Image of the Day: Side Salad

Bonobos eat their aquatic greens, perhaps to get their daily dose of iodine.

Jul 2, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou
A bonobo holding aquatic plants
ZANA CLAY/LUIKOTALE BONOBO PROJECT

Bonobos get iodine from eating aquatic plants such as Nymphaea lotus that they find in water bodies and swamps, scientists report in BMC Zoology on July 1. The Congo basin is an area that is considered to be iodine-deficient in terms of human needs, according to the report, and determining where bonobos get their iodine could give clues as to how ancient humans were able to get a nutritionally complete diet in this region. 

The researchers observed bonobos in the LuiKotale forest in Salonga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo to see what they ate. Chemical analyses of several types of greens in their diet showed that the aquatic plants contained enough iodine for the bonobos to get a healthy amount.

G. Hohmann et al., “Fishing for iodine: what aquatic foraging by bonobos tells us about human evolution,” BMC Zoology, doi:10.1186/s40850-019-0043-z, 2019.