It is known that some species of animals sometimes consume alcohol in the form of fruits and other spontaneously fermented foods in their natural habitat. One feature that is thought reserved for the human species, but we certainly share it with certain species of prosimians primates such as lemurs and slow loris.
A study by scientists at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire (USA) has recently revealed, according to the Sciencealert.com portal, that these species of lemurs also show a marked preference for a higher concentration of alcohols. The specimens analyzed in the study were able to discriminate between different concentrations of alcohol, usually preferring the highest.
The aim of the investigation, despite what may seem, was not to provoke drunkenness in innocent arboreal animals, but to find out what kind of fermented foods are attractive and also to better understand how the digestion of nectars, juices, and fermented fruit works naturally.
According to the lead researcher of the study, Samuel Gochman, – Although the dominant hypothesis is that alcohol is toxic, and adversely affects control of motoric skills, survival and fitness. However, this is rare in the natural environment and, in this case, it is a rich source of calories for primates with a high metabolism, so it may be beneficial nutritionally consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, especially in species that have developed a digestive system that can suffer from decreased efficiency, as ours.
The study was conducted by lemurs offered a sucrose solution simulating the nectar they can find in their natural habitat, with different concentrations of alcohol from 0.0 to 5.0%. The results show that animals are opting for the more concentrated solutions, even emptying the containers completely.
Most surprising is that none of the – participants – in the study showed any signs of intoxication during the experiment, maintaining their usual levels of coordination and behavior, which can be explained as an evolutionary adaptation that supports the idea that food fermented could be important in the diet of some of our most distant ancestors.
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