Perhaps you’ve jokingly referred to someone as a “drunken ape” during a night out of questionable choices but, if science is right, that might be a fairly accurate comparison. According to recently released observations of wild chimpanzees from researchers in Guinea, the primates regularly seek and consume naturally fermented alcohol in their natural habitat.
Sounds like a party!
The wild chimp study was conducted as scientists try to answer why we humans have the ability to process alcohol content. Researchers have long asked if that ability was born out of an evolutionary purpose, and have looked into the “drunken monkey hypothesis” in an attempt to uncover that purpose.
The hypothesis is simply that humans consume alcohol for pleasure based on an evolutionary dependence derived from our primate predecessors.
This recently published study from Bossou, Guinea, observed the alcohol consumption of adult chimps.
Over the course of 17 years, researchers watched and learned as the chimps would seek out naturally fermented alcoholic sap—placed in raffia palm trees by the observers.
The sap—reportedly a 3.5 percent alcohol by volume content on average—is naturally produced and fermented year-round by raffia palm tree plants.
The humans would collect the sap, but observed that when the sap taps were left unattended the chimps would take over the process and—using leaves—collect the sap for themselves to drink.
The primates were observed acting with signs of intoxication, and several altered their nightly routines in order to collect and drink more of the palm wine from the trees.