|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 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, how pen-tailed treeshrews benefit from this alcohol ingestion or what consequences of consistent high blood alcohol content might factor into their physiology is unclear.
Taxonomy and evolutionary history
The Ptilocercidae are a family within the order Scandentia. Numerous morphological and genetic differences support the classification of the Ptilocercidae as a separate family from the rest of the treeshrews which diverged around 63 million years ago. Interestingly, treeshrews were considered a close relative of primates, but recent genetic data have concluded that the Dermoptera, not the Ptilocercidae are the appropriate out-group for study of primates.
- 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.
- Cassola, F. (2016). "Ptilocercus lowii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- 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. PMC . PMID 18663222. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801628105. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- "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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