It’s hard to beat mankind when it comes to entertainment. We have it all – social media, reality TV, memes, action movies, and Fox News to keep us entertained. And when all of that fails, we have drugs and alcohol to help keep things interesting. Try as you may, you can hardly find a species that parties more than we do. Or can you? Fantastic Pest Control has scoured far and wide to find pests that quench their thirst with “nectar of the gods” or “chase the dragon”.
Flies Drink if They Don’t Have Enough Sex
It is not uncommon for humans to drink. We want to celebrate – we drink because we’re happy. We want to forget – we drink to drown those memories. We’re stressed – we drink to take the edge off. Alcohol has become a substitute for many of the things we typically lack. But, as it turns out, it’s not just us.
Scientists get bored sometimes and that boredom gives birth to some of the most brilliant ideas. Like checking to see if flies feel pleasure when they climax the same way we do (spoiler alert: they do). Through some genetic manipulation and dark sorcery, scientists managed to create genetically modified flies. If that sounds terrifying, it is because you’ve seen horror movies and you know what can potentially happen.
The flies’ brains were programmed to release a neuropeptide called corazonin when they were bathed in red light. How do their brains release it naturally? When they ejaculate. So, essentially, scientists simulated fly ejaculation by blasting the insects with red light (you cannot make this up).
After that, they became bored again and decided to see what would happen if flies don’t “get laid” for a long period of time. Part of the flies were hence deprived of red light (their new fetish), essentially limiting the amount of corazonin in their brains. As a result, researchers found, these flies would resort to alcohol to fill the void. Indeed, flies with lower levels of corazonin in their brains are more inclined to developing a drinking problem and quitting their jobs, than flies that have a normal sex life. Who knew?
Rats Like Food but Love Cocaine
Cocaine is the ultimate cliche party drug. “Party” and “cocaine” are synonymous in most movies. It’s one of the most popular and addictive drugs despite its short half-life. Cocaine’s effects peak about half an hour after you ingest it and crash a little bit after that. This leads many people to snort again (by far the most widely used method to ingest it).
Knowing this, it’s not hard to imagine why so many people fall victim to cocaine addiction. It makes the pleasure centres of your brain light up like a Christmas tree. You don’t feel tired, you don’t need to eat, sleep, or perform any other normal physiological functions. It completely bypasses the first level of Maslow’s pyramid. And it can easily kill you, as a result.
Thing is, hunger, drowsiness, fear, feeling too hot or too cold, and every other process cocaine helps you ignore, are there for a reason. And that reason is survival. Without all of this, you will literally die. But when you’re high on cocaine, you don’t much care about that. Which has been proven by rats time and time again.
Because rat brains have a very close to our physiology, scientists often use them as subjects for “what if” scenarios they can’t possibly test on human subjects. So rats often get the short end of the stick. In an experiment to test the effects of cocaine addiction on survival mechanism, researchers hooked rats on cocaine (not a sentence we imagined we would write).
Once they were addicted, the guys in the lab coats allowed them to push a lever and get a treat. One lever would give them food, and another – the pleasurable embrace of the cocaine-induced high. Which one do you think rats prefered? Many of the test subjects developed a taste for the finer things in their, as a result, short lives. However, we still don’t recommend cocaine as an effective form of rat control treatment.
Ants Can Become Morphine Junkies
As it turns out, hedonism is not a strictly mammalian trait. When given the choice between pleasure and survival, most ants would choose pleasure, just like their more advanced lab partners.
In yet another “bored researcher” experiment, scientists hooked ants to morphine to see just how much having some junkies in the colony would affect the rest. Turns out, morphine addicts become quite a liability.
We all know how much ants love sugar. Anyone who has ever spilt sugar in the kitchen and has gotten an ant infestation, as a result, can testify to this. Yet, apparently, they enjoy morphine a little bit more.
In one of the most puzzling experiments to ever grace the pages of a scientific journal, researchers placed sugar in two bowls. They decreased the dose each day, reaching zero at day five. Plot twist – one of the bowls also contained morphine and the dosage didn’t decrease.
As the sugar dosage approached zero, the control group abandoned the now essentially water-flavoured bowl in favour of looking for food elsewhere. However, the ants in the morphine group kept returning to the bowl, showing little interest in survival and only seeking the sweet opioid high in their drug den.
In order to confirm the results, scientists placed two new bowls – one containing only sugar, and one containing morphine. Most of the addicted ants went straight for the morphine, while the rest didn’t much care for it and preferred to be productive members of society.
This only stands to show us addiction is not a uniquely human trait (yes, we’re not that special), but is, in fact, a basic result of evolutionary mechanisms. Drugs and alcohol interfere with the same centres of the brain that are programmed to activate when we do something beneficial for our survival or reproduction. Essentially, on a neurological level, man and beast alike, get fooled by their own brains. This gives a whole new spin to the term “party animal”.