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Published August 2004 | public
Journal Article Open

The comparative biology of ethanol consumption: An introduction to the symposium


In classical Greek, the word "symposium" signifies a drinking party held for the purposes of intellectual discussion. This symposium introduces a new evolutionary perspective on an ancient question: why are many animals, including humans, attracted to ethanol? Recent research has shown that behavioral responses to ethanol and molecular pathways of inebriation are shared among many taxa (Wolf and Heberlein, 2003), and that the preferences of modern humans for alcohol consumption may derive from the diets of our fruit-eating ancestors (i.e., alcoholism as evolutionary hangover; Dudley, 2000, 2002). Placement of ethanol consumption within historical and comparative contexts may thus yield insight into contemporary patterns of human consumption and excessive use.

Additional Information

© 2004 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. We thank the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology for the opportunity to hold this symposium, and the NSF (IBN-0335585) for participant support.


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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023