Chimpanzees have many cognitive abilities and new research shows that cooking is one of them. So expect a chimpanzee Jamie Oliver to arise among populations, making those female chimps slimmer and healthier and the males more powerful and capable of holding the trophy of leadership in their hairy hands.
If given proper utensils, chimpanzees could easily prepare some delicious dishes for their fellow friends and family. Scientists from Harvard and Yale found that chimps are defined by patience and foresight to resist eating raw food and to place it in a device where they can actually cook it. This is a great achievement, if we come to think that cooking is a particularity only found in human beings that unlike chimps, have reason and conscience.
Researchers add that many primate species encounter great difficulties in giving up food in their possession and also show limitations in their self-control when faced with food. However, the chimps would easily give up a raw slice of sweet potato or whatever else can be found in their habitat, for a cooked slice of sweet potato, hours later. This is called self-control taking over hunger and it’s something we take a bow to.
Human beings started cooking no less than two million years ago, even if evidence shows that actual and progressive cooking, aside attempts, has happened only one million years ago. For that to happen, our ancestors had to offer some great thought to deliver solutions that could turn raw food into processed and easier to digest dishes.
The starting point of cooking has leaded to evolutionary shifts in our biology, with our bodies becoming more refined and our minds learning about patience, progress and alternative ways of living. Everything is stated in a spectacular book, called “Catching Fire: Cooking made us human”, written by Richard Wrangham.
As previous theories state, chimpanzees serve as stand-ins for human ancestors, hypothesis that guided two students who study cognition, directly into a new research on chimpanzee behavior. Findings were revealing of high animal intelligence, as chimps have developed patience and the ability to create and adapt new life and feeding conditions.
However, chimps still don’t know how to use fire, which makes cooking rather delicate. Scientists offered them access to real cooking devices, to present the chimps with “problems that emulate cooking”. They were faced with two plastic cooking bowls closely fitting together, both of which had pre-cooked food hidden in a bottom tub. This way, when a chimp threw in a sweet potato slice into one of the devices, someone shook it and lifted the top tub out to offer back an identical cooked slice of the sweet potato. It seems that the chimps had the patience to wait through the exercise and they could also understand that when something fresh and raw goes into the bowls, it comes back cooked.
Image Source: worldwildlife.org