Sometimes a particular smell, flavor or other sensory cue can trigger a flood of distant memories. New research shows chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities for this kind of episodic memory — they're able to accurately recall an event that happened three years prior. The results suggest, once again, that we're just not as unique as we think we are.
Over the years, a lot of work has gone into studying the remarkable memory of our primate relatives. For example, a recent video shown at the 179th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science demonstrated that chimpanzees have a far greater working memory — which is used to temporarily hold and manipulate information — than we do. In the video, chimps are able to recall the exact sequence and location of numbers that flash on a screen.