A 22-year-old chimpanzee named Panzee was found to significantly outperform all the children and several adult humans in navigating the most difficult maze to the end in the fewest number of virtual steps.
The study proposes that the chimps' surprising skills in playing the video game likely reflect those instincts they honed in their native habitat, like in using natural landmarks to keep themselves oriented while foraging for food.
But before any curious gamers try to bushwhack through the jungles of Africa with a Playstation in hand, researchers note that the chimp participants were already familiar with computer interfaces from previous studies on cognition. Wild chimps, though capable navigators, would certainly fair poorly in a game of Halo.
Still, the human players were not always above trying to sneak an unfair advantage over their chimpanzee competitors, says study author Francine Dolins.
"If the humans would ask me for answers, I would tell them, ‘I can't give the chimps answers."