Event Resources Add Event
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

2017 SSM Darwin Week – College of Charleston: “The Drunken Monkey: Is Alcoholism in Modern Humans an Evolutionary Hangover?”

February 15, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

| Free

The Drunken Monkey: Is Alcoholism in Modern Humans an Evolutionary Hangover?
Robert Dudley
University of California, Berkeley


Ethanol derives from the fermentation of simple sugars, and fermentative yeasts are ubiquitous within terrestrial ecosystems. Animals that routinely consume sugar-rich fruits and nectar thus routinely ingest low-level ethanol, although typical concentrations and consumed volumes are not well known. The sensory capacity to detect and follow ethanol plumes enables localization of ripe fruits over long distances, as occurs in fruit flies. Positive psychoactive responses to ethanol among vertebrate fruit-eaters (and modern humans) can act to increase net caloric gain during feeding via the aperitif effect. Recent paleogenetic reconstruction of one of the enzymes involved in ethanol metabolism (ADH) suggests sustained exposure of human ancestors over the last 12 million years to dietary ethanol. Patterns of alcohol use by modern humans may thus reflect ancestral sensory biases associating ethanol consumption with nutritional reward (i.e., the “”drunken monkey”” hypothesis). Detailed measurements of ethanol concentrations within fruit and nectar, together with comparative behavioral, physiological and genomic data among fruit- and nectar-eaters, are now necessary to test the generality of this hypothesis.


February 15, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


School of Science and Mathematics Auditorium
202 Calhoun St, Charleston, SC 29401 United States