The First Word
Part One: The Morning Stroll
On a morning, about 200,000 years ago, Eve gestured to Adam that today they should go up to the hill-sided forest with the red-fruited understory treelets. She had been there several times during the last few years and had once noticed that young plantlets were emerging from the ground among the shades of the canopy. Within three years they had developed into slim blooming trees of about twice her size emanating a pleasant smell. From then on, Eve went twice a week to this place and intimately followed the development of the green fruits. After a long while, their color turned yellowish, and later into a shiny red. Yesterday, when she went up again to ‘her’ place she heard even from a distance the yelling of a troop of chimpanzees.
Entering the dome-shaped understory she saw the chimps plucking and eating the red fruits. They competed for those reachable from the ground because there was no way to get the ones in he crown. The slim stem did not provide a firm grip for climbing, but inversely was resistent enough against recurving the treetop by the chimp standing on the ground.
Rarely, two trees were at an ideal distance from each other allowing the chimp to bracchiate upwards to the ‘fruit basket’.
As soon as the gimps noticed Eve, they toddled off. She lingered around the fruit tree place and all of a sudden she discoverd many chimp poops with beige kernels at their surface, but also ‘larded’ inside as she could see it, when she took apart one of the fairly large poops possibly owing to the chief chimpanzee.
Obviously, the monkeys liked only the red fleshy part of the fruits which they swallowed without chewing. Seeing these greedy monkeys, Eve decided to take Adam as soon as possible to this place because she wanted to taste the berries with him. It was not easy to convince him for this one-day trip. Adam suffered from rib pain on his left side since she knew him. It made him some sort of lethargic.
This morning they started early and followed the expansively meandering river by taking a straight route at the flank of the nearby hill and heading to the upper reaches of the invigorating waters. Adam was curious and at the same time scary about what Eva wanted to show him this time. She was full of crazy ideas. Lastly, she demonstrated to him how to catch a snake ‘free-hand’ behind the head and kill it with the bare mouth by breaking the neck with her teeth.
From far they heard the yelling and fighting of the chimps. The sun was already at peak. However, when they reached the place, the chimps had gone, because Adam behaved as always like a clumsy Neanderthal. Eve was some sort of angry, because she wanted him to demonstrate the chimps’ habit of eating these cherries.The last time she was here, she had cleaned the place from serpents, with regard of Adam’s visit who panics in their presence.
Now, she stretched out her left hand to grasp the stem half a meter about her head and bent down the flexible upper part of the tree still fully draped with cherries. With her right hand she assisted Adam in harvesting an ample portion of the most ripe fruits, which he put into a monkey skull pan. Therafter, she let the tree swing back into position.
The fruits had a pleasant flavor and Adam rubbed his belly to show how tasty. After a long back and forth they agreed to chew the cherries well before swallowing, even though Eve initially much adhered to the monkey-way. They emptied the skull within short time.
Suddenly, Adam had a strange feeling, as if someone would gently expand his head to let more light, sound and blood into it. When he looked at Eve he became aware of her beautifully proportioned body. Promptly, his chest pains disappeared and he felt stamineous. Then, Eve looked at him and recognized in his face the disappearance of all neanderthalic clumsiness. They stared at each other for a tense long moment. Suddenly and at once, they expelled from their throat, not without forming their lips, the first human word: WOW!
The attractive sweet pulp (pericarp) contains only about one fifth of the total caffeine of a ripe coffee berry. Four fifths are allocated to the (two) seeds (see Keller et al., 1971). Mammals such as monkeys and civets, but also many birds, swallow the entire fruits. The seed caffeine remains untouched by their digestion. Thus, by consuming 40 two-seeded fruits a chimp gets only about 30 mg caffeine, whereas the seed-chewing Adam and Eve ingested each 150 mg caffeine, a value corresponding to a caffeine dose present in a very strong coffee.
Research on the origin of Arabica coffee, Coffea arabica, indicates that this species – a combination of Coffea canephora with Coffea eugenioides – evolved in East Africa very recently in terms of plant life history, that is between 50,000 and 700,000 years ago. Interestingly, the cradle of Mankind is also the cradle of Mankind’s coffee, and both came into being at the same time. Thus, one could go further and argue, that coffee and caffeine directly contributed to human evolution. It will be a honorable task to present the Pros and Cons of my hypothesis in the tales to follow.
- Keller H, Wanner H, and Baumann TW (1972) Caffeine synthesis in fruits and tissue cultures of Coffea arabica [in German].Planta 108, 339-350.
- Lashermes P, Combes MC, Robert J, Trouslot P, D’Hont A, Anthony F, and Charrier A (1999) Molecular characterisation and origin of the Coffea arabica L. genome. Mol. Gen. Genet. 261, 259–266.
- Yu Q, Guyot R, de Kochko A, Byers A, Navajas-Pérez R, Langston BJ, Dubreuil-Tranchant C, Paterson AH, Poncet V, Nagai C et al. (2011) Micro-collinearity and genome evolution in the vicinity of an ethylene receptor gene of cultivated diploid and allopolyploid coffee species (Coffea). Plant Journal 67, 305–317.
- University of Utah. “The Oldest Homo Sapiens: Fossils Push Human Emergence Back To 195,000 Years Ago.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223122209.htm>.