How Smart are Chimpanzees? Ask Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa! (In Japanese)    Part 2
 
How Smart are Chimpanzees? Ask Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa! (In Japanese)  Part 2
Part 1 Play with windows media
Part 2 Play with windows media
Today’s Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants will be presented in Japanese, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Graceful viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today’s show is the first in a two-part series where we explore the intelligence of chimpanzees and their sophisticated social structures with Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, director of Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute in Inuyama City, Japan.

He has spent over three decades studying wild chimpanzees and made significant discoveries regarding their abilities and skills. He has published many books and papers based on his findings. Dr. Matsuzawa is also known for pioneering a new field of research called “comparative cognitive science” which involves studying chimpanzees for clues as to how human intelligence and behavior evolved over time.

The chimpanzee is the most intimate being, and can be called an evolutionary neighbor for a man. If we can understand a chimpanzee well, we can also understand animals other than human beings.

For his important research work on chimpanzees, Dr. Matsuzawa received the Prince Chichibu Memorial Science Award in 1991, the Jane Goodall Award in 2001, and the Medal with a Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 2004. Let us now learn more about his study of these primates in Africa.

We hear that you go to Africa every year. And you are also studying the social behavior of wild chimpanzees. First of all, please explain to us their family structure and how they live in the forests.

Chimpanzees live only in Africa. They exist nowhere else but the equatorial forests of Africa and areas of savanna surrounded by these forests. Their habitats are distributed widely from Tanzania in the east to Guinea or Senegal in the west. Their family or their society is mostly made up of tens of chimpanzees or sometimes over a hundred. So they live together in groups.

The group consists of multiple male and female adult chimpanzees, and of course their children. Male baby chimpanzees stay among the group all their lives. But female chimpanzees leave the group or transfer to the next or nearby group whenever they reach adulthood or enter puberty and are ready to give birth. We call it a paternal society meaning a society built on fathers.

We are beings with 98.8 % the same genome. Our common ancestor existed maybe about six million years ago. But since about six million years ago, a man evolved into a man, and a chimpanzee evolved into a chimpanzee.

Similar to human beings, chimpanzees living in different areas may experience unique conditions and surroundings and thus acquire specialized or different knowledge and skills. Scientists also believe that the development of some abilities are not connected with the environment and are culturally learned behaviors. For example the chimps living in Bossou, Guinea in Western Africa, like their counterparts living in other places, use leaves to quench their thirst by placing them inside a tree hole and letting them soak up the water inside.

However only the Bossou chimpanzees have been seen folding the leaf in their mouth to create a small vessel and then placing the tool into the water source. Other behaviors thought unique to the Bossou chimps include feeding on algae by skimming the surface of ponds using the stem of a fern or other plant and then placing the stem in their mouth.

We hear that a chimpanzee is intelligent enough to use tools like a man. Would you enlighten us with what kind of tools they are using and what for with an example? v Chimpanzees are known for using various kinds of tools, but the important thing is that they use a unique tool based on their own cultural heritage that vary according to each area. For example, what I have been studying is chimpanzees living around a small village called Bossou in Guinea, Western Africa. They use a set of stones: one as a base and the other as a hammer to crack hard seeds of palm trees.

This is a palm. Press it a little, won’t you? (Yes.) It’s hard, isn‘t it? We cannot eat it like this. But when cracked, open, seeds or nuts like almonds are inside. Chimpanzees crack the hull using a hammer and a base and then eat the nuts. These are the tools that they are actually using: a hammer and a base. They get on a stone or a base like this. This is a stone hammer. They have been using it again and again for generations, so there is a dent on the surface. This stone is heavy. Just check the weight.

Oh, it’s heavy, isn’t it? I notice the dent on the surface.

They crack the hull and take the nuts out and eat it. This is the most famous tool used by chimpanzees in Bossou.

A team of archaeologists led by Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary in Canada found stone hammers used by chimpanzees living 4,300 years ago in an area that is now a part of the modern-day African nation of Cote-d'Ivoire. Their research concluded that the practice of using these tools to crack nuts was not the result of imitating humans, but rather something independently discovered by the primates, with the knowledge then being passed down through the generations to the present day.

