Bonobos have been spotted doing something interesting in the Congo basin. They are scouring the swamp in search of aquatic herbs that are packed with iodine, a nutrient that is very important for advancing the growth of higher cognitive abilities. That could help scientists understand the nutritional needs and practices of ancient humans. The Bonobo consumption of food rich in iodine is the first-ever recorded by a species other than humans.
“Our results have implications for our understanding of the immigration of prehistoric human populations into the Congo basin,” Dr. Gottfried Hohmann, the lead author of the study comments.
“Bonobos as a species can be expected to have similar iodine requirements to humans, so our study offers—for the first time—a possible answer on how pre-industrial human migrants may have survived in the Congo basin without artificial supplementation of iodine,” the researcher added.
Ancient Humans Dietary Habits Reflected In Bonobo Aquatic Greens Diet
Scientists working on the study have been observing the behavior of separate bonobo communities in the Congo region. The consumption of iodine-rich plants by specific individuals was factored into their observations, something that surprised researchers, due to the will of the primates to actively seek out the particular plants. It was also believed that the region did not have any iodine-rich food sources.
According to Dr. Hohmann, evolutionary theories suggest that early humans have been able to evolve by living in coastal areas. There they could find favorable foods that augmented cerebral functions. Their study suggests that early humans may have triggered their cerebral development by eating some of the same food the Bonobos are consuming now.
Bonobos are not the only species to consume the plants. After this observation, it was reported that some gorillas and chimpanzees also seek out iodine-rich aquatic greens. That proves to be an exciting development, as different primate species are seeking out and finding these essential plants in areas that were believed to be scarce in iodine.