Weekend Science Record With Mathilde Fondes, Editor-in-ChiefEpsilon, Take us with you On the island of Pharaoh in Colorado, Panama, researchers observed that monkeys ate a lot of ripe fruit.
franceinfo: Did these researchers find that monkeys ate too much ripe fruit and drank alcohol?
Mathilde Fontez: Yes, it confirms an old hypothesis: the “drunk monkey” hypothesis. For us humans the attraction to alcohol comes from far away: fermented fruits, rotten fruits, and so on from our earliest ancestors who began to eat some Percent Ethanol. This hypothesis is confirmed by the first observation of monkeys in their natural environment, in the Panamanian forest.
Hosted by American researchers Study In the territory of the “spider monkeys”, take the fruit that stayed on the ground and cut down on their food. And they discovered alcoholism. They then confirmed the finding by a urine test.
So do monkeys like rotten fruit?
Studies show that they like alcohol but also sugar. They like cocktails. They actually leave out the highly fermented fruit, which contains several percent ethanol. They choose ones that contain only 1 or 2% ethanol, which is even sweeter.
The researchers also showed that these monkeys have better alfactory sensitivity to ethanol: they know how to recognize the smell of alcohol and select their fruits based on that. And there is no doubt that their metabolism has evolved to support alcohol consumption.
So did they evolve to drink?
That’s right. In 2015, genetic studies showed this phenomenon in our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas. It all started 10 million years ago. At that time, the changing climate would have gradually turned some forests into grasslands; The monkeys that came down from the trees would have found the fruit that had fallen to the ground: the damaged fruit, which they had begun to consume as food.
Thus, by natural selection, they would have acquired the ability to break down this toxin – alcohol. To control psychotropic effects, when getting energy from it: Remember that 1 gram of ethanol contains twice as many calories as 1 gram of carbohydrate. That is why today chimpanzees, gorillas and humans are 40 times better at metabolizing alcohol than any other living thing.
Basically, if we can experience an aperitif without falling out of our chair, the monkeys, long ago, started eating rotten fruit.