Inhuman Cognition

Just watch what this chimp is doing. The task seems deceptively simple until you realize what a cognitive feat she's performing.

Presented with a field of numbers for no more than a half second, the chimp is memorizing their locations and tapping the hidden squares in sequential order. Many animals possess perceptual abilities that far exceed human senses, but this is a cognitive task that would be exceptionally difficult for most humans. In one specific sense, this chimp is "smarter" than most of us.

I'm fascinated by the question of why chimps would surpass human beings in this context. This test must tap into an ability that's useful in the wild. What selective advantage would this ability confer that wasn't part of the human evolutionary path?