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A Brief History Of Alcohol As Explained By Cats

The exceptionally long history of how hoomans and booze came to know each other.

Last updated on July 22, 2015, at 1:23 p.m. ET

Posted on July 22, 2015, at 1:23 p.m. ET

Between around 150 and 50 million years ago, there was a tiny yeast that wanted to eat ALL the fruit by itself.

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This mighty yeast evolved a way to turn the fruit's sugar into something the yeast could use for energy but also kept bacteria away.

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That something was ethanol — the kind of alcohol we humans drink.

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But there were other critters that wanted in on that fruit too. That's why it became advantageous for many animals to be able to smell that alcohol scent created by the yeast.

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Over millions of years, some scientists think natural selection could have led many animals (including human ancestors) to associate ethanol with nom noms.

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That meant these animals needed a biological way to tolerate the booze. That's probably why an enzyme called ADH evolved in many creatures around 50 million years ago.

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Around 10 million years ago, some primate ancestors of ours made a big leap forward on that front. They evolved a version of that enzyme 40 times more powerful than the old kind.

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Those primate ancestors eventually evolved to become chimpanzees, gorillas, and us humans!

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Around at least 9,000 years ago we humans figured out how to use the power of yeast to create our own alcohol.

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Perhaps drawn to alcohol by those millions of years of evolution, humans quickly found that booze had a remarkable effect on the mind and body.

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Ever since then, alcohol has played a role in nearly every human society that has ever existed.

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Which has caused no problems whatsoever.

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