Primates have been drinking alcohol for 10 million years, according to a new study

Primates have consumed alcohol before fermentation was ever understood.

By Thor Benson

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- According to a new study, primates have been consuming some form of alcohol since 10 million years ago.

The scientists looked at almost 70 million years worth of primate genes from data banks and analyzed digestive enzymes that would allow them to consume ethanol, which is the form of alcohol found in a rotting fruit.


They found a genetic mutation from 10 million years ago that would make it easier for primates to digest ethanol, which would be the first record of that ability in primates. They believe alcohol may have been consumed incidentally by primates eating fruit off of the forest floor.

"If the ancestors of humans, chimps and gorillas had a choice between rotten and normal fruit, they would go for the normal fruit," said lead study author Matthew Carrigan of Santa Fe College. "Just because they were adapted to be able to ingest it doesn't mean ethanol was their first choice, nor that they were perfectly adapted to metabolize it."

Studies have found alcohol could have intentionally been brewed as early as 10,000 B.C., but this new study shows accidental consumption of alcohol may have occurred much earlier.


The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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