You hear of young children outperforming teenagers, teenagers beating adults but have you heard of chimpanzees outperforming humans? Read on for more!
The Study over Chimps
As per a study, it has been found that young chimps can actually beat adult humans in a task involving remembering numbers. Just when you thought Sharma Ji’s son was the only competition you had! This particular study – conducted by the Kyoto University in Japan – was perhaps the first instance in which chimps outperformed students. That too in a cognitive task.
This test involved three adult female chimps, their three five-year-old offsprings, and twelve university student volunteers. The participants were tested on their ability to memorise numbers ranging from 1 to 9. These figures appeared at random locations on a touchscreen monitor during the test. They were visible on the screen for 210, 430 or 650 milliseconds. Following this, they were replaced with white squares.
Before this, the chimps had been taught the ascending order of numbers. The young chimps were able to memorise the location of the numerals with a better accuracy than humans performing the same task! This was attributed to their using a sort of photographic memory.
Although the adult chimps remembered the location of the numbers in correct order, their performance was either at par or below par compared to humans. The younger chimps, however, outperformed the humans.
They were able to remember the locations with ease. Even at the shortest duration. Such a short time is not enough for the naked eye to be able to move and scan the screen. The research thus suggests that chimps use an eidetic or photographic memory of sorts for such situations.
Even human children possess a kind of photographic memory. It is similar to what the young chimps showed, but it disappears with age. According to Tetsuro Matsuzawa, early humans lose their eidetic memory as we acquire other memory related skills such as representation and hierarchical organisation.
“In the course of evolution we humans lost it, but acquired a new skill of symbolization – in other words, language. We had to lose some function to get a new function.” – Tetsuro Matsuzawa
What This Means
“Observing that other species can outperform us on tasks that we assume we excel at is a bit humbling. Rather than taking such findings as a rare example or a fluke, we should incorporate this knowledge into a mindset that acknowledges that chimpanzees – and probably other species – share aspects of what we think of as uniquely human intelligence.” – anthropologist Jill Pruetz (Iowa State University, Ames, US),
The fact of the scenario is that technically we’re the chimpanzee’s evolutionary neighbours. In fact, studies suggest we’re 98.77% chimp! So such findings shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. This study actually serves as a reminder of the beauty of evolution and how humankind itself has come into existence.
Read also: What is the story of the flying fish?
Chimps Outperformance In Maze Test
In another research, conducted at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, chimps outperformed young human children. Virtual reality mazes were used to study spatial reasoning. All participants could complete the mazes. But, the children’s ability decreased while the chimps were able to rise to the challenge.
Four chimpanzees took part in this study – Lana, Mercury, Panzee, and Sherman. Each had previously experienced computer based research before. Their abilities were compared to sixteen humans – twelve students and four adults from Winchester, England.
Think chimps are dumb and awkward? Well, you might want to reconsider the next to you want to call your friend a chimpanzee for being dumb. For all you know, chimps are smarter than you!