Friday, June 12, 2015

Chimps and Palm Wine

The latest in the quest for the evolutionary origins of human behavior:
The researchers used video cameras to observe a troop of 26 wild chimps living in Bossou, Guinea, between 1995 and 2012. The villagers living around Bossou routinely tap into the raffia palm tree and collect its sap, which ferments in plastic buckets before being drunk. The villagers collect the fermented palm wine, which has an alcohol content as high as 6.9%, in the early morning and late afternoon. While villagers were away, the chimps approached the buckets, fashioned drinking cups from folded leaves—a toolmaking skill widely observed among wild chimps—and proceeded to consume the beverage themselves. As the team reports online today in Royal Society Open Science, over 17 years it observed 20 “drinking sessions” involving 13 of the chimps, who lapped up the sap at an average rate of about nine leaf dips per minute. On the low end of the scale, that’s roughly equivalent to one liter of beer per session. The 13 chimps included males, females, and young chimps, although not babies. The other 13 animals were never observed drinking during the entire period.


G. Verloren said...

I have absolutely no idea what this excerpt is trying to conclude. It seems merely to be flatly reporting banal, largely meaningless data.

The comsumption of fermented foodstuffs by animals is completely and utterly unsurprising - it's as obvious as the fact that water is wet. How is this at all able to be considered "news" or "research"?

John said...

Ethyl alcohol is poisonous to animal life; most animals cannot digest it, and so it makes them sick. Our livers have evolved to process it in large quantities. Why, how, and when?