On December 5th a professor at the University of Oxford said human ancestors may have saved them from extinction because of their ability to digest alcohol,media reported. The idea is published in a new book, Humans and Alcohol: Long-Term Social Things. The ancestors of common apes evolved to carry a protein that made ethanol more efficient in metabolism, allowing them to eat immature fermented fruit that had fallen on the ground.
Robin Dunbar, a professor at Oxford University and one of the authors, believes that this ability to break down alcohol 10 million years ago may have helped human ancestors make the most of the rotting fermented fruit that had fallen on the forest floor to win the race for survival.
Kim Hawkins, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and one of the authors, says it’s interesting to note that falling fruit contains about 1% to 4% alcohol, the equivalent of a beer with low alcohol content. But many of the alcohol consumed by humans today is much higher.
Yet to this day, we can still see chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas eating fermented fruit and even drinking human-made palm wine.