Chimps, or the closest relatives to humans, are already capable of much more than we expected. I mean, human DNA is about 98 or 99 percent similar to chimpanzee DNA. S0 it should come as no surprise that chimps are intelligent enough to understand cooking.
Humans are the only creatures to cook their food, but new research shows that chimps have the mental ability to cook and they like to do so when they are given the chance. After a series of experiments using carrots and sweet potatoes, scientists concluded that chimps prefer cooked food over raw food.
The study, which was published in the journal Scientific American, revealed that the chimps had access to a “cooking tool.” This was actually just a container that was used to replace raw sweet potato slices with cooked ones. The researchers reported that chimps were patient enough to wait on the food to “cook” before eating it.
Researcher Alexander Rosati claimed that he was “amazed” the chimps wanted to bring the food to the “cooker.” At first Rosati and the other researchers thought one chimp was a “genius.” Eventually, “half of them did it,” Rosati said.
The Yale University scientists explained that chimps, along with humans, possess the self-control, anticipatory planning and casual reasoning that are required to cook, according to New Zealand Herald. So what stops them from cooking? Fire.
Apparently, chimps cannot control fire. Other than this obvious reason, some researchers told BBC that they could also be lacking the “social skills” to cook their food. In other words, they do not trust that their food will be safe if it is not eaten immediately. They added that trust is a component that makes cooking become a practice.
The New York Times reported that the study was inspired by the theory that cooking played an important role in human evolution, according to USA Today. The results of the study suggest that mental skills needed to cook were developed early in human evolution, or before humans and chimps split.
Cooking could be the reason why our ancestors wanted to learn how to control fire. Sure it is great for light and heat, but what about cooking? Could the desire to cook be the reason our ancestors were motivated to master fire?