His name is Ayumu, and he’s unbeatable at a memorization game. When he was 5 years old his skills stunned the world. A research paper was published in 2007 reporting his achievements, and now that he is 11 years old it seems that he is at his best, better than any human.
The game consists of a screen displaying a set of numbers, from 1 to 9. The contestant memorizes them within a limited time, after which the numbers are covered with squares. Then he or she needs to touch the squares in the order showed by the numbers. It sounds pretty easy, right? What about if the time you have to memorize the numbers is 60 milliseconds, less than it takes to blink? Well, that is Ayumu’s unbeatable record.
He lives at the Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, along with other primates. His is the son of Ai, a chimp born in 1978 and, according to the Institute, the “the first chimpanzee who learned to use Arabic numerals to label sets of real-life objects with the corresponding number.”
It is believed that chimpanzees share about 94% and 97% of their DNA with humans, and they keep surprising us with their abilities. Also their rights as our closest counterparts keep increasing: on December last year, the US National Institute of Health announced the suspension of all new grants for biomedical and behavioural research on chimpanzees.
Below you can admire Ayumu’s incredible skills.
Inoue, S., & Matsuzawa, T. (2007). Working memory of numerals in chimpanzees Current Biology, 17 (23) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.027