Street corners in Belfast are often populated by young men with ‘slabs’ of beer cans at their feet. Drinking 24 cans of beer can induce the sort of behaviour that makes this pastime a nuisance. But scientists have discovered that our propensity for alcohol might be an entirely natural evolutionary trait.
For 17 years researchers have been monitoring the behaviour of chimpanzees in the Republic of Guinea. The chimps have been observed drinking the fermented sap of palm trees, some of them showing signs of inebriation.
The study written up in the journal Royal Society Open Science, revealed their tipple of choice is naturally fermented palm wine, produced by raffia palm trees.
If a treetop chimp bar was to open in their habitat, would they stick to the low alcohol palm wine (up to 6.9%) or would they develop the sophisticated palate of a bon viveur? Would female chimps show any aesthetic difference in their drinking preferences to their male counterparts? Would there be groups of female chimps sipping on white wine spritzes while the alpha males were guzzling pints of lager with whisky chasers? Further research may be required to answer these compelling questions.
In the meantime feel free to share this anecdote with streetcorner boys. I’m sure they will be intrigued by the correlation in their behaviour with that of chimps.