tonic called “the elixir of life” for its wide-ranging properties

Pyschoactive use. “Other species were and still are used as a potent entheogen (‘creates god within.’) Seeds of Mexican Morning Glory (tlitliltzin, I. tricolor) were thus used by Aztecs and Zapotecs in shamanistic and priestly divination rituals, and at least by the former also as a poison, to give the victim a “horror trip” (see also Aztec entheogenic complex). Beach Moonflower (I. violacea) was also used thus, and the cultivars called Heavenly Blue Morning Glory, touted today for their psychoactive properties, seem to represent an indeterminable assembly of hybrids of these two species


Also known as Ololiúqui

“ recent report indicates that ‘…Today in almost villages in Oaxaca one finds the seeds still serving the natives as an ever present help in time of trouble’”

Turbina corymbosa (Rivea corymbosa), Christmas vine, is a species of morning glory, native throughout Latin America from Mexico in the North to Peru in the South and widely naturalised elsewhere. It is a perennial climbing vine with white flowers, often planted as an ornamental plant. This plant also occurs in Cuba, where it usually blooms from early December to February. Its flowers secrete copious amount of nectar, and the honey the bees make from it is very clear and aromatic. It is considered one of the main honey plants from the island

“Known to natives of Mexico as Ololiúqui (also spelled ololiuhqui or ololiuqui), its seeds, while little known outside of Mexico, were perhaps the most common hallucinogenic drug used by the natives

“In 1941, Richard Evans Schultes first identified ololiuhqui as Turbina corymbosa and the chemical composition was first described on August 18, 1960, in a paper by Dr. Albert Hofmann. The seeds contain ergine (LSA), an ergoline alkaloid similar in structure to LSD. The psychedelic properties of Turbina corymbosa and comparison of the potency of different varieties were studied in the Central Intelligence Agency’s MKULTRA Subproject 22 in 1956

“The Nahuatl word ololiuhqui means “round thing”, and refers to the small, brown, oval seeds of the morning glory, not the plant itself, which is called coaxihuitl, “snake-plant”, in Nahuatl, and hiedra or bejuco in the Spanish language. The seeds, in Spanish, are sometimes called semilla de la Virgen (seeds of the Virgin Mary)

“The seeds are also used by Native shamans in order to gain knowledge in curing practices and ritual, as well as the causes for the illness

“This species is an invasive species to the United States as well as to Australia, where it has become more naturalized


Virola, also known as Epená, is a genus of medium-sized trees native to the South American rainforest and closely related to other Myristicaceae, such as nutmeg. It has glossy, dark green leaves with clusters of tiny yellow flowers and emits a pungent odor

“The dark-red resin of the tree bark contains several hallucinogenic alkaloids, most notably 5-MeO-DMT (Virola calophylla), 5-OH-DMT (bufotenine), and also N,N-DMT, perhaps the most powerful members of the dimethyltryptamine family; it also contains beta-carboline harmala alkaloids, MAOIs that greatly potentiate the effects of DMT. The bark resin is prepared and dried by a variety of methods, often including the addition of ash or lime, presumably as basifying agents, and a powder made from the leaves of the small Justicia bush. Ingestion is similar to that of Yopo, consisting of assisted insufflation, with the snuff being blown through a long tube into the nostrils by an assistant. According to Schultes, the use of Virola in magico-religious rituals is restricted to tribes in the Western Amazon Basin and parts of the Orinoco Basin


Kingdom Animalia or Metazoa is group of mostly multicellular, eukaryotic organisms. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop (some undergo metamorphosis.) later on in their life; most animals are motile; all animals are heterotrophs—they must ingest other organisms for sustenance (autotrophs photosynthesize complex organic compounds from simple inorganic molecules—i.e. they make their food and can fix carbon dioxide)

“Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago

Since the notion of ‘phylum’ is not a clear one there appears to be no unique system of animal phyla

Subkingdom Parazoa

Parazoans differ from their choanoflagellate (unicellular, free living, colonial, flagellate eukaryotes) ancestors in that they are macroscopic and have differentiated cells, but unlike “true animals” (Eumetazoa), they do not have tissues

“The only surviving parazoans are the sponges, which belong to the phylum Porifera—there are currently 5000 species, 150 of which are freshwater; and one surviving species (Trichoplax adhaerens) in the phylum Placozoa

“Parazoa display no body symmetry (are asymmetrical); all other animal groups display some sort of symmetry.. Larvae are planktonic and adults are sessile (not motile)

Subkingdom Eumetazoa

Radiata (unranked)

Radially symmetric and mostly marine. Thought to have differentiated from animals with bilateral symmetry

Bilateria (unranked)

The Bilateria may be divided into a (1) A group of unranked primitive organisms from the simplest multicellular organisms through arrow worms, (2) An unranked grouping—above super-phylum—the Protostomia, and (3) The super-phylum Deuterostomia

The main distinction between the deuterostomes and protostomes is in embryonic development. In both, a zygote first develops into a hollow ball of cells, called a blastula. The embryo develops a dent which deepens. In deuterostomes the dent forms the anus and the gut tunnels through to form another opening which eventually forms the mouth. In protostomes the dent closes in the middle leaving openings that become the mouth and the anus. Of course, the actual events are complex and varied and, no doubt, more will be learned


The deuterostomes include the chordata—the vertebrates and several closely related species

The current consensus regarding the evolutionary relationships of the chordates is that they are monophyletic—i.e., Chordata contains all and only the descendants of a single common ancestor which is itself a chordate

The remaining living phyla of deuterostomes are Phylum Echinodermata (from Greek for ‘spiny skin,’ these include sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, etc;) Phylum Hemichordata (a phylum of worm shaped marine animals that includes acorn worms and possibly graptolites;) Phylum Xenoturbellida (2 primitive species of worm-like animals)

Finally, taken directly from Wikipedia, “Vetulicolia—from the Latin vetuli or ‘old’ and cola or ‘inhabitant’—is an extinct phylum encompassing several Cambrian organisms. Their bodies comprise two parts; their front is voluminous and is tipped with a large “mouth” and a row of five round to oval-shaped features on each side which have been interpreted as gills - or at least openings in the vicinity of the pharynx. Their posterior section comprises seven segments. They lack preserved appendages of any kind. The area where the anterior and posterior parts join is constricted. Their affinity is very uncertain; they have been considered to represent stem- and crown-group arthropods, stem-group vertebrates, and early deuterostomes


The protostomes are seen in the recent literature as being comprised of three super-phyla Ecdysozoa which include insects, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, scorpions, spiders, and roundworms; Platyzoa, recently proposed, which include flatworms and several phyla of microscopic animals; and Lophotrochozoa which include peanut worms, ribbon worms, bryozoa—typically about 0.5 millimeters (0.020 in) long, they sieve food particles out of the water, horseshoe worms, various mollusks including squid and octopus, annelids or ringed worms which include earthworms, and spoon worms