BBC's story "Our ancestors were drinking alcohol before they were human" discusses "It is possible to trace the evolution of boozing back to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees". Sam Gochman '18, Anthro major, is quoted.
Samuel R. Gochman, a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and his team offered aye-ayes a choice of liquid foods made of sugar water and varying concentrations of alcohol (0 to 5%). The two captive aye-ayes could differentiate between the different alcoholic foods. They preferred to drink from the containers with higher alcohol doses of 3 and 5% over those with 1% and zero alcohol.
When the containers holding higher alcohol contents had run out, the aye-ayes continued to compulsively dip and lick their fingers. "This suggests that they really like those concentrations," says Gochman.
But the animals did not show any obvious signs of inebriation, which goes back to their ability to breakdown alcohol because of a super-efficient ADH4 enzyme.
"Natural selection would favour this special ability because it allows these animals to access calories that would normally be toxic to other animals. Those organisms would avoid alcohol because it can impair judgement and is a chemical toxin," says Gochman.
Read the full story here!