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Last Updated: Tuesday December 04 2007 09:17 GMT

Chimps have amazing memories

A chimp takes part in a number test

Chimpanzees have amazing memories that are much better than people's, research from Japan has shown.

Young chimps took part in special tests using numbers to see how well they remembered things, and were even better than university students.

They were shown the numbers one to nine on a computer screen and then had to touch them all in the right order.

The chimps were really good at the tests, and now scientists think they could be cleverer than they thought.

Another test showed the chimps numbers and then covered them with white squares on the screen. The test was to touch the squares in the order of the numbers underneath them.

The chimps could do this very quickly.

Dr Matsuzawa and chimps (Image: Matsuzawa)
Dr Matsuzawa and chimps
The scientists think they have photographic memories. That means when they try to remember the order of the numbers they can see them all in their head, just like looking at a photograph.

Humans did badly

Dr Tetsuro Matsuzawa and colleagues tested three pairs of mum and baby chimpanzees against university students.

In most of the tests the humans came last, behind both the chimps and their mums.

"Young chimpanzees have a better memory than human adults," Dr Matsuzawa told BBC News.

The research is published in a science magazine called Current Biology.



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