Origins of alcohol consumption traced to ape ancestor

Eating fermented fruit off the ground may have paved way for ability to digest ethanol

By Erin Wayman, 09:29 AM February 18, 2013

BOSTON — The taste for alcohol may be an ancient craving. The ability to metabolize ethanol — the alcohol in beer, wine and spirits — might have originated in the common ancestor of chimpanzees, gorillas and humans roughly 10 million years ago, perhaps when this ancestor became more terrestrial and started eating fruits fermenting on the ground.

Chemist Steven Benner of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., reached that conclusion by “resurrecting” the alcoho...

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