Our species’ ability to hold its booze may have stopped us dying out and enabled our conquest of Planet Earth (Picture: Getty)
Humanity’s ancestors may have been saved from extinction by alcohol, scientists have suggested.
In a new book, called Alcohol And Humans: A Long And Social Affair, professors Dr Kim Hockings and Dr Robin Dunbar say that African apes who lived around 10 million years ago evolved to metabolise ethanol, the chemical compound in alcohol.
These primates eventually gave rise not only to humans but also to chimps, bonobos and gorillas, all of which share the ability to break down booze.
The common ape ancestor evolved to carry a protein that made metabolising ethanol more efficient, which allowed them to eat overripe fermented fruits that fell on the ground.