What’s The Smartest Animal, Or Should We Say Mammal?
To put it bluntly, humans are the smartest animals on Earth – at least by human standards. we are masters at all the tasks we set as indicators of intelligence, and we have used our intelligence to do everything from improving our quality of life as a species and building great societies to achieving scientific advances, such as sending humans to the moon.
Measuring animal intelligence can be difficult because there are so many indicators, such as the ability to learn new things, the ability to solve puzzles, the use of tools and self-awareness. identifying the smartest animals can lead to controversy and some surprises.
It may not seem very intelligent at first glance, but research has shown that some cephalopod species have great curiosity and problem-solving abilities. in one experiment, an octopus figured out how to open the lid of a container to get the tasty morsel inside. in another experiment, an octopus learned to recognize human individuals, reacting positively to a friendly person and ignoring a person who was acting impersonal. individual recognition is a sign of intelligence shared by pigeons.
As one of our closest genetic relatives, it might be assumed that chimpanzees would score high on our intelligence scale, and so they did. In a 2007 study, researchers administered the same cognitive test to adult chimpanzees, adolescent chimpanzees and college students. the test involved seeing nine numbers on a touchscreen for less than one second and then remembering where those numbers were. adult chimpanzees and college students scored almost identically, but adolescent chimpanzees scored higher, recalling number locations with much greater accuracy.
Like octopuses, goats have proven adept at problem solving, especially when their reward is food. in one test, goats had to use their teeth to pull down a rope and then actuate a lever that they had to lift with their mouths. 9 out of a total of 12 goats were able to figure out the mechanism after four tries, and the majority remembered how to operate the device even 10 months later.
Many animals are efficient with tools, including chimpanzees, who often use sticks to remove ants and termite larvae. crows have shown similar abilities, proving smarter than human children in a test. the test involved a cylinder with water in it and a treat floating on top. The cylinder was too thin for a crow to reach with its beak, or for a child to stick its hand in (children were not allowed to use their thumbs). children as young as eight had a very difficult time solving the puzzle, but the crows seemed to instinctively know that adding pebbles to the cylinder would gradually raise the water level until they reached the prize.
Elephants, like many other animals, can learn a variety of complex tasks, but what sets them apart on the intelligence scale is their self-awareness (the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, for example) (many other animals, such as dogs and cats, seem to believe that their reflection is another animal and react accordingly). Elephants are also highly social and compassionate, often working together to solve problems within their herd.
Other animals known for their intelligence include pigs, which can solve mazes and learn a symbolic language; rats, which can make decisions based on what they know and don’t know; and bottlenose dolphins, which have the same degree of self-awareness as elephants.
So it really depends on your criteria to determine which animal is “the smartest”. perhaps a more important question is: do other animals judge our intelligence, and if so, where do we stand?