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Happy hour

Around 300 years ago, vervet monkeys were brought to the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean from Africa along with slaves serving the rum industry. Escaped monkeys developed a taste for alcohol by eating fermenting sugarcane left in the fields. Today they satisfy their thirst by raiding local bars. For years the monkeys have been studied for insights into our own drinking habits. Just as we vary in our taste for alcohol so do the monkeys. The percentage of tea total monkeys matches the non-drinkers in the human population. In line with human habits, most drink in moderation, twelve per cent are steady drinkers and five per cent drink to the last drop. A liking for alcohol is determined by genes and, like monkeys, human taste for alcohol began when we scoured the forest for ripe fermenting fruit. After each daily raid, other human parallels soon appear. In contrast, however, heavy drinkers make good leaders among monkeys, respected by the others.

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