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Monkey See, Monkey Drink

February 26, 2013

Evolution?

I like science. I like alcohol. So when the two of them come together for a pretty interesting insight, I’m all ears. Which is why I found this brief ScienceNews article so fascinating. The basic premise: the ability to metabolize alcohol, allowing us all to imbibe and delight in modern day spirits, may have stemmed from an evolutionary shift in primate behavior and a concurrent enzyme activity optimization.

Essentially, as primates shifted towards spending the majority of their lives on the ground, fallen, damaged fruit having been exposed to natural yeast and having gone through some fermentation became a typical source for consumption. The evolutionary theory suggests that those primates that developed the ability to metabolize the ethanol present in those damaged fruits, would have had a “leg-up” on survival.

As the article suggests, these studies are only the beginning of understanding the origins of alcoholics alcohol metabolism but either way, I think it’s a pretty cool notion. Plus, I’ve been known to act like a “big dumb animal” when I’ve had a bit too much to drink, so maybe that can be used as another data point. I should probably email the Chemist in charge of this study…

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