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Higher primates, such as chimpanzees, will eat rotting fruit to enjoy the "high" from their fermenting juices. It's therefore pretty safe to assume early Man did, too. The process of sugars fermenting into alcohol occurs regularly in nature through contact with airborne yeasts. But alcohol use would not have begun in earnest until the dawn of agriculture. Most sugars are simply not abundant enough in nature to make serious production worthwhile, so we probably began farming before we began brewing.
The scientists say that in nature, fruit flies are often exposed to alcohol in rotting fruit, and there is strong evidence to suggest that the drug has a similar effect on the insects.Heberlein says that when flies are exposed to ethanol vapour, they become hyperactive, uncoordinated and eventually sedated.In another discovery the research team found that, as well as making the flies more tolerant of alcohol, the hangover gene appeared to influence the way the insects responded to stressful conditions in their environment, such as increased temperature.