Tree shrew chugs down lots of fermented nectar, then walks straight line
In fact, the United Kingdom newspaper The Herald states in their 7-29-08 online story “The shaming of the shrew: tiny animal could drink humans under,” that: “A pint-sized tree shrew that lives on nectar "beer" could, pound-for-pound, drink the average human under the table, scientists have discovered.”
The article by the research team, which summarizes the conclusions of their study, is called “Chronic intake of fermented floral nectar by wild treeshrews.” It appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Its authors, from the countries of Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Malaysia, include Frank Wiens, Annette Zitzmann, Marc-AndrÃ© Lachance, Michel Yegles, Fritz Pragst, Friedrich M. Wurst, Dietrich von Holst, Saw Leng Guan, and Rainer Spanagel.
The abstract to their July 29, 2008 paper compares alcohol consumption in humans and other animals.
It states, “For humans alcohol consumption often has devastating consequences. Wild mammals may also be behaviorally and physiologically challenged by alcohol in their food. Here, we provide a detailed account of chronic alcohol intake by mammals as part of a coevolved relationship with a plant.”
The researchers continue to state within the abstract, “We discovered that seven mammalian species in a West Malaysian rainforest consume alcoholic nectar daily from flower buds of the bertam palm (Eugeissona tristis), which they pollinate. The 3.8% maximum alcohol concentration (mean: 0.6%; median: 0.5%) that we recorded is among the highest ever reported in a natural food. Nectar high in alcohol is facilitated by specialized flower buds that harbor a fermenting yeast community, including several species new to science.”
One specific species of animal was especially interesting to the researchers. Please read more about the Pen-tailed tree shrew on page two.
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William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University