1 Tahrcountry Musings: Big time boozer tree shrew

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Big time boozer tree shrew

The latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences features interesting things about Malaysia's pen-tailed tree-shrew’s (Ptilocercus lowii) heavy drinking. The researchers are Frank Wiens, and his colleagues from the University of Bayreuth in Germany.The tree shrew feeds on fermented nectar from the Bertam Palm (Eugeissona tristis) daily at nightfall. The nectar is fermented by yeast community into a frothy beer-like beverage. The animals' high alcohol consumption was verified by analysing their hair. Surprisingly they do not seem to get drunk.This suggests its body must have an effective mechanism for breaking down alcohol.The researchers’ hypothesise that the humans may even preserve a relic of the shrews' love of alcohol through millions of years of evolution and that moderate to high alcohol intake was present early on in the evolution of these closely related lineages. The scientists hope to get insights into how humans' alcohol tolerance first evolved.

Chronic intake of fermented floral nectar by wild treeshrews” by Frank Wiens, Annette Zitzmann, Marc-AndrĂ© Lachance, Michel Yegles, Fritz Pragst, Friedrich M. Wurst, Dietrich von Holst, Saw Leng Guan, and Rainer Spanagel (see pages 10426–10431)

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