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Do Chimpanzees Have a Better Short-Term Memory Than Humans?

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Scientists often talk about how primates are some of the smartest non-human animals, but very rarely do you hear about a species surpassing humans in a intellectual exercise.

A Japanese researcher, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, presented the remarkable capabilities of the chimpanzee Ayumu at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. So, what could Ayumu do that humans couldn’t? When a series of numbers were presented on a screen out of sequence and randomly placed, the chimpanzee was able to remember where the numbers were on the screen, and touch them in the correct sequence to count up from 1.

The Huffington Post reports that scientists expressed sounds of amazement. Matsuzawa replied to their reaction, “Don’t worry, nobody can do it. It’s impossible for you.”

While only a small group of humans, known as savants, can display such good memorization skills, six out of six chimps were able to accomplish the task.

Huffington Post reports that this skill would help them in their natural environment as they navigate through complex arrangements of tree branches and make other split second decisions in the wild.

Will this mental ability help strengthen the case against using animals in research? (Ironic, we know, considering this ability was discovered through research.)

Check out the video and see it firsthand.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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