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Study: Chimps really like palm wine

"This new use of elementary technology shows once again how clever and enterprising humankind’s nearest living relations are," study author Kimberley Hockings said.

By Brooks Hays

BOSSOU, Guinea, June 10 (UPI) -- Researchers can now confirm that a love of alcohol isn't an entirely human phenomenon. According to a new study, chimpanzees also take readily to the bottle -- particularly bottles full of palm wine.

Almost every human society with access to fermentation have developed a drinking culture of sorts. But until now, evidence of alcohol consumption among our ape relatives has been rare and mostly accidental.

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Confirming the suspicion of observant locals West Africa, researchers observed a group of wild chimps using spongey, leaf-made tools to drink fermented sap from the raffia palm. Researchers believe the chimpanzees -- mankind's closest living ape relative -- discovered the alcoholic sap after the people of Bossou, a city in the Republic of Guinea, set out containers to catch the tree's readymade wine.

The chimps' drinking habits extended to all ages and sexes, and some adults were observed drinking large amounts of the sap and appearing drunk.

"Our research demonstrates that there is not a strict aversion to food containing ethanol in this chimpanzee community," lead study author Kimberley Hockings, a researcher at the Oxford Brookes University and Portugal's Center for Research in Anthropology, said in a press release.

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"This new use of elementary technology shows once again how clever and enterprising humankind's nearest living relations are," Hockings added.

The new study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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