Researchers tested a group of Guinea baboons in a specially built facility at the Aix-Marseille University in France.
The study revealed that after being trained, the animals were able to recognize words after seeing them once and differentiate between right and wrong words.
"The baboons aren't reading; they don't attach any meaning to the words other than recognizing shapes," said the psychologist Jonathan Grainger of France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), who led the study.
He noted that the significant point of the study is that baboons could recognize the right ones and ones close to the right ones as well.
Researchers also found that baboons mistook visually similar non-words for purposed words in the same popular pattern among human readers.
"The really striking result is that baboons could distinguish, in a statistical sense, not only words from non-words but (they) saw them the way that human English readers do as well," said neuroscientist Charles Connor of the Mind-Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The finding supports one of the keys to human reading as kids learn the sounds of their ABCs before learning to read while recognizing word shapes and lengths can play a stronger role in literacy than earlier suspected.
"Obviously, this is just part of the story when it comes to really learning to read," said Grainger. "We still have to teach kids what sounds go with each letter."