It may be easy for humans to assume they’re the only intelligent living beings on this planet. But in all actuality, other animals have shown they have abilities that can rival — or in some instances, go beyond — human capabilities. Some animals have such human-like traits, like the chimpanzee’s complex social patterns and the elephant’s apparent ability to empathize, that it becomes clear humans have more in common with other animals than originally thought. Here are 10 of the most intelligent animals on Earth. See if you can spot any similarities to the human race.
Orangutans, part of the great ape family, are gaining more recognition for their intelligence. Once thought to be less brainy than chimpanzees, scientists are rethinking that notion due to the ability shown by orangutans to learn complex skills like using tools. Orangutans are also known for being able to imitate human actions.
Like orangutans, chimpanzees have shown they are capable of working with tools, which they can use to find food. These animals are also known to have great communication power; Washoe the chimpanzee was the first non-human to learn how to communicate via sign language. Moreover, chimpanzees are highly social, and have a complex social structure that’s second only to that of their distant living relatives: humans.
While parrots may be known for their ability to imitate human speech, they should be recognized for their intelligence because of their good memories and problem-solving abilities. In fact, one such parrot became famous for asking an existential question about itself. While learning colors, Alex the African grey parrot asked scientists, “What color am I?”
The crow is another bird with an excellent memory. Crows can remember human faces, as well as who has acted cruel or kind to them, and they can hold grudges accordingly. Crows also have the ability to manipulate objects and use tools. They know how to drop nuts into traffic or onto rough surfaces to break open the shells, and they can use stones or pebbles to defend themselves.
Rats may be known as being dirty, pest animals, but they’re also highly intelligent with strong memories. Rats are able to adapt well to changing circumstances and often can navigate complex mazes designed by humans.
Pigs might also seem like unlikely candidates to be among the world’s smartest animals, but they’re incredibly social. Pigs use 20 types of vocalizations when communicating with each other. While they may be known for wallowing in mud, pigs have the sense to keep their toilet area away from where they live.
As man’s best friend, dogs have shown they can display high emotional intelligence and an ability to respond to commands. They are highly trainable and can be fast learners. Dogs can also identify a million different types of scents.
Like pigs, elephants are incredibly social animals. They can recognize and mimic a wide range of sounds. Elephants also have good memories and experience human-like emotions from sorrow to joy. They are one of the few animals that seem to show empathy for others. Like great apes, they use rudimentary tools when necessary, like to find food.
Octopuses are known as the most intelligent among invertebrates, and they are the only such animal to use tools. Octopuses are highly skilled hunters, and with the ability to change the shape of their body in many ways, they have shown to be adept problem-solvers in avoiding predators.
When factoring their brain-to-body ratio, dolphins are known to have one of the largest brains in the animal kingdom. Dolphins are capable of expressing different types of emotions and are advanced communicators. Moreover, they are only one of several species that can recognize themselves in a mirror.
This world is certainly filled with many different animals that boast intelligence in their own unique ways. But understanding the commonality between different species may be the first step toward appreciating other animals as much as they deserve.