Science Says Humans Are The Only Animals With A Drinking Problem


A new scientific paper titled ‘Ethanol Ingestion By Wild Chimpanzees Using Leaf-Sponges’ provides more evidence that while other animals enjoy getting drunk off fermented drinks, humans are the only animal that regularly drink themselves into embarrassing drunken stupors. Via Qaurtz:

The latest study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, describes how a group of wild chimpanzees in Guinea occasionally found and raided the sites of palm alcohol production, often drinking from breakfast until nightfall. Interestingly, only on one occasion was an individual observed who had had a few too many.

The paper isn’t devoted to drawing conclusions about our drinking versus chimp drinking. Rather, it studies how the chimpanzees behave with an abundant source of free alcohol and leaves you to puzzle out why they seem to handle it better than we do. Quartz walks us through some more studies done with other species:

Pigs have a fairly rigid pecking order, which of course is hard to maintain when everyone is drunk. In this experiment, after a few days, the pig that was third in the hierarchy sobered up and moved up to be the dominant individual in the group.

The previously dominant pig, perceiving its loss of status, then also “dried out” and regained its place at the top of the food chain. This situation cascaded down the social hierarchy, except for those at the bottom who appeared to sense they had nothing to lose from being inebriated.

A couple more fun scientific determinations about animals drinking and drugging:

  • Some primates and rodents separated from their social circle ended up drinking more alcohol.
  • Previously stressed or anxious animals are more likely to stick with that elevated drinking even after being re-introduced to the group.
  • But most rats given morphine based drugs ditched the drugs are being moved from individual cages to a larger environment with other rats.
  • Old videos of elephants and other animals staggering around drunk may have been set up – the amount of alcohol in fermenting fruits would require animals to eat a huge amount at an unlikely pace.

So not only do humans really enjoy getting drunk, we enjoy getting other animals drunk too.

(Via Quartz)