It is already known that chimps would rather eat cooked food, but according to a news study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B it seems that the animals would even be able to cook the food themselves if they had the chance.
For the study the researchers used a cooking device like a plastic lunchbox. The chimps were supposed to press a false button which would turn the raw potato inside the box into cooked slice potato. Scientists have always considered the transition from raw to cooked food an important step in evolution.
The findings indicate that in 90% of the cases the animals chose the cooked potato. Moreover even when they had to wait for the potato to be cooked they still chose it in 60% of the cases. The chimps were even capable of distinguishing and did not place a cooked potato into the cooker, but only the raw potatoes. The experiment was conducted on the chimpanzees from the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary at the Jane Goodall Institute (Democratic Republic of Congo).
Psychologist Felix Warneken from Harvard University, co-author of the study, remarked:
“The logic is that if we see something in chimpanzees’ behavior, our common ancestor may have possessed these traits as well. If our closest evolutionary relative possesses these skills, it suggests that once early humans wearable to use and control fire they could also use it for cooking.”
In some instances the chips were even willing to carry the raw potato for a short distance in order for it to be cooked. Another author of the study, psychologist Alexandra Rosati from Yale University, explained that the chimps sometimes tried to carry the potato with their mouth, but on their way they accidentally almost ate them. However half of the animals were able to refrain from eating many raw chimps and instead waited to gather a pile of potato slices and wait for them to be cooked. Warneken explained that chimpanzees usually eat whatever food they receive immediately so it was remarkable to notice this behavior.
The findings of the study suggest that a series of the fundamental psychological abilities required for cooking were also present in the last common ancestor of humans and apes. According to Rosati this implies that even before they could control fire humans and their ancestors already understood how beneficial it was to put food on fire.
Image Source: American Squirm