The caning of the shrew

On the razz:A tagged Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrew is caught on film

BY ANNE CAMPBELL

THEY go out boozing all night, can drink the average person under the table and are technically sozzled more than a third of the time. What are they? Tramps? Binge- drinking teenagers? No, Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrews... The pint-sized mammals - distant cousins of humams live on naturally occuring 'beer', researchers have discovered.
They feed on fermented nectar at night and could, pound for pound, win any pub drinking competition. Impressed, but wondering how this affects you?
Well, here's the best bit - they don't get hangovers. The rat-sized tree shrews have existed for about 55 million years. They live on flower buds from the bertam palm,which have an alcohol content of up to 3.8 per cent - similar to the human variety of 'Bud'.
Suspicious of their drinking habits,researchers tagged and filmed the shrews to monitor their feeding.

Analysis of the creatures' hair revealed that,on anyh given night,they had a 36 per cent chance of being drunk by human standards.
Yet,they never showed any sign of intoxification - probably because they have evolved a super-efficient system for breaking down alcohol.
Tree shrews and humans might have shared an ancestor which benefited from the effects of alcohol - one reason both still enjoy a tipple today,said Dr Frank Wiens,of Bayreuth University in Germany. [Metro Jul29,2008]


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