Chimps-photoby-Delphine Bruyere

Give a chimpanzee a banana and he’ll eat for a day, give a chimp an oven, and he might just cook that banana.

A new study by Harvard and Yale researchers found that chimps have the cognitive ability to cook — they just don’t know how.

At an animal sanctuary in the Republic of Congo researchers created a “magic oven” that was really just a gadget with a piece of cooked sweet potato hidden inside. The chimps were given slices of raw sweet potato which they would put into the device. The researchers would then shake it and open the compartment containing the pre-cooked slice. The apes saw raw food go in and cooked food come out.NaotoMatsumuraWithDogsInNuclearZone_FBphotoNaotoMatsumura

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It’s surprising to see any animal willing to give up food when there’s no guarantee they’ll get it back, but this experiment showed the chimps had the ability to grasp the complicated idea of turning raw food into cooked food.

That’s a concept anthropologists argue was crucial to human evolution.

While the chimps didn’t do any cooking themselves, the video below humorously suggests it does show they may be smart enough to go to a restaurant.

(WATCH the video below or READ more at the New York Times) Photo by Delphine Bruyere, CC

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