We’ve Been Boozin’
Since We Were Apes

February 19, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

Humans have been indulging in alcohol since the dawn of civilization. No, wait. Earlier! Turns out that humanity’s taste for booze dates back 10 million years, to a common evolutionary ancestor that we share with chimpanzees and gorillas.

This is what scientists at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, FL have concluded based on recent lab “resurrections” of alcohol-metabolizing enzymes found in the fossils of extinct primates. The theory goes that our ape ancestors first got “juiced”, if you will, when they transitioned from an arboreal (tree-dwelling) to a terrestrial (ground-walking) lifestyle, at which point they inevitably came across damaged, yeasty fruits fermenting on the ground. The poor suckers who were unable to metabolize the ethanol would have died off, leaving only those equipped with the proper digestive enzyme to survive. The rest is evolutionary history.

Yes, that means that chimpanzees and gorillas can get drunk.