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Human Evolution and Dietary Ethanol

by 1,2,* and 1
1
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
2
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 2072, Balboa, Panama
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Emilio Sacanella
Nutrients 2021, 13(7), 2419; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072419
Received: 28 May 2021 / Revised: 9 July 2021 / Accepted: 13 July 2021 / Published: 15 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Alcoholic Beverages on Human Health)
The “drunken monkey” hypothesis posits that attraction to ethanol derives from an evolutionary linkage among the sugars of ripe fruit, associated alcoholic fermentation by yeast, and ensuing consumption by human ancestors. First proposed in 2000, this concept has received increasing attention from the fields of animal sensory biology, primate foraging behavior, and molecular evolution. We undertook a review of English language citations subsequent to publication of the original paper and assessed research trends and future directions relative to natural dietary ethanol exposure in primates and other animals. Two major empirical themes emerge: attraction to and consumption of fermenting fruits (and nectar) by numerous vertebrates and invertebrates (e.g., Drosophila flies), and genomic evidence for natural selection consistent with sustained exposure to dietary ethanol in diverse taxa (including hominids and the genus Homo) over tens of millions of years. We also describe our current field studies in Uganda of ethanol content within fruits consumed by free-ranging chimpanzees, which suggest chronic low-level exposure to this psychoactive molecule in our closest living relatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcoholism; evolution; fermentation; frugivory; Homo; primate; yeast alcoholism; evolution; fermentation; frugivory; Homo; primate; yeast
MDPI and ACS Style

Dudley, R.; Maro, A. Human Evolution and Dietary Ethanol. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2419. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072419

AMA Style

Dudley R, Maro A. Human Evolution and Dietary Ethanol. Nutrients. 2021; 13(7):2419. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072419

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dudley, Robert, and Aleksey Maro. 2021. "Human Evolution and Dietary Ethanol" Nutrients 13, no. 7: 2419. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072419

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