|Pen-tailed treeshrew range|
Pen-tailed treeshrews are the only known wild mammals that consume alcohol every night. According to a study of treeshrews in Malaysia they spend several hours per night consuming the equivalent of 10 to 12 glasses of wine with an alcohol content of up to 3.8% drinking naturally fermented nectar of the bertam palm. This nectar contains one of the highest alcohol concentrations of all natural foods. Pen-tailed treeshrews frequently consume large amounts of this nectar while showing no signs of intoxication. Measurements of a biomarker of ethanol breakdown suggest that they may be metabolizing it by a pathway that is not used as heavily by humans. Their ability to ingest high amounts of alcohol is hypothesized to have been an evolutionary adaptation in the phylogenic tree. However, it is unclear how pen-tailed treeshrews benefit from this alcohol ingestion or what consequences of consistent high blood alcohol content might factor into their physiology.
Taxonomy and evolutionary history
Ptilocercidae is a family within the order Scandentia. Numerous morphological and genetic differences support the classification of Ptilocercidae as a separate family from the rest of the tree shrews which diverged around 63 million years ago. Interestingly, tree shrews were considered a close relative of primates, but recent genetic data has concluded that Dermoptera, not Ptilocercidae is the appropriate out-group for study of primates.
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- Helgen, K.M. (2005). "Ptilocercus lowii". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Janecka, J. E., Miller, Thomas, W., Pringle, H., Wiens, F., Zitzmann, A., Helgen, K. M., Springer, M. S. and Murphy, W. J. (2007). Molecular and Genomic Data Identify the Closest Living Relative of Primates. Science 318: 792.
- Wiens, F.; Zitzmann, A., Lachance, M.-A., Yegles, M., Pragst, F., Wurst, F. M., von Holst, D., Guan, S. L., Spanagel, R. (2008). "Chronic intake of fermented floral nectar by wild tree-shrews". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (30): 10426–10431. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801628105. PMC 2492458. PMID 18663222. Retrieved 2008-07-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Ptilocercus lowii (Pen-tailed Treeshrew, Pen-tailed Tree Shrew)". www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
- "Science Magazine: Sign In". Retrieved 2015-11-30.
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