The Top 10 Smartest Animals in the World
Snuffling their way into the tenth spot on our list, pigs are actually very intelligent animals—especially potbellied pigs. They are capable of being housetrained and they can actually learn tricks easier than a dog. Both domestic and wild species are also known for their ability to adapt very well to a variety of environmental conditions. In addition to all of that, pigs are actually some of the cleanest domestic animals (despite their reputation) and certain scientific studies have even placed them on equal footing with chimpanzees!
The largest mammals on earth, these creatures of the great blue are extremely intelligent. To start with, they are capable of finding family members and communicate with each other across hundreds of miles. How they are able to do this still baffles scientists. They have also showed signs of grief when one of their family members die. This particularly applies to Small Toothed Whales, who also exhibit excellent signs of strategy and teamwork when they hunt. Their awesome display of intelligence is all the more reason to fight against whaling and support groups like Sea Shepherd.
This friendly, furry creature is known across the world as “man’s best friend”, and with good reason. They can communicate with us and other animals in a number of ways, including by barking and use of body language. They learn tricks and commands very easily, have displayed excellent tracking, hunting, and rescue skills, and their loyalty is not something you want to mess with. They have learned how to count and how to retrieve different items when asked for. Dogs can also empathize with us—they understand our moods and know when we may want some companionship, and when we simply need to be alone.
This is a fancy word for squid, the octopus, and similar animals, and they are absolutely amazing. These sea creatures have the ability to change their color and pattern in less than a second, making it very easy for them to blend in with their surroundings. They can mimic a variety of different creatures, which helps them to either attract prey or avoid predators. Octopuses and squid have been known to use tools, move objects, and are fantastic problem-solvers. They know how to gather items to build a shelter for themselves and it probably doesn’t hurt that they also have excellent eyesight, sense of touch, and speed. Oh, and they can also be very deadly. The one pictured here (the Blue Ringed Octopus) ranges between 5 and 8 inches in size, but it packs enough venom to kill 26 grown men within minutes!
Parrots are one of the few animals in the world that can mimic a variety of different animal voices, including human, as well as sounds (such as sirens or hammers). They can talk with us, learn extremely complicated tricks fairly easily, count, tell the difference between shapes and colors, and more. Some of these birds can even sew with a thread and needle! In addition to that, they can hold conversations with people and understand different moods. One example of this is Alex, an African Grey Parrot that was part of a 30 year study. When his researcher showed signs of annoyance, he would actually say “I’m sorry”. I know humans that aren’t even capable of that!
These large black birds are considered the most intelligent of all bird species. With many similarities between them, Crows and Ravens both have the ability to count, use tools, distinguish shapes, and perform a variety of difficult tasks. They know how to use items to catch food or avoid predators and even have the ability to make tools if there are none available. These birds also have a great understanding of the social order of things and have even manipulated others in order to gain more food and protection for themselves. Like parrots, they can also mimic a number of different voices and they understand the concept of play.
Yes, Ants. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. They are suggested to be the smartest insect on the planet. Ants are intelligent, methodical, and strategic. They know how to send scouts out for food. They know how to delegate responsibility between hunting/gathering and defending their home. And they can direct traffic better than any streetlight or cop. Ants are extremely territorial and they will not hesitate to let invaders know that. They also know how to adapt to their changing environment, or to change their environment to suit their needs. One example of this is a type of ant found in Africa that will remove the limbs from their home-plant (or other plants, for that matter) to prevent an invasion from happening. Ants are also very strong—they can lift at least 20 times their own weight!
You know that saying, “an elephant never forgets”? Well, it’s true and it’s because of their awesome memory that they have landed in the number 3 spot. Elephants remember everything. They know who their friends and enemies are. They follow the same migratory paths and know where to find water and other landmarks, even if they haven’t been to those places in years. Elephants will also mourn when one of their companions die; they’ll even remember where the gravesite is and revisit it later on. Elephants will remember you if you hurt them and they will bear that anger against you for their entire lives. As the largest land mammal, these creatures also possess a lot of emotion and understanding. They are capable of empathy, communication, grief, self-recognition, and compassion (among other things). They know the difference between work and play, have their own understanding of social order, and know how to make (and use) tools from the environment around them. In addition to all of that, they can paint, make music, and display signs of being cultured and very curious animals.
Many would argue that the Dolphin is the smartest animal on the planet. Unfortunately, this water mammal only made it to the second spot on our list (and you’ll see why in a moment). Dolphins have their own unique language. Those whistles, clicks, and “eeeeeeeeee” sounds they make are an advanced way of communicating ideas, plans, or simply calling their names. Dolphins are excellent at hunting and setting up traps. They know how to use items in their environment as tools for a variety of purposes, such as using bait to catch bigger fish. They also know how to work together, solve puzzles, follow instructions, and the mothers will pass all their knowledge on to their calves. Even more interesting is that their brains are always alert, including when they sleep. Dolphins have the ability to keep half of their brain awake and the other half asleep, and also switch between the two. This makes it easier for them to be aware of nearby food or danger. In addition to all of that, certain military forces have also used dolphins to aid them in a few different ways, such as delivering messages between ships. Dolphins are capable of empathy, consciousness, and extreme understanding that no human has yet been able to comprehend.
It should come as no surprise that these primates (or Great Apes in general) made the number one spot. They communicate in a variety of ways, including their voices, body language, sign language, and they even know how to combine symbols to convey an idea (much like how we use letters and words). They make their own tools, live and hunt in organized groups, and they can become quite aggressive towards others, which might suggest they understand the concept of possession, [territorial] boundaries, or invasions. These primates are very capable of empathy, altruism, and self-awareness. They also have their own social hierarchy and understand the importance of rank amongst their groups. They know how to use the power they have and how to manipulate or deceive others to move higher up in the rankings. Chimpanzees actually have a better memory than any other creature—including humans. They’ve even beaten college graduates at simple memory exams! They can be taught new things very easily, adapt well to the changing world around the, and they also know how to apply tactical maneuvers to hunting and other areas of their lives. Like Dolphins, Chimpanzees will also pass their knowledge on to their young. With great problem-solving skills, an interesting sense of justice, and acting abilities better than some people in recently released movies, it’s no wonder these Great Apes made the number 1 spot.
That’s it for this Top 10 List. However, there are some creatures that just missed the cut. Other animals that are also very intelligent include: cats, rats, orangutans, squirrels, termites, pigeons, and sheep. Next time you come across them, give them the respect they deserve. According to a recent article on Care2, some of them are even smarter than you!
By Heidi Marshall
Tags: animals smarter than humans, ants, cephalopods, chimpanzees, crows, dogs, dolphins, elephants, great apes, intelligence, octopus, parrots, pigs, ravens, smartest animals in the world, squid, top 10 list, whales