Apes can remember friends they haven’t seen for over 25 years, a new study shows. That’s longer than a dolphin’s memory. – DNyuz

Apes can remember friends they haven’t seen for over 25 years, a new study shows. That’s longer than a dolphin’s memory.

After a long day, these great apes like to sit down, have some juice, and admire pictures of their old friends.

Perhaps not the most surprising of preferences for an intelligent animal, except that these bonobos and chimps appear to remember old friends from as far back as 26 years, according to research published this week in the journal Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.

The only other animals besides humans who we know have that kind of long-lasting memory are dolphins, who have been shown to recognize acquaintances from 20 years ago.

We’ve always known that these animals were highly social. However, it’s not clear how their memory affects this sociality. “They’re incredible. Business Insider reported that they are very similar to us , in many ways.

The screen, the juice, and the eye-tracking

The scientists had suspected for a while that apes whom they hadn’t seen for years remembered them when they returned, Krupenye said. They wondered how far the social memory of animals could go.

To figure out what the animals remembered, the researchers tested 26 apes from Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, the Kumamoto Sanctuary in Japan, and Planckendael Zoo in Belgium.

In every location, scientists placed a screen outside of the enclosures for the apes to drink fruit juice diluted. This way, they would be relatively still while viewing the images so that the researchers could track their eye movement.

“This seems quite enriching to them. Laura Simone Lewis is a lead author and UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher. She told BI that many of the chimpanzees seemed to enjoy taking part.

Using eye-tracking, the scientists could glean what pictures the apes were staring at for longer — photographs of long-lost friends or strangers. The familiar photos included who had passed away , that had lived with or been transferred to the new group.

They found that the animals spent on average 0. 25 seconds longer staring at photos of apes they used to know than strangers. Scientists interpreted that the scientists spent more time on photos as an indication of remembrance.

“If you didn’t recognise those people in any way, then it would be reasonable to expect them to look at both photos on the screen equally. Krupenye explained.

The scientists also found that the apes looked longer at other apes that they had a positive bond with, as opposed to those they might’ve been in conflict with.

So, Lewis explained, they seemed to have a stronger preference for “what we might call their friends.”

The future for apes

This study isn’t just touching, Krupenye said.

“It’s also the case that apes are extremely endangered and if we aren’t proactively working to conserve them, then we really risk losing the species in our lifetimes,” Krupenye said. Lewis explained that scientists took this into consideration when establishing the study.

They chose to make participation voluntary, not forcing the chimps and bonobos to come up to the screen, but instead just placing it outside their enclosure for them to interact with as they pleased.

It’s important, Lewis added, to be deliberate when working with endangered animals.

As long as the apes are around and well cared for, Lewis said she’s looking forward to all the information we can learn from them.

She said in the future, we might begin to understand more about how apes remember, and whether or not they miss these other animals they no longer see.

” I find it exciting to imagine the future studies. To understand what does their full memory look like.”

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