Primeval link to alcohol fondness : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Primeval link to alcohol fondness.

If fermented fruit fell in the forest, and human ancestors were there to eat it, would their descendants want a cold beer?

This is the basis of a new theory trying to explain why humans have a penchant for alcohol and why small quantities may have health benefits.

Robert Dudley of the University of Texas at Austin in the US says the human thirst for alcohol developed when primates and other animals, deep in the past, began eating fruit.

The exposure to the ethonol of decomposing fruit might have played a role in the evolution of humans.

Dr Dudley's theory is that ripe fruit appears seasonally only in tropical forest, and fruit-loving animals benefit from the extra calories.

Because it helped them survive, early human ancestors probably were attracted to the smell and taste of fallen, over-ripe fruit.

If this craving for ethonol were sharpened for a few million years or so, modern humans would be left with a particular liking for alcoholic beverages.

The theory, detailed in the latest American Quarterly Review of Biology, might even explain why moderate alcohol consumption has certain health benefits, Dr Dudley said.

But he said the problem today is abundance.

While the ability to find trace amounts of alcohol might have helped early humans survive, finding alcohol today doesn't take a lot of skill, and some humans instead fall victim to alcoholism and drunk driving.

The Weekend Australian newspaper


I never thought abundance was a problem, once, and became a scientific curiosity prone to much probing and prodding by sundry ancient quacks. Thus I have a letter stating my liver was showing signs of extreme ethonol poisoning with lusty polyps. I reckon this article is a lot of balderdash because one would think that following 2 million years of evolution my liver would cope.

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (, April 06, 2000


Pieter, maybe natural fermented fruit is no problem, maybe it is some other human made unnatural by-product, added to the mixture. ;-)

-- Still (, April 06, 2000.

I have heard credible stories of drunken bears, birds and elephants, who got that way just by eating fermented fruit. Making some kind of fermented beer-like beverage is just about universal among all peoples. Materials for making alcohol have included fermented fruits, grains, potatoes, honey and even mare's milk (kumiss).

Clearly, the attraction of alcohol has been around even longer than humankind. We just got better than the birds, bears and elephants at making our own supply. But, all I can say is, god bless the Irish for inventing whiskey and the Scots for perfecting it.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, April 06, 2000.

Interesting theory and easily believable. I wish he would have expanded more though, and especially explain why our cravings for not just alcohol, but any kind of drugs. Certainly related. But that would be beyond the scope of a newspaper article.

And I believe you got that in reverse Brian, it's thank the Scots for inventing scotch and the Irish for perfecting it 8-)

-- Chris (!@#$, April 06, 2000.

And then ofcourse, the Canadians perfected it even more *:o) *hic*

-- Chris (!@#$, April 06, 2000.

Birds getting drunk definitely does happen -- as a kid, I can remember a couple of years when a particular berry bush in the back yard produced some very drunk robins. My mother got so concerned about having a bunch of birds in the yard which were staggering around and unable to fly, that she called the local health authorities. She was concerned that they were ill with something, and that perhaps it could be communicated to humans. She was told not to worry; weather and growing conditions that year had just caused the berrys to ferment and the birds were drunk.

Now, of course, the problem with the theory that evolution causes us to want alcohol for its caloric content (rather than, say, for the "buzz") is that fermented material is not significantly higher in calories than unfermented stuff.

-- E.H. Porter (Just, April 07, 2000.

it always takes scientists years before they catch up with what everyone knows already

-- richard (, April 07, 2000.


All the berry eating has an effect on their gastrointestinal tracts, too. That's how the American Robin got its scientific name Turdus migratorius - the wandering turd bird.

-- flora (***@__._), April 07, 2000.

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