charlton heston was right, the damn dirty apes will kill us all one day

monkey revolution, smart monkeys

Posted on Mon, Dec. 3, 2007

Young Chimp Beats College Students

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Think you're smarter than a fifth-grader? How about a 5-year-old chimp? Japanese researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won.

Because all these college kids are either high on weed or drunk from beer. It's not me who said so. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University seems to think so. Here's what they found:

Weed went up by 5 percent. Not bad. But wait. There's more., also has some statistics about alcohol usage among college kids. Here's what they've published on their website:

So, can you really blame them for losing to a chimp? Drinking can impair your cognitive abilities, up until 30 days. Which means, the braincells that you killed when went on a drinking binge over the weekend has not been regenerated yet. These college kids are probably still hungover when they were pitted against the chimp.

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 5 , have a better performance in a memory task than humans," he said in a statement.

Smart apes? Maybe like Dr Zaius?

dr zaius planet of the apes

Come on, it could happen. Monkeys don't drink. They certainly don't do drugs. They eat organic food. Maybe it could happen like Jay of Jay and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith, you rock, keep making those Jersey Chronicles) sees it:

I look forward to the day that I can shout, "take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

Matsuzawa, a pioneer in studying the mental abilities of chimps, said even he was surprised. He and colleague Sana Inoue report the results in Tuesday's issue of the journal Current Biology.

One memory test included three 5-year-old chimps who'd been taught the order of Arabic numerals 1 through 9, and a dozen human volunteers.

ayumu, the smart monkey

They saw nine numbers displayed on a computer screen. When they touched the first number, the other eight turned into white squares. The test was to touch all these squares in the order of the numbers that used to be there.

Results showed that the chimps, while no more accurate than the people, could do this faster.

Holy shit. That is one smart monkey. How long did the monkey get to learn that stuff? How long did the humans get to learn this Arabic number? If the monkey was trained beforehand, it's not really fair isn't it?

One chimp, Ayumu, did the best. Researchers included him and nine college students in a second test.

This time, five numbers flashed on the screen only briefly before they were replaced by white squares. The challenge, again, was to touch these squares in the proper sequence.

When the numbers were displayed for about seven-tenths of a second, Ayumu and the college students were both able to do this correctly about 80 percent of the time.

But when the numbers were displayed for just four-tenths or two-tenths of a second, the chimp was the champ. The briefer of those times is too short to allow a look around the screen, and in those tests Ayumu still scored about 80 percent, while humans plunged to 40 percent.

That indicates Ayumu was better at taking in the whole pattern of numbers at a glance, the researchers wrote.

I blame cell phones. When you were a kid (when I mean you, I meant those who are in their late 20s or early 30s), when you didn't have cellphones, I bet you could remember all your friends' house phone numbers. Every kid knows that you don't write it down in a book because one day your mom might find it and call you at your friend's place. That is so NOT cool. Plus, you call your friends often enough that you have their numbers memorized, ingrained in that tiny brain of yours.

But when the whole cellphone thing started to pickup, people rely less on their ability to remember stuff but more on their cellphone's address book function. I can honestly tell you, I the only number I can remember now is my home number. Pretty sad.

"It's amazing what this chimpanzee is able to do," said Elizabeth Lonsdorf, director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The center studies the mental abilities of apes, but Lonsdorf didn't participate in the new study.

She admired Ayumu's performance when the numbers flashed only briefly on the screen.

"I just watched the video of that and I can tell you right now, there's no way I can do it," she said. "It's unbelievable. I can't even get the first two (squares)."

I guess someone had too much to drink when she's in med school. Nice.

What's going on here? Even with six months of training, three students failed to catch up to the three young chimps, Matsuzawa said in an e-mail.

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.

Hey, learning Arabic might actually save you someday. Let's say you get kidnapped by Osama and he's strapped you down with an Arabic combination lock with the countdown timer counting down using Arabic numbers...

The other factor is the youth of Ayumu and his peers. The memory for images that's 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. (Ayumu's mom did even worse than the college students).

So the next logical step, Lonsdorf said, is to fix up Ayumu with some real competition on these tests: little kids.


On the Net:

Current Biology:

Chimp research at Kyoto University:

Kyoto University video:

Yes. Like age is really a factor. If the baby monkey kicked our human baby's ass, it would really suck for us. Wait, are they sure it's not really an Arabian chimp they have in captivity? Ayumu sounds a little like an Arabic name. I don't know.

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