Pleasure seekers all over the world unite and take over the wild life of chimps, with whom you can enjoy a marvelous get together around some decent drops of alcohol. A team of researchers has recently been studying chimpanzees in the Republic of Guinea and they have observed that apes are inclined towards Bacchic habits, enjoying ethanol once in a while.
The study expanded for a period of over 17 years and analyzed chimps that use leaves to drink fermented palm sap. Some of them indulged themselves so heavily in the hedonistic habit that showed obvious signs of “inebriation”.
The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science and revealed that chimpanzees like to drink naturally fermented palm wine, produced by palm trees.
This is an important finding, as it can shed light on the shared evolutionary roots between humans and apes, discovering one more common trait: the ability to metabolize ethanol. Humans are known to have developed taste for ethanol some 10 million years ago, which strengthens the link with their less evolved relatives.
Ethanol consumption is common in all the modern human societies that have access to fermentable raw materials. Translated in fewer words, this means that literally every human being that knows what a grape or some other type of fruit is, can indulge himself in the pleasant tipsiness of alcohol.
Although the observations made by researchers reveal a good chunk of truth, it seems that generally, alcohol consumption among primates is rare and accidental when it happens. Apes don’t usually eat fruit that has fallen on the ground but rather look for the freshly spawned fruits that are attached to branches.
However, with evolution came comfort as well and humans have progressed towards a ground-dwelling lifestyle, considering the fruit on the ground an easier option.
Apes are not the only wild animals who like to sip alcohol once in a while. Scientists recently found that tree shrews also like to drink palm nectar, rich in ethanol. Also, bats are used to consuming alcohol found in ripened fruit. Some more intelligent species go even further with in their chase for pleasure. Monkeys in the Caribbean for instance, steal sips from cocktails offered to tourists.
The study opens new paths for further discoveries, analyzing how the pleasure and satisfaction works in certain species of animals, consequently strengthening the link with human behavior and its first steps towards evolution.
Do chimps actually like the taste in particular, or they like the effects of drinking? A follow-up study is needed in that matter.
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