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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Origins of Human Alcohol Consumption Revealed

This is an interesting article tracing the beginning of the human consumption of spirits.  I hope that you find this to be as interesting as I did.


     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 likely 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, as earlier human ancestors had lived.

     "A lot of aspects about the modern human condition - everything from back pain to ingesting too much salt, sugar and fat - goes back to our evolutionary history," said lead study author Matthew Carrigan, a paleogeneticist at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. "We wanted to understand more about the modern human condition with regards to ethanol," he said, referring to the kind of alcohol found in rotting fruit and that's also used in liquor and fuel. 

     To learn more about how human ancestors evolved the ability to break down alcohol, scientists focused on the genes that code for a group of digestive enzymes called the ADH4 family. ADH4 enzymes are found in the stomach, throat and tongue of primates, and are the first alcohol-metabolizing enzymes to encounter ethanol after it is imbibed.

Read more at http://www.livescience.com/48958-human-origins-alcohol-consumption.html

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