Chimps regularly drink alcohol in the wild
A group of apes with a taste for fermented palm sap may help explain why humans enjoy drinking alcohol, according to a new study.
A paper published in the Royal Society Open Science journal states scientists have found evidence of “long-term and recurrent ingestion of ethanol” among wild chimpanzees in the town of Bossou in Guinea, West Africa.
Scientists observed the apes over a span of 17 years, and found they routinely gathered to drink fermented palm sap, which has an alcohol strength of up to 6.9% abv, using a leaf which they had fashioned into a sponge.
The study revealed that the apes’ drinking sessions occurred across different months at various times of the day, with no evidence of them ingesting the sap at night.
The amount of alcohol ingested ranged from about 2.5 to 84ml and there was no difference found between male and female chimps.
The study, called “Tools to tipple: ethanol ingestion by wild chimpanzees using leaf-sponges” supports the idea that the last common ancestor between African apes and modern humans were “not averse to ingesting foods containing ethanol.”
In addition, the authors of the report say the findings should prompt further tests on the theory that human’s attraction to alcohol may derive from the dependence of ancestors on both ripe and fermenting fruit.