Did you know which are the most intelligent animals in the world? Humans can learn from their experiences, apply their knowledge to adapt to new situations and surroundings, and remember, memorize, perceive, and solve various problems. However, some animals also possess specialized intelligence that allows them to secure their place in the food chain through their survival strategies. They have unique skills that help them navigate to find food, avoid predators, and display emotional intelligence.
Here is a list of the world’s top 10 most intelligent animals.
Despite having a small brain, ants have a fascinating communication system and complex society. Every human on Earth is proportional to 1.5 million ants across various species. Ants evolved during the time of the dinosaurs and started farming through fungus cultivation 50 million years before humans. Their colonies span thousands of miles and are well-planned, with different sections for farming, food collection, and gathering.
Each ant colony has a unique chemical identity allows them to recognize strangers. Ants travel by following pheromones laid by scout ants responsible for finding food, and each ant will leave trails for others to follow. They have thick muscles in proportion to their body size, allowing them to carry objects 50 times greater than their weight.
Crows are one of the most populated bird species in the world. Being unafraid of human presence and with their baffling inborn intelligence, they are smart enough to make trouble over humans. The tricks used by crows for finding food and building a nest reflect their unmatchable intelligence. Crows have the most giant brains in bird species except for some species of parrots.
They are intelligent enough to recognize human faces and to hide their food from other birds. Crows make closer observations of the human world to find food. For example, crows know how to break nuts by dropping them on rough surfaces. Crows also use different tools like stones and pebbles to attack predators.
Otters are the smallest marine mammals on Earth. They have a playful nature and live along the banks of rivers and ocean shores. Sea otters are particularly clever, using tools like rocks to find food and storing them in a little pouch under their armpits for later use. They can hold their breath for over five minutes to catch their prey, residing mainly on the sea floor.
Sea otters can also detect predators by sensing changes in the vibrations of water. The sea otter’s intelligence is visible through childish actions. To avoid floating away while sleeping, they wrap themselves and even hold each other’s hands to stay close together. Thus, they rest as a group of otters called a raft, which can consist of over 1,000 sea otters.
Pigs are highly intelligent and sociable creatures. Studies have shown that pigs possess more cognitive power than both dogs and human babies. These playful animals enjoy engaging in various activities together, such as walking, eating, playing, and sleeping. They communicate with one another using a diverse range of vocalizations. Even newborn pigs can understand their mother’s unique sounds.
Additionally, pigs are incredibly clean and keep their toilet area far away from their living space. In the wild, pigs play a crucial role in the growth of new plants by creating areas for them to thrive. They have a remarkable sense of direction and can easily locate their home from afar. As one of the most intelligent animals, they can also make decisions based on past experiences, demonstrating impressive cognitive abilities.
Octopuses are incredibly intelligent and perceptive creatures among invertebrates. They can sense the presence of enemies using their intellectual power and even change their body shape to avoid predators. Additionally, each of their eight arms contains its own mini-brain to act independently, allowing them to complete tasks quickly and efficiently with the supervision of a centralized control.
Octopuses are the only invertebrates that use tools and have been observed making shields over their lairs using different types of shells. They are even capable of recognizing human faces! Scientific American once reported a story about an octopus in a water tank at the University of Otago in New Zealand squirting water at a staff member whenever she passed by.
It’s no secret that dogs make fantastic companions for humans. In fact, an average dog is as intelligent as a 2-year-old child! With proper training, dogs can sense smell, protect their owners, and learn new tricks quickly. They have a unique ability to understand humans better than any other animal and can find their way home from even the furthest of distances.
Dogs also respond well to commands and gestures from their owners. They are smart enough to convince their owners to achieve their desires. Dogs exhibit a wide range of emotions, including joy, disgust, fear, and anger. They can even learn up to 165 words and the names of various objects, helping them to retrieve specific items when given instructions.
Some whale species behave more like dolphins. Although it is challenging to train whales due to their large size, their social behavior, communication techniques, and imitation abilities are evidence of their intelligence. For example, sperm whales have the largest brains compared to any other living creature, while beluga whales can mimic human speech. These cognitive abilities are thanks to spindle cells in their brains.
Whales communicate with each other using complex vocal tones, and toothed whales use a range of whistles and high-pitched clicks that are distinct from one another. This allows them to identify who is speaking and what they are saying. Additionally, whales are highly social animals that travel and hunt in groups.
Elephants have the largest brains compared to any land animal. These intelligent creatures show remarkable social behavior and are often faithful companions to humans. They can learn from their surroundings, recognize hundreds of individual sounds, and even mimic a wide range of sounds.
Researchers from the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, have discovered that African elephants can distinguish differences in human gender, age, and ethnicity-based solely on the voice they hear. When they sense a potential threat, they quickly switch into defensive mode. Elephants are also capable of displaying a range of emotions, such as joy, playfulness, and sorrow. In the wild, they sometimes use tools to find food.
Dolphins are highly intelligent marine animals with advanced problem-solving abilities and social behavior. Humans often rely on dolphins’ intelligence to solve ocean mysteries worldwide. Like humans, dolphins have a sophisticated communication system that helps them adapt to their surroundings and establish intricate social structures. Dolphins have large, intricate brains that can process language, auditory information, and emotions.
Moreover, they exhibit excellent self-recognition skills in mirrors, understanding symbol-based communication systems, cultural learning, and comprehending abstract concepts. Even when resting, one part of their brain remains alert to help them detect any potential threats. Some dolphins, such as bottlenose dolphins found off the coast of Western Australia, use sea sponges to protect themselves while searching for fish in the sand on the seafloor.
Great apes are the second most intelligent animals on Earth, just after humans. Many scientific theories suggest that humans actually evolved from apes. Apes are known for their complex social lives and ability to express various emotions. The ape family includes chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos, and they share many similarities in DNA with humans.
They can learn from their environment and use tools to find food and protect themselves from predators. Additionally, they have strong memory skills that allow them to manipulate their surroundings effectively. With their potential language and observation skills, apes have an exceptional ability to think about the past and future.