When animals get drunk

In his Origin of Species, Charles Darwin told the story of a monkey that developed “a strong taste” for beer and other “spirituous liquors.” That alcoholic monkey, however, seemed to be an outlier: Most lab animals actually find the taste of booze slightly repellent.

But now there’s peer-reviewed proof that a few members of the animal kingdom have learned to enjoy the occasional drink in their natural habitats. A new paper reports that several species native to the Malaysian rain forest sip the nectar of the Bertram palm, which has an alcohol content roughly equivalent to that of Bud Light. The scientists even found one species — the pen-tailed tree shrew — that seemed to subsist on this natural moonshine. Appropriately, the pen-tailed variety is the one nocturnal tree shrew. Most impressive, though, was how well the tree shrews handled their liquor: Despite their extremely high blood-alcohol levels, the animals never appeared to be the slightest bit tipsy.

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When animals get drunk