This Binge-drinking Tree Shrew Could Probably Outdrink You

This Binge-drinking Tree Shrew Could Probably Outdrink You


This episode is supported by NordVPN. Right now, NordVPN is offering SciShow viewers
a chance to set up your own Virtual Private Network and start protecting your internet experience
with 77% off a 3-year plan. Use the code “SCISHOW” at NordVPN.com/SCISHOW. [♩INTRO] Humans are far from the only animals that
drink booze. But, like us, they usually pay for it after. That poor Swedish moose is never going to
live down that whole drunkenly-getting-stuck-in-a-tree
thing. But there’s a mysterious little tree shrew
in Southeast Asia that basically lives on palm wine. And somehow, it never gets drunk. Lots of animals will occasionally down a spiked
drink if given the chance. Some even show a preference for it. But none are so well adapted to binge-drinking
as the pen-tailed tree shrew. They’re small, nocturnal mammals and they spend their nights drinking bertam
palm nectar. The spiky plant is a tough sell for most species, so being able to consume it gives the tree shrews an abundant, reliable
food source. But the sugary juice it produces is frothy
and stinks like booze, for good reason. It’s fermented by yeast, and it can contain
as much alcohol as a light beer, up to about 4%. That doesn’t seem to matter to the tree
shrews, though, who can spend spend more than two hours at
a time slurping away. Scientists have calculated that they drink
their body weight equivalent of about 9 glasses of wine several nights
a week. But they never seem drunk! No stumbling around, falling out of trees, or dialing their exes because they need closure. And that might be because of the way they
break down alcohol. When we drink, most of the alcohol we consume is broken down by an enzyme called alcohol
dehydrogenase, eventually becoming acetic acid, aka the stuff
in vinegar. But a very small amount is bound to a glucose
derivative to make a compound called ethyl glucuronide. And tree shrew hairs contain about 30 times
the level of ethyl glucuronide that indicates excessive drinking in people. Researchers think that’s because tree shrews
are up to 30 times more efficient than us at breaking
down ethanol this way, which could explain their tolerance. But lots of ethyl glucuronide is also thought
to be one of the drivers of blinding hangover headaches, as well as the pain associated with withdrawal
in alcoholics. So we don’t yet know how they avoid being
perpetually hungover… or why they aren’t grumpier if they do spend every morning with a splitting
headache. Of course, pen-tailed tree shrews aren’t
the only animals that can handle their liquor. Several bat species can apparently drink until
their blood alcohol is 0.3% nearly four times the legal driving limit
in the US and they still hunt and fly just fine. But biologists don’t think that kind of
drinking is a nightly activity for them. And other species, including primates like
the slow loris, also drink alcohol regularly, they just don’t
drink as much. Tree shrews are the only animals we know of
that binge drink all the time… other than some humans. Which is especially interesting, because they’re considered one of our closest living
non-primate relatives, having veered off from our line some 60ish
million years ago. Their boozy behavior adds to the growing evidence that our relationship with alcohol began long
before we learned how to ferment it for ourselves, and may even suggest there are benefits to
regular drinking. But … it’s important to remember that
their bodies have adaptations for excessive alcohol consumption
that ours don’t. So it’s probably best to leave the binge
drinking to the tree shrews. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow, and thanks to NordVPN for sponsoring this
episode. I’m on the internet all the time for work,
but in my free time, I also like to be on internet all the time. But depending on where you are, the internet is not always as safe as you
might think. With NordVPN, you can make your connection
to the internet more secure. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. If you’re watching this video in a coffee
shop or in an airport, you’re on a public network, which means other people might be able to
see what you’re doing online. Even secure sites aren’t always completely
safe. And while watching a SciShow video anywhere
is great… let’s say you needed to check your bank
statement on that same wifi network. That’s not information that you want to
share with just anyone, so, a public network is not the best way to
do that. With a VPN, that sensitive information would
be encrypted and routed through a trusted server before
being sent to the bank. And your bank statement would be encrypted
by the server on the way back, so none of your personal information would
ever be accessible by people on the public wifi. And NordVPN does all of this for you with
over 4600 servers in 62 countries, and they’re adding new secure servers all
the time. They’ve actually added over 200 servers since the last time they sponsored a SciShow
video! NordVPN works across different operating systems and one plan can be used on up to 6 of devices. And right now, you can go to NordVPN.com/SciShow and use the code “SCISHOW” to get 77%
off a 3-year VPN plan. [♩OUTRO]

100 thoughts on “This Binge-drinking Tree Shrew Could Probably Outdrink You

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *