Japanese researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in two tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won.
That challenges the belief of many people, including many scientists, that "humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions," said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University.
"No one can imagine that chimpanzees - young chimpanzees at the age of five - have a better performance in a memory task than humans," he said in a statement.
Even with six months of training, three students failed to catch up to the three young chimps, Matsuzawa said in an email.
He thinks two factors gave his chimps the edge. For one thing, he believes human ancestors gave up much of this skill over evolutionary time to make room in the brain for gaining language abilities.
The other factor is the youth of Ayuma and his peers. The memory for images that is needed for the tests resembles a skill found in children, but which dissipates with age. In fact, the young chimps performed better than older chimps in the new study.
Source: The Age
Tags: Chimp | Chimpanzees | Memory | Test