The Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 71, June 2014 recently published an intriguing article focused on eating insects titled, “Seasonality, extractive foraging and the evolution of primate sensorimotor intelligence.” While there is not an extensive fossil record of insect hunting, there are many cultures worldwide that continue to eat insects in all forms such as agave worm, honeypot ants, crickets, cricket flour, monpane worm, and more. Throughout the development and evolution of both primates and humans, the quest for food has shaped developmental changes in the brain and cognitive processes.
In the Journal of Human Evolution, the article authors studied the behavior of capuchin monkeys to focus on the impact of fallback food on their evolution. While the capuchin monkeys eat insects year round, their feeding increases significantly when other sources of food become seasonally scarce.
Hunting insects rewards the capuchin monkeys with fat and protein, and requires specific skills to utilized tools and cognitive processes to access the embedded insects. These crucial skills become a selective pressure on the evolution of individuals, and is a suggested theory behind the increased development and evolution in capuchins monkeys and humans.
To read the article in full from the Journal of Human Evolution titled, “Seasonality, extractive foraging and the evolution of primate sensorimotor intelligence,” click here.