Observations of bonobos in Congo basin foraging in swamps for aquatic herbs rich in iodine, a critical nutrient for mind development and better cognitive abilities, might clarify how the dietary needs of prehistoric people within the area have been met. That is the first report of iodine consumption by a nonhuman primate and it’s revealed within the open entry journal BMC Zoology.
Dr. Gottfried Hohmann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the lead writer of the study stated: “Our results have implications for our understanding of the immigration of prehistoric human populations into the Congo basin. Bonobos as a species will be expected to have similar iodine requirements to people, so our study presents—for the first time—a potential reply on how pre-industrial human migrants could have survived within the Congo basin without synthetic supplementation of iodine.”
The researchers made behavioral observations of two bonobo communities in the LuiKotale forest in Salonga National Park, DRC. These observations were combined with data on the iodine content of plants eaten by bonobos from an ongoing examine by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin. They found that the aquatic herbs consumed by the species are a surprisingly rich natural source of iodine within the Congo basin, an area that was previously thought to be scarce in iodine sources.
The authors caution that without knowledge on the iodine status of wild bonobos, it’s difficult to tell how much iodine they absorb, though, given the high concentrations in the herbs, it’s likely to be substantial. The authors also emphasize that the iodine concentrations obtained on the field website of LuiKotale may not be reflective of the whole Congo basin.