5 Eerily Familiar Things Animals Do When They're Drunk
Opposable thumbs. The prefrontal cortex. Mind-altering substances. All things that would seem to make humans special and way better than those stupid, thumbless, sober animals.
We've told you before how there are animals that like drugs and alcohol, some even going so far as to seek it out. But it isn't just our love of being drunk that unites us with our furry and feathery cousins. It turns out, once they get wasted, animals start acting a lot like humans.
They Are Terrible Singers
Let's face it, karaoke only exists for one reason, and that is because when people get drunk they think they are the next Mariah Carey when really they are lucky if they are the next William Hung.
Not even Mariah Carey is Mariah Carey anymore.
Since scientists get bored sometimes, Christopher Olson from the Oregon Health & Science University decided to find out if the birds he worked with would also suffer vocally if they had a little alcohol in them. So one day he added some to their juice, in an act that would be totally illegal if it involved humans, but it was just some finches, so fuck it.
The scientist said he wasn't even sure the finches would drink the booze, but that in the end they were "somewhat willing to consume it," which I can only assume means it took hours of peer pressure about how they needed to be cooler if lady finches were ever going to go out with them. The results were pretty much what you would expect, but way funnier because they are birds. The finches' songs became "less organized" and they slurred whatever the avian equivalent of words are.
It goes without saying that their app scores plummeted.
Since getting birds drunk is obviously tons of fun, Olson isn't done yet. He plans on seeing if being drunk affects his finches' abilities to learn new songs as well, like when someone insists you duet with them on a song you have never heard before when you can barely keep the words in focus.
But it is not just birds that scientists have a weird obsession with getting wasted ...
They Think They Are Awesome
Alcohol can make you feel so invincible that there have actually been PSAs reminding people that drinking does not turn you into a superhero.
It ends about as well as you would expect.
Now, thanks to scientists' bizarre fixation with getting fish drunk, we know that it isn't just humans who push themselves to the limit when they get a bit of liquid courage.
In a variety of experiments, researchers have tested how zebrafish change their behavior while under the influence. First, they built robots that looked like the fish's natural predators. When sober, the fish freaked out and ran for cover when the seemingly dangerous animals showed up. But after spiking their water with ethanol (the preferred way to get fish wasted) the zebrafish were totally chill about their impending doom. The scientists concluded that alcohol lowers fish anxiety the same way it does in humans.
In a later experiment, the scientists found that drunk zebrafish get almost hyperactive, zipping around their aquariums like they are the king of the world (too much alcohol eventually made them slow down, again, basically exactly like humans). When inebriated fish were put back into tanks with sober fish, they took over leadership roles, directing the whole school to zip around and be awesome. You might see parallels to this in your own life, if you have ever had a drunk friend enthusiastically convince you to go on some crazy middle-of-the-night road trip where you eventually wake up in a dumpster in New Jersey.
As if you could tell the difference.
People are seriously attached to self-medicating. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have an addiction, but how many times have you said, "I'm going to need a drink later." Whether it is students after a hard test, parents when their kid craps everywhere, or just a long day at work, everything difficult seems to call for a drink. And people with mental issues, especially depression, are even more likely to try to cover up their sadness with some form of legal or illegal drug, particularly alcohol.
So, if we do it all the time, how can we expect our closest relatives to be any different?
Monkey businessman needs to get wasted after a day like this.
In a study that once again proves scientists are just using their fancy degrees to get animals hilariously drunk, researchers at the National Institutes of Health Animal Center gave rhesus macaques access to alcohol. Many of the monkeys took to their new treat, drinking until they got sick or passed out. But part of the study involved keeping some macaques in cages with friends while others were all alone. And just like you would expect with humans, the lonely monkeys drank way more than the social ones. The macaques were also much more likely to drink in the evening than in the morning, as if they were relaxing after a hard day of monkeying around.
They Build Up a Serious Tolerance
You'll notice that most of these entries aren't about animals out in nature going off to find alcohol -- they're about scientists basically forcing it on them. That means that their tiny bodies are not used to intoxication, and the effects could be exaggerated.
But what about the other end of the spectrum? What about animals that like their booze just a little too much?
You are destroying the lives of everyone around you.
In ancient times, also known as the 1990s, Frank Wiens and Annette Ziztmann from the University of Bayreuth noticed that that animal above, the pen-tailed tree shrew, really liked drinking nectar from a particular type of palm tree. They also noticed that the nectar was foaming like beer. So they tested it and found it was 3.8 percent alcohol, the same amount as many commercially available beers. That might seem pretty paltry, but did you see the size of that tree shrew?
It would be one thing if this was just an occasional tipple, but just like people getting in rounds at a bar, the tree shrews go back again and again over the course of an evening. In fact, most of them end up consuming the equivalent of nine alcoholic beverages a night, every single night.
In the human world, we would call that having a serious drinking problem. But just like humans, drinking that much builds up the tree shrews' tolerances to the point that they show no signs of intoxication at all. It seems they just really like the taste. And they can totally stop whenever they want.
They Grow Out of It
Ah, the halcyon days of youth. When you could get drunk and still get up for class in the morning, when hangovers were little more than an inconvenience. If you are still in that stage, good for you. Enjoy it now, because it ends. Some people just get bored of partying, others realize they don't have time for it anymore, and some people, like me, end up in rehab before the whole "you are too old for this" thing sticks.
It seems that, for some monkeys, life exacts a similar buzzkill. The vervet monkeys that are found on some Caribbean islands have acquired a taste for alcohol over the last 300 years. First, they got this from sugar cane that fermented, but now they straight-up steal that shit from tourists to get their fix. They absolutely love their booze, with a full 20 percent of them preferring it over non-alcoholic sugar water. But when researchers looked into it more, they realized that it wasn't all monkeys across the board who were getting wasted off nicked drinks. The vast majority of these drunken thieves were the equivalent of teenagers, both male and female. But once they get a bit older, they seem to give up the sauce.
Become a productive adult, or society will punish you.
Jorge Juarez of Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico says that this is probably because adult monkeys have more responsibilities in monkey society. They have to keep a clear head so that they are on top of social dynamics, mating rituals, taking care of their young, etc. So, basically the same reasons that human adults cut back.
If monkeys can do it, so can you. Just put down that third beer and go find someone to mate with.
Kathy wrote a very funny book called Funerals to Die For, and you can buy it here. Or follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
For more from Kathy, check out 4 Everyday Things That Caused Huge Panics When They Were New and 4 Things Now Considered Manly (Were Created for Ladies Only).
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.