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In Guinea, Wild Chimps Caught Drinking Palm Wine

first_imgA community of chimps in West Africa is partial to the occasional alcoholic beverage. There are “behavioral signs of inebriation (intoxication, excitement),” note researchers, according to The Guardian.In Bossou in southeast Guinea, villagers tap into the trunks of raffia palms to drain off the sap into plastic containers fitted to the trees. These sugary fluid ferments, result in a lightly alcoholic “palm wine” that is collected and consumed. But when the humans are away, the local chimps will occasionally come in for a tipple, using leaves to scoop up tasters of the beverage. “When I first observed the behavior it immediately sparked my interest,” says Kimberley Hockings, a behavioral ecologist at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. But as she’d only seen the chimps sampling the palm wine on a few occasions, she approached others who’ve worked on this community over the past 20 years and got them to dig into their notebooks for similar records. The result is a collaborative paper published today in the Royal Society’s open-access journal Open Science based on 51 wine-drinking events.With an average ethanol content of three percent, the palm wine is of similar strength to a weak beer. “When the sap is fresh, it’s quite sweet and tastes very pleasant,” says Hockings. But it ferments very quickly. “After 24 hours it turns very acidic and vinegary and from my perspective is undrinkable,” she says. The strongest sample collected by the researchers came in at almost 7 percent alcohol by volume, which would presumably pack quite a punch for an animal that’s half the size of a human. Hockings and her colleagues estimate that the leafy receptacles probably convey between 10 and 50 ml at a time and the chimps make a dip every 6 or 7 seconds. So in a swift session of about minute, a chimp would consume around 100 ml of palm wine or 3 ml of ethanol. But the longest recorded binge lasted more than 30 minutes, during which time the chimp might have taken on as much as 3 liters of wine and 90 ml of ethanol. Even by the most excessive of human standards, this is a serious bender. Combing through the supplemental data, I notice that it was this same chimp – a male known affectionately as FF – that was responsible for approximately one-third of the 51 drinking events. I asked Hockings if he might have a drink problem, but she is careful not to cast aspersions. “I don’t think it’s an addiction, as he drinks it rarely,” she says. “But, anecdotally, he always drinks palm wine when it is available and is often the first to climb the raffia.”In the discussion to the paper, Hockings and her colleagues touch on what everyone will be wondering. “Some of the chimpanzees at Bossou consumed significant quantities of ethanol and displayed behavioral signs of inebriation,” they write. When I read this, I pictured a whole load of debauched chimps, slurring their pant-hoots and tumbling out of trees, but Hockings’ stories are disappointingly sober. On one occasion, she saw several chimps conclude a drinking session by having a rest. On another, an adult male was not his usual self after a drink. “Whilst other chimpanzees were making and settling into their night nests, he spent an additional hour moving from tree to tree in an agitated manner,” she says.All of this is more than just a description of a few wayward animals. The occasional boozing of Bossou chimps supports molecular evidence that the ability to metabolize alcohol appeared in the common ancestor of humans and chimps about 10 million years ago. So chimps have a grasp of cooking and can drink quite considerable quantities of alcohol. “What chimp-based surprise will I be writing about next week, I wonder?” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more


Serena return highlights challenges facing tennis-playing parents

first_imgThe 23-time Grand Slam champion has seen her ranking slip to 451 and is unseeded in Paris, a decision criticised by many, including Serena’s long-time rival Maria Sharapova and even US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.Serena herself, though, has never publicly called for a change to the seeding rules, instead saying the biggest difference for her since becoming a mother is wanting to get away from court a bit quicker.“The biggest difference is definitely that I’m semi on time (for her press conference) today, two minutes late, because I want to get home and see Olympia, because I have been here all day,” she said after her first-round win over Kristyna Pliskova on Tuesday, her first Grand Slam match since the 2017 Australian Open final when she beat sister Venus while two months pregnant.Serena’s fellow former world number one Victoria Azarenka was forced to miss the majority of last season after becoming embroiled in a custody battle over her son.With a current ranking of 84, Azarenka was beaten in the first round at Roland Garros by Katerina Siniakova.Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella incredibly played while four and a half months pregnant at Wimbledon last year, having found out she was expecting a child just before going out on court.“It was a real shock. My whole body was sweating and I was shaking but we were happy straight away,” Minella, who also lost in French Open first round, said last July.– Ferrer points out the negatives –With the demands of touring the world while playing a very physical sport, parenthood can also have a big affect on the top male players.David Ferrer, who blew a two-set lead against fellow Spaniard Jaume Munar to lost in the Roland Garros for the first time in his career, pointed out that being a father isn’t all fun and games.After all, even 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer suffered a knee injury while running a bath for his twins in 2016.“Being a father is very nice, but it also has drawbacks,” said the 36-year-old Ferrer. “It makes me laugh that many parents only talk about the beautiful, but it’s also hard and there are sacrifices.”Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, whose second child was born before the French Open, doesn’t necessarily agree with Ferrer.“I see it as an enjoyment, although sometimes it’s tiring, but sometimes there are tiring things that give you energy,” said the world number 75, who will face sixth seed Kevin Anderson in the second round on Thursday.Azarenka was keen to highlight the physical changes that make a successful return to tennis more difficult for mothers than fathers, while Williams feels that an added emotional attachment brings its own difficulties.“Men don’t go through the whole physical experience of becoming a parent,” Azarenka said.Serena, who suffered life-threatening blood clots after giving birth, added: “Emotionally I think it’s different, because, you know, I’m so emotionally attached to my daughter. Dads are, too, but I actually breast fed for a really, really, really long time, and so I just had this real connection with my daughter.”The 36-year-old Williams has been very open about becoming a parent, with HBO filming four-part documentary ‘Being Serena’, while her daughter Olympia already has a growing social media following.But some players, like Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis, would prefer to just talk about tennis.“That’s a private thing,” said the former French Open semi-finalist when asked about his newborn baby.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Back with a bang: Serena Williams made a winning return to Grand Slam tennis after a complicated pregnancy © AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMONPARIS, France, May 30 – The return of Serena Williams to Grand Slam tennis after pregnancy has dominated the early headlines at the French Open, but there are plenty of other players who have seen their careers changed by parenthood in recent months.Williams’ comeback has highlighted the fact that women who return after having a child are treated the same way as those sidelined by injury.last_img read more