Can a chimpanzee cook you dinner? It sounds like a sitcom setup, but Alexandra Rosati, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology and anthropology who heads the Cognitive Evolution Group at the University of Michigan, realized the question might reveal clues about the evolution of the human mind.

“Cooking is thought to be a major evolutionary shift in the human species,” Rosati explains. According to the hypothesis proposed by Harvard University primatologist Richard Wrangham, PhD, embracing a cooked diet allowed our pre-Homo sapiens human ancestors to extract more energy from food, thereby growing bigger brains and evolving into the species we are today. But that hypothesis hinges on the idea that cooking was adopted early in human evolution—a theory that remains contested. “We thought that psychology could bring a new line of evidence to this evolutionary idea,” Rosati says.

Read the full article at APA.