"What is particularly interesting about cooking is it's something we all do, but it involves a number of capacities that, even without the context of cooking, are thought to be uniquely human. That is why we wanted to study this in chimpanzees,"  explained Felix Warneken from Harvard University.

To get at those questions, the researchers travelled to the Jane Goodall Institute's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Republic of Congo in the summer of 2011.They conducted a series of experiments using wild-born chimpanzees to test whether they were capable of making the mental leaps necessary for cooking.

The researchers found that a number of chimps, when given a raw piece of potato, chose to essentially cook it by placing it in the 'cooking device' and receiving a cooked piece of food in return.

"The first time one of the chimps did this, I was just amazed," study co-author Alexandra Rosati from Yale University said."I really had not anticipated it. When one of them did it, we thought maybe this one chimp is just a genius, but eventually about half of them did it,"  Rosati pointed out.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.



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