Fruit is so good that scientists think it may make chimps smarter.
“Chimpanzees remember the exact location of all their favorite fruit trees,” wrote Matt Walker on Earth News (A BBC.com website). “Their spatial memory is so precise that they can find a single tree among more than 12,000 others within a patch of forest.” He cited a joint Ivory Coast-German study that mapped more than 12,000 trees around the Tai National Park in Ivory Coast. Researchers found that chimps not only can find a single tree but can also remember which trees are in season and which trees are the best fruit producers.
The study noted that chimps seemed to have favorite trees depending on the season. For example, when the coula nuts are in season, chimpanzees will spend hours cracking the nuts with tools, and when the Sacoglottis fruit is ripe, they spend hours pressing them for juice. Who said Slow Food started with humans?
Walker notes that a theory known as the “ecological hypothesis” proposes that the need to remember and find food resources, such as fruit trees, could have driven the evolution of primate brains. A preference for fruit-eating, or frugivory, might lead to more intelligence compared to leaf-eating, or foliovory because the fruit is harder to find. So precise “mapping” of fruit trees could be an indication of ape intelligence.
And all you had to do was call The FruitGuys. Does anyone know how to translate 1-877-Fruit-Me into Chimpanzee?
Meet your inner fruit chimp and be as frugivorous as you like. Find out exactly what’s in your box by region on our In the Mix page.
Enjoy and be fruitful! – Chris Mittelstaedt