Bugs and Brains in Evolution Maybeland

Don't you wish you were there to see Homer Primitive say, "Mmmm...bugs..."?

Scientists studied some wild monkeys for 436 hours (not at one time) to see how they went about getting bugs for food. They used tools (not in the conceptual manner of humans, of course). Some good observational science was happening.

Then it was spoiled by a trip to Maybeland.

Some evolutionary fantasists are coming up with ideas that the desire to eat bugs helped human evolution along. Seeing monkeys foraging for bugs gave rise to speculation that the same desires caused pre-humans with bugs on the brain to have their actual brains grow and change — therefore, evolution. And yet, we know that the brain itself is not the person, the soul, the source of free will. So that makes this speculation even weirder.

Of course, there is no biological precedent, no model, no real science, but that does not stop them from putting forth wild anti-science tales for that grant money. Mmmm....money...
“Challenges associated with finding food have long been recognized as important in shaping evolution of the brain and cognition in primates, including humans,” explains Dr. Amanda Melin, lead author of the study just published in the Journal of Human Evolution. “Our work suggests that digging for insects when food was scarce may have contributed to hominid cognitive evolution and set the stage for advanced tool use.”

Wild capuchin monkeys locate and extricate insect snacks year-round, but when their favorite fruits are out of season, they really put their brains and hands to work filling in the menu with delectable bugs. (Of course, we all know that true bugs are insects with piercing, sucking mouthparts. The study focused on insects in general as well as any other invertebrates the capuchins cared to consume, but in the media the lot are loosely referred to as “bugs,” so we follow the same convention in this news story.) “We find that capuchin monkeys eat embedded insects year-round but intensify their feeding seasonally, during the time that their preferred food—ripe fruit—is less abundant,” Melin says. “These results suggest embedded insects are an important fallback food.”
You can grab a handful of chocolate-covered ants or something else to snack on, and finish reading the article in full context by clicking on "Did Bugs Give Ancestral Primates a Bigger Brain?" Try not to giggle at the "maybe" stuff they present as science.