Humans are the most intelligent creatures on Earth; there is no debate about this. But there are many millions of species of other creatures on Earth along with us that evolutionary biologists say are very closely related to us. Which of these animals are the most intelligent? What distinguishes them from the rest?
Number one on our list and number two in the world for most intelligent creature is the dolphin. Dolphins are gifted with large brains and a social disposition, much like humans. In terms of brain to body weight ratio, they are second only to humans. Also like humans, Dolphins demonstrate strong personalities as well as a sense of self that is not seen in other creatures. Dolphins are also able to think about the future and pass down behavioral traits not just by genes, but by teaching their offspring.
Chimps and Orangutans
Humans once thought that we were the only creatures on Earth to use tools, so this was one of the ways of defining ourselves. It has sense been discovered, however, that chimps and orangutans also use sticks as tools to get food and for use as a weapon. Chimps, because of their genetic resemblance to humans, have been used extensively in experiments for intelligence. They are able to communicate their desires via computer keyboards and learn sign language. Researchers say that the peak of a chimp’s or orangutan’s intelligence is about that of a human toddler.
These creatures have long mystified researchers because of their huge size and relatively impressive intelligence. Elephants are one of the few creatures on Earth that pass the “mirror test” for self-awareness. When a mirror is placed in front of them, they are able to understand that the image they are seeing is them and will begin to inspect their trunk. Besides this, Elephants also, as the saying goes, “never forget.” They have excellent memory capabilities that go well beyond other animals. There are also myths about Elephants including the idea that older ones go to an “elephant graveyard” to die. This is not true, but a superstition built around their obvious intelligence.
Intelligent and funny, parrots often appear in films because humans love their ability to copy human language. This ability was originally useful in the wild for confusing other animals. However, parrots do not only copy language but they also understand it. Some parrots have the ability to learn over 100 words that they respond to throughout their lifetime. These birds have also demonstrated the ability to operate simple tools by themselves, sometimes even without training.
The less beloved relative of the parrot, crows also demonstrate many of the same abilities. They can operate simple machines without training including using sticks to reach food that they want. Crows have also been seen to drop nuts so that cars run them over on the highway, demonstrating an impressive ability to adapt to their surroundings. Crows are often associated with dark things and traditionally hated by farmers because of their crop destroying intelligence. Crows often will not react to a poorly constructed scarecrow, showing just how intelligent they really are.
Man’s best friend and probably the most popular animal on the planet, dogs are very intelligent creatures. Because of their social nature, they connected with the equally social humans thousands of years ago and were used for hunting. Border Collies, considered the most intelligent breed of dog, can understand hundreds of commands and many abstract concepts. If you own a dog, then you know just how intelligent they can be. Dogs lack the ability to use tools, however, which ranks them last on the list of clever animals.