Saturday, 6 June 2015

Chimps Like Their Potato Hot, But This Says Nothing About Their Skills or About the Origin of Cooking

Chimps might like their potatoes hot, but this does not say anything about our evolution. Image courtesy of Delphine Bruyere, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

After reading the title (Chimps with magic stove show evolutionary capacity for cooking) of a recent interview in New Scientist, one might have jumped to the conclusion that chimpanzees know how to cook their food.

The interviewee, evolutionary anthropologist Felix Warneken of Harvard University, acknowledges that we don’t know how cooking evolved.

Then he goes on to say:

By looking at our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, we have an opportunity to make comparisons with our closest evolutionary ancestors and see whether they might have had the core cognitive skills to cook food. It's almost like we can step into a time machine that can help us better understand our evolutionary past.”

So to test their beliefs, the researchers designed a contraption that was basically ”a magician's box with a simple false bottom where we would put the cooked food.”

They put a piece of a raw potato into the box. When they shook the contraption, a cooked slice of potato appeared.

Given a choice, the chimps preferred their potatoes warm. Some of them were able to resist the temptation of eating their food at once and instead waited for it to be “cooked.”

What does this say about the origin of cooking?

Nothing. Humans made the contraption. They put the cooked potatoes into it. The chimps merely did the shaking, after a human being showed them how to do so. They were actually duped into believing that the box could heat their food.

The experiment does not tell us anything about human evolution, either. It was simply assumed to be true.

A huge genetic and intellectual gap separates chimps from humans.

After all, only humans were created in the image of God.

Evolutionists might not like it, but crows and cockatoos, for instance, are better at using tools than chimpanzees.

This is something that evolution certainly did not predict.


Sukel, Kayt. 2015. Chimps with magic stove show evolutionary capacity for cooking. New Scientist (3 June).