Do chimpanzees like alcohol?

Ruth Maria Thomsen, Anja Zschoke

Abstract


In the last common ancestor of modern humans and the three living African ape species a genetic mutation occurred that increased the rate that alcohol was metabolized. This fact initially supports the "drunken monkey hypothesis" which states that natural selection should have favoured individuals that routinely incorporated alcohol- and thus energy-rich fruits into their diet. However, random observations from apes living in the wild do not provide evidence for such kind of choosey feeding behaviours. To investigate whether or not the living great apes have evolved a preference of alcohol-rich fruits over normal ripe fruits we performed a bioassay with captive chimpanzees offering them apple puree with and without rum flavour. Initially, the chimpanzees were curious about the alcohol-flavoured apple puree and feed on it when it was presented to them for the very first time. Once tasted, however, they lost interest in it indicating that chimpanzees are able to perceive, but do not prefer alcohol-rich fruits more than non-alcoholic fruits. Thus, we think that for our hominoid ancestors from the late Miocene the possibility to consume alcohol-rich fruits was helpful to survive periods of food scarcity, but did not lead to a genetic predisposition for alcohol.


Keywords


great ape evolution, alcohol, chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, bioassay

Full Text:

PDF

References


Begun DR. 2007. Fossil record of miocene hominoids. In: Henke W & Tattersall I: Handbook of Paleoanthropology. Springer, p. 921-977

Benner SA. 2013. Paleogenetics and the history of alcohol in primates. Annual Meeting of AAAS, 14-18 February, Boston

Brown NA, Goulding EH, Fabro S. 1979. Ethanol embryotoxicity: direct effects on mammalian embryos in vitro. Science 206: 573-575

Carrigan MA, Uryasev O, Frye CB, Eckman BL, Myers CR, Hurley TD, Benner SA. 2015. Hominids adapted to metabolize ethanol long before human-directed fermentation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (2): 458-463

Dudley R. 2000. Evolutionary origins of human alcoholism in primate frugivory. The Quarterly Review of Biology 75 (1): 3-15

Dudley R. 2004. Ethanol, fruit ripening, and the historical origins of human alcoholism in primate frugivory’. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44 (4): 315-323

Fitzgerald SD, Sullivan JM, Everson RJ. 1990. Suspected ethanol toxicosis in two wild cedar waxwings. Avian Diseases 34 (2): 488-490

Goodman M. 1999. The genomic record of humankind’s evolutionary roots’. The American Journal of Human Genetics 64 (1): 31-39

Hepper PG, Wells DL. 2012. Olfactory discrimination in the western lowland gorilla, (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Primates 53 (2): 121-126

Hockings KJ, Bryson-Morrison N, Carvalho S, Fujisawa M, Humle T, McGrew W, Nakamura M, Ohashi G, Yamanashi Y, Yamakoshi G, Matsuzawa T. 2015. Tools to tipple: ethanol ingestion by wild chimpanzees using leaf-sponges. Royal Society Open Science, 9 June 2015. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150150

Levey DJ. 2004. The evolutionary ecology of ethanol production and alcoholism. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44 (4): 284-89

Martini AC, Molina RI, Estofan D, Senestrari D, Fiol de Cueno M, Ruiz RD. 2004. Effects of alcohol and cigarette consumption on human seminal quality. Fertility & Sterility 82: 374-377

Milton K (2004) Ferment in the family tree: Does a frugivorous dietary heritage influence contemporary patterns of human ethanol use? Integrative and Comparative Biology 44(4): 304-314

R Core Team 2013. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing

Sachs L. 2004. Angewandte Statistik: Anwendung statistischer Methoden. Berlin, Springer press

Siegel RK, Brodie M. 1984. Alcohol self-administration by elephants. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 22: 49-52

Watts DP, Potts KB, Lwanga JS, Mitani JC. 2012. Diet of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Ngogo Kibale National Park, Uganda, 1. Diet composition and diversity’. American Journal of Primatology 74 (2): 114-129

Whiten A, Goodall J, McGrew W, Nishida T, Reynolds V, Sugiyama Y, Tutin CEG, Wrangham RW, Boesch C. 1999. Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature 399: 682-685




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21500/20112084.2299

Copyright (c) 2016 International Journal of Psychological Research

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.