Two chimpanzees cooperate to choose the numbers shown on the monitor in ascending order. (Provided by Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute)

KYOTO--Two heads are better than one, including at times when chimpanzees are faced with a pressing problem.

Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a distinguished professor of comparative cognitive science at Kyoto University, and his colleagues found that chimpanzees are able to work together to achieve a common goal.

The scientists trained the apes to touch the numbers 1 to 8 in ascending order with hands shown on a monitor. The test was designed to determine if two chimpanzees could cooperate to complete the task.

A transparent panel was set up between the two apes. The chimpanzees could view the other half of the screen on their partner’s side as well as their partner’s hand movements. But they were only allowed to touch the numbers shown on their own side as the monitor was separated by the panel.

In the experiment, for example, one chimp touched 1 and the partner on the other side of the screen selected 2 and 3.

The researchers had three pairs of chimpanzees play the game on 2,000 occasions. They succeeded 71.8 percent of the time.

“The findings showed they (chimpanzees) have an excellent ability to observe others’ behavior and work together in a coordinated manner,” Matsuzawa said.

All three pairs comprised a mother and child. But Matsuzawa said the apes will likely be able to cooperate even if they are not in a parent-child relationship.

The results of the study were published in the British scientific journal Scientific Reports on Nov. 1.