This palm seed doesn’t seem edible by itself. Nobody knows we can eat the inside and that there are nuts inside. But when parent chimpanzees are cracking the hull, baby chimpanzees stare at it, and the knowledge that “there are nuts inside this seed, and when cracked by using a set of stones: a hammer and a base, the nuts inside are edible” as well as the technique itself has been passed to children from their parents for generations.

And what is interesting is that parents do not teach, they just show how to do it. Child chimpanzees watch and learn by observing. We call this “without teaching” or “learning by watching.” In English it is called “education by master- apprenticeship.” This is a way of learning where a student or an apprentice views how a mother or a master is doing something for a long period of time and learns it by watching.

Active teaching means teaching by using hands and directing by oral language. There is no active teaching among chimpanzees.

So I think in the case of transmitting traditional skills to successors or for posterity, “education by a master” or apprenticeship, what these chimpanzees are doing, is probably the most basic form of transmitting traditions for posterity.

Through his research, Dr. Matsuzawa also found that wild chimpanzees living in Bassou have learned to recognize and deactivate complex snare traps set by humans without injury. This behavior has kept the Bassou population relatively safe from these hazards. In other chimpanzee communities where this knowledge is lacking, sadly some members have been severely hurt by the traps.

Our research group has just recently reported that chimpanzees can dismantle traps set up by humans.

The trap is not set up for a chimpanzee, but for a smaller animal like a rat. There are snare traps to catch them throughout Africa. A looped wire is wound on the end of a bowed stick, and when a small animal steps on the stick, its spring makes the wire bind tightly around the object. A hand or a leg of a chimpanzee is trapped by such a snare trap. And the snare trap used to be made of a vine, so even if a chimpanzee was trapped, escape was possible.

But nowadays it is made of a wire, thus it won’t decompose. Chimpanzees keep losing fingers or toes because of tightly binding traps. These incidents have been happening all over Africa. Chimpanzees of Bossou know the shape of a snare trap, and adult chimpanzees smash down the trap because the knowledge and skill to dismantle the trap have been transmitted for generations just as in the case of transmission of tradition and culture.

As I have mentioned before, cultural tradition varies according to regions, and a child watches and imitates what parents are doing. You can consider the behavior of dismantling a trap as a variation of using various kinds of tools.

Wow, how smart they are! Our admiring big hug, sweet and clever chimps! And our gratitude Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, for sharing your insightful research that is helping many more people appreciate the intelligent and loving nature of our chimpanzee friends and other animals as well.

Lovely viewers, please join us again next Thursday on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants when Dr. Matsuzawa will introduce more of his fascinating findings as we further explore the beautiful emotional and intellectual worlds of chimpanzees.

For more details on Dr. Matsuzawa, please visit

We enjoyed your company today on our program. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May Earth’s inhabitants always live with love and respect for each other.
Today’s Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants will be presented in Japanese, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Beautiful viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today’s show is the final part of a two-part series where we explore the intelligence of chimpanzees and their sophisticated social structures with Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, director of Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute in Inuyama City, Japan. He has spent over three decades studying wild chimpanzees and made significant discoveries regarding their abilities and skills. He has published many books and papers based on his findings.

For his important research work on chimpanzees, Dr. Matsuzawa received the Prince Chichibu Memorial Science Award in 1991, the Jane Goodall Award in 2001, and the Medal with a Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 2004. In his exploration of chimp intellect, Dr. Matsuzawa has worked extensively with two chimpanzees- Ai and her son Ayumu.

Two main assignments are given to them. One assignment is to learn numbers. They understand numbers or Arabic numbers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9. We taught them the numbers 1 to 9 first. And now we are trying to teach them 1 to 19. If I’m not mistaken, their lesson for today is to learn from 1 to 13 or so. And sometimes the numbers 18 and 19 also appear on screen. Just now you have watched how Ai and Ayumu learned the numbers 1 to 19 quite well. The highlight of this study is using numbers in research on memory.

Who is better when it comes to memorizing numbers – a human or a chimpanzee? When there’s barely enough time for the human eye to scan the numbers on a computer screen, chimps are able to quickly memorize the numbers and their location with higher accuracy than humans.

Our study has revealed that a chimpanzee has a better memory than a man does. To be more precise, seven figures appear on the computer screen. Like 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9. 3 and 6 are skipped. We show numbers between 1 and 9, with two numbers skipped, and let them touch the smallest number, for example, 1. Then, the other six numbers all change into white tetragons.

