Ever wonder why you like to drink wine? Aside from the fact that it’s delicious? Apparently the answer is you evolved to enjoy alcohol — 10 million years ago! So pop open a bottle and toast your ancient ancestors this evening:
Human ancestors may have begun evolving the knack for consuming alcohol about 10 million years ago, long before modern humans began brewing booze, researchers say.
The ability to break down alcohol probably helped human ancestors make the most out of rotting, fermented fruit that fell onto the forest floor, the researchers said. Therefore, knowing when this ability developed could help researchers figure out when these human ancestors began moving to life on the ground, as opposed to mostly in trees.
While know that humans have been making their own alcohol since at least 7,000 BC, the news that our ancestors were drinking 10 million years ago puts that in a new perspective. Here are the scientific details of the discovery:
The researchers looked at the ADH4 genes from 28 different mammals, to investigate how closely related they were and find out when their ancestors diverged. In total, they explored nearly 70 million years of primate evolution. The scientists then used this knowledge to investigate how the ADH4 genes evolved over time and what the ADH4 genes of their ancestors might have been like.
The results suggested there was a single genetic mutation 10 million years ago that endowed human ancestors with an enhanced ability to break down ethanol.
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