Chimpanzee Memories: Human’s Closest Relative Recalls Distant Past Events With Remarkable Accuracy, New Study Shows [VIDEO]
Chimpanzee memories are more accurate than scientists previously believed, a new study says. Researchers in Denmark have discovered that chimps and orangutans recall distant past events with remarkable precision. Scientists suggest that the new findings on chimpanzee memories prove human memory isn't as special as we'd like to think it is.
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"I think [the study] tells us that our memory systems are not unique," chimpanzee memories study co-author Gema Martin-Ordas, a postdoctoral researcher, told National Geographic. "This is really impressive."
The chimpanzee memories study, published yesterday in Current Biology, looked at how chimpanzees and orangutans responded to sensory cues relating to events they had experiences in the past. The team of researchers from the Aarhus University Center on Autobiographical Memory Research in Denmark had chimps look for tools that the scientists had hidden in boxes. One box contained useless tools, the other, useful ones. To get a reward, the animals had to choose the box with the useful tools in it.
When the researchers performed the same experiment three years later, the chimpanzees did not hesitate in going to the same spot where the tools had been hidden before. The study of chimpanzee memories proves that the animal can recall past events with remarkable accuracy, an accomplishment scientists use to think only humans could do.
According to BBC, almost 90 percent of the apes tested in the experiment remembered where the correct tools were located almost immediately.
"It has been well established in humans that sensory cues like songs and smells can help transport our minds back to the past," BBC reports. Looks like our closest animal relative can do the same.
"Our data, and other emerging evidence, keep challenging the idea of non-human animals being stuck in time," Martin-Ordas told the BBC. "We show not only that chimpanzees and orangutans remember events that happened two weeks or three years ago, but also that they can remember them even when they are not expecting to have to recall those events at a later time."
This video, uploaded to YouTube, shows an earlier study of chimpanzee short-term memory in Japan:
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