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Chimps prefer roasted potatoes, hinting at origins of cooking

chimp

Chimps living in an African sanctuary, including this one, participated in experiments indicating to researchers that these animals understand the process of cooking. Eating of cooked food may have begun long before the start of controlled fire use, the investigators speculate.

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Chimpanzees not only understand what it means for food to be cooked but prefer roasted over raw grub. Mental skills needed for cooking may have thus existed 7 million years ago or more, in the last common ancestor of apes and humans, researchers propose June 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Evolution’s first cooks exploited natural fires, they suggest.

In a series of experiments, the team found that chimps often rejected raw potatoes in hand for roasted potatoes available one minute later. Chimps also put raw potatoes and carrots into containers that they had learned were cooking devices while avoiding nonroasting containers. The animals frequently carried raw food across a room to cooking devices. Some chimps even saved food for later cooking opportunities. Mental abilities such as causal reasoning, self-control and planning enabled these behaviors in chimps, as in humans, the scientists contend.

Animals

Parakeets can catch yawns from their neighbors

By Ashley Yeager 5:21pm, June 1, 2015
Humans and dogs aren't the only ones that can pass along a yawn. They appear to be contagious among parakeets, too.
Health,, Physiology

Mice grow a thinner skin during long stays in space

By Meghan Rosen 9:56am, May 28, 2015
Mice that spent three months in space had thinner skin and extra hair growth compared with rodents that were grounded on Earth.
Climate,, Earth

Everest could lose most of its ice by 2100

By Thomas Sumner 6:00am, May 27, 2015
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Planetary Science

NASA picks nine instruments for future mission to Europa

By Christopher Crockett 4:54pm, May 26, 2015
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Genetics,, Science & Society

White House hits pause on editing human germline cells

By Tina Hesman Saey 4:05pm, May 26, 2015
The White House has hit pause, for now, on clinical experiments that could alter the human germ line.
Climate,, Earth

Once-stable Antarctic glaciers are now melting rapidly

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, May 21, 2015
A group of glaciers in Antarctica that were once stable started rapidly melting in 2009, new research shows.
Animals

Crows safeguard sticks to speed future food-finding forays

By Ashley Yeager 8:00am, May 20, 2015
New Caledonian crows safeguard the sticks they use to find food. As the risk of losing the tool increases, the more protective the birds become.
Health

Broken bones heal with young blood, how remains a mystery

By Meghan Rosen 11:00am, May 19, 2015
Blood from young mice rejuvenates bones of elderly mice, but how it works remains a mystery.
Planetary Science

Boulders balance on tiny tips as comet 67P zooms through space

By Christopher Crockett 4:38pm, May 18, 2015
Three boulders on comet 67P resemble balancing rocks that are seen on Earth.
Toxicology,, Health

E-cigarette flavorings may harm lungs

By Beth Mole 3:00pm, May 18, 2015
Certain e-cigarette flavors, such as banana pudding, may damage lung tissue
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