04 December 2007

Ape memory

Japanese researchers have verified that chimpanzees have better memories than we do, outperforming human university students in lab memory tests. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, working mostly with bonobos at the Yerkes Primate Center in Georgia, noted the same thing about them several years ago.

I suspect that much of this actually reflects a difference between literate and illiterate, rather than a difference between species. Literate humans write down everything important; we do not rely on our memories much, so they atrophy. Non-human great apes cannot do this. Anthropologists studying illiterate human cultures have often found that humans in those cultures have astonishingly good memories by our standards.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that, at least in one area, our cousin species are actually our mental superiors.



Blogger BEAST said...

Not sure if this is true, but I have heard of this macabre tale:

There was once a baby elephant whom the keeper particularly disliked: The elephant was physically abused, and subsequently sold.

Many years later, the elephant, now an adult bull male, chances upon the same keeper, whom it recognized despite an aged appearance. The angry bull charged at the keeper and trampled the old keeper to death.


04 December, 2007 04:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Can't say I'd be surprised. Elephants are extraordinary creatures.

04 December, 2007 05:17  
Blogger concerned citizen said...

Your analysis makes sense.

Unfortunately,My memory fails me when I attempt to do higher math. I have no problem understanding concepts but my problem is in remembering all the steps.
I wish there was some way I could improve my memory. Any suggestions?

BTW, in regards to the Storm. I live down the coast a ways. The storm was hyped up way before it got here. schools were closed yesterday, even sections of hiway on 101. It was a bit of an anti-climax.

04 December, 2007 07:02  
Blogger handmaiden said...

BTW, that last comment from concerned citizen is also me. :)

04 December, 2007 07:08  
Blogger Ute said...

After reading the first sentence of your post, I thought exactly what you wrote later. I just don't rely on my memory so much, because I write everything down. Maybe that's worth working on?

04 December, 2007 08:13  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I think of writing as a sort of artificial memory. In some ways it's better then the real thing; it can keep information indefinitely, and is accessible to other people. So I don't know if it's necessarily bad that we rely on it. Kind like how we don't need our ape fur any more, since we have clothes.

Unfortunately I'm not much good at higher math myself -- I could probably do it if I had step-by-step instructions.

Thanks for stopping by, neighbors.

04 December, 2007 08:42  
Blogger Vamp DiVerL said...

I saw this today too. We gave up memory skills to be more audible.

Since my memory is not serving me well, due to older age, I'd almost give up speaking to remember better.

04 December, 2007 16:30  
Blogger John Evo said...

It all should give pause to those who think Homo sapiens are "superior". We certainly are in some respects - the ones that we evolved to be in the environments we were in. In the enviroment that chimps were in, they have evolved traits that are superior to us. Another is physical strength. Pound for pound they have roughly 4 times the arm strength we do.

04 December, 2007 23:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like John Evo's comment about the relativity of superiority. We look at the world so anthropocentrically. That's natural, of course, but we, of all species, have some capacity for at least imagining other perspectives. If we did so more often, we'd probably develop a humbler, more realistic view of our place in cosmos.

05 December, 2007 12:39  

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