This is quite difficult. It takes about 0.6 seconds for Ayumu to touch the first one after he says, “Please give me a question.” It means that in a moment he memorizes the number that appears on screen for only 0.6 seconds and where it was located. You must have realized that a chimpanzee has a very good memory since you have seen it with your own eyes. Right? I think this study is probably the world’s first example proven scientifically and objectively that a baby chimpanzee has a better memory than a human child does.

Besides understanding numbers, Dr. Matsuzawa has found that chimps are able to learn how to read as well.

The other lesson for Ai and Ayumu that we showed you was their learning of colors and Chinese characters. This lesson is to choose the Chinese characters signifying the color they saw among 10 characters. For example, if they see red, they should choose the Chinese character meaning the color red. Vice versa, if they see the Chinese character for blue, they should choose blue among 10 different colors. This is also a lesson using a PC. It has demonstrated that a chimpanzee can learn and identify colors in terms of letters and decode letters and understand the meanings.

Over the years Dr. Matsuzawa has spent much time with chimpanzees, and thus has developed a deep affection for these loving beings. He is able to express ideas to them and interpret their response.

We communicate in the following two ways. When we enter a chimpanzee’s room, we talk to him or her in our human way. For instance, I say, “Sit.” and “Open your mouth,” by using gestures and signs. I might use Japanese sign language, or American sign language. Furthermore, I might use spoken language. So I use our full range of communication methods. But all are done by a human's way of communicating. I communicate my intentions by indicating by gestures or voice or spoken words.

And another way is a chimpanzee’s expression and utterance. Therefore, I vocalize "Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah" to tell them my joy. Their voice "Oh ho Oh ho Oh ho Oh ho” is saying "Hey!" When there was a commotion outside among chimpanzees just now, I was shouting “Oh ho!” towards the chimpanzees outside, and Ai was responding to me. By communicating their way, I became a chimpanzee. I sometimes communicate with a chimpanzee by thinking and acting as a chimpanzee.

To sum up, I might communicate with chimpanzees by the human way, or I might become a chimpanzee and communicate a chimpanzee's way. If you want to nurture a close relationship, you cannot help building up such communication day after day. When you meet chimpanzees every day, and that continues for one month, one year, 10 years, and then 30 years, it is quite natural to become close with them.

The bright chimps are highly sociable and affectionate beings who treasure their family and friends dearly. Even though chimpanzees live in a paternal society, the mother-child relationship is very close and deep emotions such as caring and sympathizing have been clearly observed by researchers.

One of the most impressive things that sticks in my mind is that the tie between mother and child is very strong. Concerning a chimpanzee’s child-raising, the mother wholeheartedly brings up her child until the child becomes five or six years old, and then starts to give birth to the next child. Therefore, I think that the bonds between parents and their child are very strong. A chimpanzee's mother never scolds her child. She never scolds, nor beats, nor ignores her child, nor treats her child roughly. The child can no longer live if treated like that.

On the basis of the security or dependence, the child can gradually part from the mother, and become close with companions of other groups. The safe base from which to explore the outer world - that is the role of the mother. I think that is how the mother shows her affection toward her child, and how love grows between the mother and her child. I think it’s splendid and beautiful.

Many spiritual traditions teach that it is best to live in the present moment and not to concentrate on the past or the future as this can create anxiety or unhappiness for us. From his research Dr. Matsuzawa has found that chimps can adapt to highly challenging situations and still maintain a present-focused attitude.

Chimpanzees never change when healthy or sick. Of course they are certainly sick, so they might suffer sometimes. We have a chimpanzee who is currently flat on his back. This chimpanzee has lost weight, and is unable to change position, thus causing bad bedsores. I could hardly bear it if I were this chimpanzee in this situation. But this one does not seem particularly depressed. This chimpanzee was mischievous in childhood, and used to sip water and then spit it out. There was no change in the mischievous character.

In that sense, I think chimpanzees definitely do not get depressed about tomorrow. Moreover, they do not think about the week ahead or how their future lives will be, but they just place importance on the reality that they are living here and now. I think chimpanzees are such beings by nature. They are just what they are. Chimpanzees never give in to despair. Because they are just living in the here and now.

Sadly chimpanzees are an endangered species as harmful human actions have led their numbers to drastically decline in recent times.

