Chimpanzees Might Actually Have Cooking Skills, New Study Suggests

Inside every chimp might be a budding chef, just waiting for the right opportunity to show off his culinary skills.

While it’s long been known that chimps prefer cooked food when given the option, a new study goes even further, showing how chimps may have the patience, planning ability and understanding needed to do the cooking themselves if given the opportunity.

For the study, published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers created a “cooking” device, which was really just a bowl with a false bottom and a cooked potato slice inside. As far as the chimps knew, however, a raw potato would go inside the device, and after a short wait — while the researchers “cooked” the tuber (by shaking it) — it would emerge as a cooked potato slice.

In a series of experiments, chimps at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo would routinely put their raw potato slice into the cooker and wait for cooked potato, according to the study.

Even when given the option, the chimps wouldn’t put a cooked potato or non-food item into the cooker; only raw potato.

In some cases, the animals were not only willing to delay the gratification of eating to get a cooked potato instead of a raw one, but they were even willing to carry the potato over a short distance to be cooked.

They didn’t always make it to the cooker, however.

“They’d often try to carry it with their mouth, because chimpanzees are knuckle walkers, and you’d almost see them accidentally eat the food on their way over, almost like ‘oops’ they couldn’t even resist, because they were carrying the food in their mouth,” Yale psychologist Alexandra Rosati, one of the authors —> Read More