Humans are pretty smart, don’t you think? We’ve put a man on the moon. We invented Slim Jims. Water parks are an awesome human creation too. But before you get all on your high horse, let’s not forget that we share the planet with a lot of brainy animals. For example, lemurs are smart. Not really. But they do have weird eyes and two tongues, so there’s that. Goats? Geese? Barn owls? We shall not speak of them. Anyway, before this article spirals out of control, let’s get back on track and look at the top 10 smartest animals in the world.
Listen, guys. We understand that octopuses are selfish animals. I mean, who needs eight legs? Can’t they at least donate a couple of them to snakes or something? But they are also far more intelligent than you might given them credit for. It has been found that they have distinct personalities, have basic problem-solving skills, and even entertain themselves when they feel bored. Silly looking? Yes. Smart? You betcha!
Pigeons are often called “rats with wings.” But consider this: aside from the rhesus monkey, pigeons are the only non-humans to possess abstract mathematical abilities. They can also recognize individual humans by their faces, which is kind of impressive. I mean, can you recognize individual pigeons by their faces? Didn’t think so!
I really wish dogs could have been higher on this list. I love my dogs (Mister Toby, Mister Boo and Mister Logan, if you were curious to know). But let’s face it: they are goofballs. They’re still pretty smart though. They are naturally easy to train, can learn as many as 165 words, and understand human non-verbal cues better than any other member of the animal kingdom. They also demonstrate compassion and a whole lot of traits that are practically human.
Crows are total trolls to cats, guys. Just look at a few YouTube videos and you’ll see what I mean. They are exceptionally intelligent. They can solve problems and there’s even a story about a girl in Seattle who feeds crows and receives gifts in a show of gratitude. Crows can also distinguish between “friendly” and “hostile” human faces. I’m pretty sure I would fall into the former category.
Holy crap! Rats can dream? They bond with their human owners? They respond to tickles with glee? I think I’ll just go ahead and make my way to the sewers and collect a few pets! Okay, maybe not. But, yes, rats really are one of the brainiest animals around. They recognize their names (Yoohoo, Mister Ratty McRatface?) and, much like dogs, will ask to be let out of their cage so they can play.
Pigs are super clever. It’s kind of a shame that they’re also super delicious. They can operate joysticks, mock brawl with each other like your favorite WWE superstars, solve mazes like a pig boss should, and they have excellent long-term memories. Oh, and they communicate with each other using 20 different distinct vocalizations. But once again, they make a delicious addition to a hamburger.
We’re already impressed enough that parrots can mimic the human voice, but there’s a whole lot going in their clever bird brains. For instance, they are able to think in the abstract. They also appear to have an understanding about causality and use it to make sense of the world around them. They demand a lot of structure and routine in their lives, and any deviation can cause them to freak out. Case in point: my Aunt Marie was so concerned about her parrot’s behavior that she hired an animal psychologist to treat her bird’s emotional issues.
There’s a popular belief that elephants never forget. Unlike those nonsensical old wives’ tales (lobsters don’t scream when they’re boiled alive, guys), this one is actually true! Their cortex contains a lot of the same types of brain cells that exist in our own brains. Elephants have also been proven to recognize themselves in a mirror. They use seismic signals to communicate with their other elephant friends and are helpful and compassionate. And get this: they pay their respects when a member of their elephant community dies.
Dolphins are the clowns of the sea. For instance, they troll the hell out of octopuses. Yes, folks. They will actually scoop up the octopuses into their mouths and throw them up in the air purely for shits and giggles. But that’s not really the most impressive thing about Flipper. Every dolphin has its own distinct whistle, and if one dolphin wants to call on the other, it will mimic that particular whistle. It’s sort of the equivalent of giving each other names. Dolphins are also extremely hospitable towards humans. For example, they will defend us against sharks (that’s pretty badass of them!) and they will even give fisherman a signal when it’s time to throw down a net. Whatever doesn’t get caught in the net ends up in the dolphin’s tummy, so it’s really a win-win situation.
You’re probably wondering what the hell a bonobo is. Shame on you. They are a type of monkey, okay? More specifically, they are slightly smaller than their chimpanzee cousins and live exclusively in a particular region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. What makes them different from chimps is that they are completely peaceful, which is why we’ve put them on top of this list. In fact, there has never been a single recorded incident of a bonobo killing another. Bonobos in the wild also get along fine with humans, unlike their aggressive chimp counterparts. Finally, they communicate with each other using highly complex body language and are also able to make simple tools.