It was estimated that at least one million chimpanzees were alive in Africa about 100 years ago. The number one million was calculated by using statistics of habitat density: how many chimpanzees populate how wide an area, and to what extent the forests remain. As you can understand, the fundamental issue is that their homes which are forests have been disappearing day by day. Because of it, their habitats have been shrinking more and more, and now there are only about 0.2 million chimpanzees.

The biggest problem is shrinkage of forests. One reason is that humans have been cutting trees. We cut trees to produce paper. Another is to make farmland by cutting down trees in forests. As population expands, slash-and-burn agriculture increases. Either way, this is the biggest issue causing deforestation.

The second problem is poaching. Those who live in tropical forests of Africa hunt animals with guns for food and chimpanzees are their food. The third problem is disease. For example, diseases such as polio, Ebola, and AIDS are shared between humans and chimpanzees via each infection route. So human disease can infect chimpanzees and it can be fatal. To sum up, deforestation, poaching, and diseases: all these human activities are making the number of wild chimpanzees decrease.

To help save these vanishing primates, Dr. Matsuzawa deeply desires that his research changes people’s hearts so that humankind recognizes that all sentient beings are family and thus deserve our protection.

Let’s stop the dichotomy of a human and an animal. It is evident that a man is not a plant, but an animal. There is no special animal named man, but we are a kind of the same animal. Each animal is leading a different life respectively. We have come to understand that all living things are made of all genetic codes composed of four bases of A, T, G, C: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. It has been only 10 years since this was discovered.

What surprised researchers and scientists is the finding that 40% of the rice plant genes are the same as human genes. In particular, we have not so many genes compared to other beings. Nor are our genes particularly complex. Human genes look entirely like that of other living things and chimpanzees and even the rice plants.

Therefore, it has been several years since we came to truly understand the reality of ties in life and the scientific basis. Just like there is such an understanding about humans as “We are all the same beings, or the same humans,” similarly there is the understanding that “Each living thing itself is interconnected.” “To understand living things apart from the vision of the world centering on humans” might be the most important message from this study on chimpanzees.

Many thanks Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa for showing the world the many fundamental similarities between humans and chimpanzees. We pray that through realizing the high intelligence of our primate cousins, humanity will soon truly treasure and preserve their lives and as well as those of all of the other magnificent animals on our planet.

For more details on Dr. Matsuzawa, please visit

Peaceful viewers, we enjoyed your company today on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May your life be blessed by nobility and kindness.
Graceful viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today's show is the first in a two-part series where we explore the intelligence of chimpanzees and their sophisticated social structures with Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, director of Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute in Inuyama City, Japan.

He has spent over three decades studying wild chimpanzees and made significant discoveries regarding their abilities and skills. He has published many books and papers based on his findings. Dr. Matsuzawa is also known for pioneering a new field of research called 『comparative cognitive science』 which involves studying chimpanzees for clues as to how human intelligence and behavior evolved over time. 

Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa (m): The chimpanzee is the most intimate being, and can be called an evolutionary neighbor for a man. If we can understand a chimpanzee well, we can also understand animals other than human beings.

HOST: For his important research work on chimpanzees, Dr. Matsuzawa received the Prince Chichibu Memorial Science Award in 1991, the Jane Goodall Award in 2001, and the Medal with a Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 2004. Let us now learn more about his study of these primates in Africa.

Supreme Master TV (f): We hear that you go to Africa every year. And you are also studying the social behavior of wild chimpanzees. First of all, please explain to us their family structure and how they live in the forests.

Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa (m): Chimpanzees live only in Africa. They exist nowhere else but the equatorial forests of Africa and areas of savanna surrounded by these forests. Their habitats are distributed widely from Tanzania in the east to Guinea or Senegal in the west. Their family or their society is mostly made up of tens of chimpanzees or sometimes over a hundred. So they live together in groups. The group consists of multiple male and female adult chimpanzees, and of course their children.

Male baby chimpanzees stay among the group all their lives. But female chimpanzees leave the group or transfer to the next or nearby group whenever they reach adulthood or enter puberty and are ready to give birth. We call it a paternal society meaning a society built on fathers.

For more details on Dr. Matsuzawa, please visit www.PRI.kyoto-u.ac.jp
email to friend E-mail this to a Friend