Humans are not the only intelligent animals on Earth – of course, we are a species of highly intelligent primates, but it doesn’t mean that there are no other creatures nearly as smart as us. However, the truth is that there are some species of animals that are really good at doing extraordinary things, such as using various tools to survive or to create their nests, with advanced cognitive skills, solving different problems and so on.
The animal world is full of surprises and amazing creatures that prove that our planet is wonderful and that Mother Nature truly works miracles. When it comes to their intelligence, it’s almost impossible to create just a small list, because, in fact, all animal species have certain cognitive abilities to survive and resist this world.
In addition, every researcher defines the intelligence of animals in different ways and measures it accordingly, for example, some animals are considered intelligent because they catch their prey in a – let’s say – strange way, while others are appreciated for their ability to recognize human faces or to execute various commands.
Also, when measuring their intelligence, many researchers tend to look for human characteristics in them, which can be problematic and tricky as this doesn’t reflect their real traits.
That being said, here are some of the most intelligent animals in the world, according to animal experts. Read on to find out more info!
- Their skills: they use logic to understand the world.
The common raven is a large all black passerine birds, also known as the western raven or northern raven. This type of bird is one of the two largest corvids and the heaviest passerine bird. It seems that common ravens can live more than 20 years in the wild.
They have coexisted with humans for thousands of years, but in some regions, they are considered pests due to their large number. Common ravens are omnivorous, which means that they usually feed on carrion, fruits, insects, cereal grains, small animals and nesting birds.
However, it has been proven that these birds are actually unusually intelligent. According to researchers from Canada and Scotland, the common raven can be a multi tasking bird. In other words, these birds are able to use logic to understand their surroundings and are really good at it, better than great apes.
In an experiment, the researchers put some food in a place that ravens could only get by going through certain obstacles, and of course, they have succeeded immediately and without the help of the researchers.
- Their skills: they have the largest brains and can recognize faces
In general, male dolphins are larger than females and both genders can travel at speeds 29 km/h (18 mph) for short distances. These pretty creatures use their conical shaped teeth to catch fast moving prey. Mother Nature gave them a well developed hearing which is so strong that they can survive even if they are blind. Their skin has a layer of fat to keep them warm in the cold waters.
Dolphins are social creatures that usually travel and hunt in groups, called ‘diddle’. Their diet consists of fish and squid, but other species of dolphins, such as the killer whale, prefer large mammals, such as seals.
They are often kept in captivity because they can be easily trained to perform tricks and impress people – and yes, they turned out to be one of the most intelligent animals out there, especially because they have a large brain, unlike other animals that have similar body sizes, a fact confirmed by Lori Marino, a dolphin expert at Emory University.
In addition, animal experts say that dolphins can recognize people’s faces as well as their own appearance and communicate with each other.
- Their skills: they are capable of solving problems, learn concepts and are highly empathetic
Rats are medium sized rodents with long tails. The most common species of rats are found in the genus Rattus, but there are more rat genera, such as Neotoma (pack rats), Bandicota (bandicoot rats) and Dipodomys (kangaroo rats). They are considered ‘opportunistic survivors’ and often live near humans. Some wild rats can carry various diseases that can be fatal most of the time, but there are rats that can be kept as pets or can even be used in research labs.
However, according to animal experts, rats are very intelligent creatures that can solve problems, such as solving mazes. Thus, rats can not only understand concepts, but they can even learn a navigation route and never forget it. They are also empathetic to each other, and a study found that a rat will help another rat when needed, rather than seizing the opportunity to get treats.
- Their skills: they can solve mazes, understand emotions, and even play video games
Pigs are animals in the genus Sus and highly and intelligent domesticated creatures. However, Candace Croney, who is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, once taught pigs to play video games.
“Cognition is about all the processes that animals have available to them, that allow them to get information, store information, recall it and use it so that they can adapt to the environment that they find themselves in or not,” she said.
“What we found was that they actually – a big surprise to people who work with pigs, right? Not at all! – is that they’re really very fast learners. They learn novel things quite quickly and quite well.”
She also prepared other tasks for them, so they were asked to solve mazes as well as distinguish peppermint from spearmint. According to a study, the scent is very important for pigs to recognize things.
- Their skills: they can understand and reproduce human body language and symbols
The bonobo (historically called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee) is an endangered great ape in the genus Pan. They are closely related to the common chimpanzee, but are NOT a subspecies of the chimpanzee, but a distinct species. They can be found only in central Africa and are omnivorous.
It’s no secret that they are extremely intelligent creatures, especially since they are the closest extant relatives to humans, along with the common chimpanzee.
Nevertheless, according to animal experts, bonobos not only can understand the human body language, but they can also reproduce it. They can also make and use tools, hunt as a group, be empathetic and altruistic.
For example, after an experiment in which researchers taught a bonobo named Kanzi to use lexigrams on a keyboard, he taught himself how to communicate using human body language only by watching Koko the Gorilla. He can also cook his own food, which is amazing.
- Their skills: they have a great memory, can recognize themselves in a mirror and exhibit empathy
Elephants are creatures of the family Elephantidae and the largest existing land animals. There are three species of elephants: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. However, not only do they have large ears and prominent bodies, but they have the largest brain of any terrestrial animal with as many neurons as a human brain.
One of the most common techniques for measuring the intelligence of an animal adopted by most animal experts is to compare the brain to their body size.
That being said, just like dolphins, elephants have passed this test.
It has been proven that elephants have a great memory, as they can recognize themselves in the mirror, as well as other members of their herd, even though they have probably been separated for years. So, be careful how you behave with an elephant, because they will never forget you!
- Their skills: they have an excellent memory and are great social learners
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae (which is formed by small or medium-size rodents). According to a 2009 study from the University of Exeter, Squirrel Psychology: How Squirrels Learn From Others How To Steal Food, they are able to quickly learn social tricks from their peers, especially when they have to steal food. Moreover, they use a lot of strategies to steal food from bird feeders, and that’s why many householders consider them intruders.
More than that, according to some researchers in California, they use to cover their fur in rattlesnake scent to mask their own scent and keep predators away.
Psst…If you’re like us and don’t consider squirrels pests, you’ll love this adorable feeder Amazon has!