One does not have to deal with space exploration in order to find the intelligence of nonhuman origin in the Universe – it is enough to take a look at the planet Earth. Comparison of human and animal intelligence can be very difficult because intelligence exists in various forms. For example, a squirrel can remember the place where it buried hundreds of hazelnuts six months ago, while it is extremely difficult for them to remember people's faces. A dog recognizes its owner by the smell, but it cannot send an email. The question is – based on which properties is animals' intelligence compared to humans' intelligence? When making comparisons, scientists usually focus on several key capabilities that people have developed through history – making tools, the use of symbols, empathy and problem solving skills. Based on human intelligence standards, what do you think which animals are the smartest?
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Orangutans hate housework
The consciousness of these monkeys is at the level of four-year-old children. In the wild they use sticks to fish, measure water level and get to hard-to-reach food. In captivity they are capable of imitating people, and have so far learned how to use a hammer, to cool with wet cloths and wash their clothes. One of the smartest orangutans ever was Chantec, who was raised by people in the nineties. Until his ninth month he already knew how to ask scientists to give him a drink, while until his fourth year he invented the phrase “tomato toothpaste”, which was how he described ketchup. Chantec even learned how to lie – in order to avoid doing boring housework – he always said he needed to go to the bathroom.
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Dolphins play catch
When Billy spent three weeks in captivity in Australia, she learned to move backwards in the water, on her tail. When she returned to the wild again, she taught other dolphins this trick, and they started doing it out of fun. Other interesting things that dolphins do are disturbing organisms on the sea bottom by using sponges they put in their mouth, they use sea shells for collecting fish, they play catch with turtles and they adore sliding down on the whales' backs. Female dolphin Kelly of the Institute for Research of marine mammals in Mississippi was particularly cunning – when she learned that bringing a piece of paper will give her a fish in exchange, she ripped a big piece of paper into several smaller parts and took them one by one in order to get more fish.
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Crows use tools for getting to food
Experts in animal behavior believe that crows, from the family to which ravens, jackdaws and crows belong, are as smart as the average seven year old child and apes. The smartest crows are those who live in the archipelago of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. Laboratory experiments have shown that they are capable of raising the water level in the pipe by throwing stones into the water to collect the pieces of food that float on water. The smartest crow in the world is Betty, who lives in Oxford. When scientists gave her a transparent plastic tube with food at the bottom, she bent a nearby wire to form a hook and hooked her food. Her partner Abel never bothered to make the hook – he would wait patiently for Betty to do all the work, and then took the food from her by force. In Japan, crows throw nuts on the street, waiting for the cars to crush the shell. Then they return to the street and retrieve the content contained inside.
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Why are chimpanzees considered champions?
Chimpanzees and their cousins bonobo monkeys take care of sick individuals in the group, mourn their dead and join together in groups, in order to be more successful in the hunt. They use sticks as tools with which they remove bugs from cracks to eat them, and they use stones to crack nuts open. One of the smartest apes in this group is Kanzi, the bonobo from Iowa. He knows more than 200 words, and on one occasion he showed the symbols for marshmallow and fire. When the staff brought him matches and wood, he built a fire and began baking treats. Chimpanzees also have a brilliant memory. A documentary was shown about Swing and Dolly, chimpanzees that have been reunited with the woman who had saved them in the seventies. Despite the fact that the last time they saw her was 18 years ago, they were immensely happy to see her and they hugged her.
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Elephants are cunning
Elephants have the largest brain of all mammals, which we had an opportunity to find out in one of our previous articles. They are equally successful as chimpanzees in recognizing themselves in a mirror, problem solving and using tools. In the wild they use branches for scratching and leaves to drive away flies. Their empathy is amazing. They will become really upset if they see that a member of their group extends the trunk to the wire with electricity, they will protect the dead cubs for days, while the whole group will slow down if they see the skeletons of elephants and spend some time cuddling bones with their trunks. Asian elephants who 'work' at night have wooden bells attached to them, to alarm people if the elephants go into the farms at night. But some of those elephants realized that the bell doesn't ring if they fill it with mud, that's why they can peacefully enjoy bananas.
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Perspicacious like a parrot
Parrots are not only great imitators, they also have a striking feature of solving problems. One of the most famous parrots was Alex, who could pronounce more than 100 words, identify 50 different objects, count out loud to 6, differentiate 7 colors and 5 shapes and understand the meaning of the words 'more', 'less', 'the same' and 'different'. His last words before he died in 2007 at age 32, were addressed to a psychologist Irene Pepperberg, and were: “Be good, see you tomorrow. I love you”.
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Pigs love puzzles
Pigs are definitely the greatest thinkers on farms – they are far more astute than horses, cows and chickens. They have an excellent long-term memory and easily cope with labyrinths. Scientists even managed to teach them how to use the joystick to move the cursor on a computer screen, and they have also demonstrated the ability to learn a variety of tricks, from opening the door on the cage to jumping through hoops. Pigs are very cunning, too. If one believes that the other pig went to lunch, it will follow in the hope that it will get a part of the portion, too. On the other hand, if the pig thinks it is being followed, it will deliberately take the “opponents” in another direction, just to get rid of them. Earlier this year, a German pig Moritz became an animal celebrity with the video footage that shows him putting together a children's puzzle.
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Octopuses are so smart that keeping them in an aquarium can be a big problem. In April last year, the workers of the National Aquarium of New Zealand discovered that the octopus Incas sneaked out through a small gap in the aquarium during the night and crossed the floor to the 50-meter-long pipes that led into the ocean. Octopuses easily pass through the underwater mazes and unscrew different packaging made in a way so that children cannot open them. They also love playing. Staff in the Seattle Aquarium accommodated an octopus in an empty aquarium with a bottle which was floating on the water. After a few minutes the octopus discovered that the bottle bounces against the wall and comes back if sprayed with water. The animal repeated this process 20 times – just as a child would throw the ball against the wall and wait for it.
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Man's best friend
Dogs are very good at understanding the intentions of their owners. They can easily read human facial expressions and will follow the owner's look when looking at something. A female border colie from South Carolina, called Chaser, is considered to be world's most intelligent dog. She understands dozens of verbs like 'take' and 'put your paw on', distinguishes names of 800 stuffed animals, 116 balls and more than 100 plastic toys. Even the average dog understands more than 160 words, not counting its name – the same amount as a child that is two years old.