Drunk elephants: not just a euphemism for the 2019 Steelers

Published April 29, 2020

First it was a leg­end — drunk ele­phants stam­ped­ing through towns. Then it was debunked in 2005: Elephants can’t con­sume enough ethanol.

Now it’s been de-debunked. (Rebunked?) Anyway, that 2005 debunk­ing was based on the idea that ele­phants metab­o­lize ethanol the same way humans do. Wrong.

Despite those hazy mem­o­ries of sopho­more year, humans are real­ly effi­cient at pro­cess­ing alco­hol thanks to a gene called ADH7. In fact, we can process alco­hol 40 times more effi­cient­ly than ani­mals with­out our ver­sion of ADH7 … like elephants.

It might not be your imagination

The impli­ca­tion of the new study is the anec­do­tal drunk ele­phant sto­ry may not be so apoc­ryphal after all.

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