A new study shows that chimpanzees have the cognitive abilities to actually gather, transport and cook their food, preferring cooked food to raw one.
The study conducted by the Yale University Department of Psychology presented the chimpanzees with rudimentary, easy to use cooking cools. In front of these tools they quickly developed ways to use them and given the choice, the chimps would rather postpone instant gratification by eating their food raw in order to indulge in far more attractive cooked alternatives.
The results of the study were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal. They are an indication that our human ancestors possessed the same type of abilities. Given the fact that our ancestors could master fire as well, a page about human behavior and cognitive abilities could be rewritten.
In the study, chimpanzees were not given access to fire, as it is dangerous for the primates to operate with it. Instead, a different set of easily operating devices made the delight of the individuals included in the study.
The entire research consisted of nine different experiments. Firstly, the chimpanzees were given raw and cooked sweet potatoes. The majority lashed on the cooked sweet potatoes, ignoring the raw ones.
The second experiment explored the possibility that the chimpanzees would postpone gratification until their preferred choice is cooked. And it was successful. The chimps do have the patience to wait as long as it takes in order to lavish on cooked meals rather than raw ones.
Experiments three, four and five offered the individuals the opportunity to cook their own food and they both indicated that once the chimps figure out how to use the devices provided, they will cook their food.
During the sixth experiment the sweet potato was exchanged with carrots. The change in dietary elements was directed at observing if the newly discovered skills apply to other foods than what the chimps were initially used to.
Successfully, the chimps chose the carrots and raw potato slices for cooking during the seventh experiment. And they chose to do so in the detriment of the other option, wood chips.
Experiments eight and nine looked at the willingness of the chimpanzees to also gather and transport the raw food in order to be cooked and provide them with yummy meals. This proved successful as well as they seemed more than eager to transport and also store their supplies for later cooking.
Overall, the chimpanzee experiments talk about crucial cognitive abilities that are necessary to uptake cooking.
While humans are the only primates that can control fire and the chimpanzees seem to be yet far from this achievement, it is quite possible that our common ancestor started cooking its own food long before we currently know.
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