When I watch nature documentaries or read about animals, I often hear someone say that the animals are smart. I decided to do a little digging. There are many lists regarding animal intelligence. Top five, top ten, top twenty-five, etc.
The animal at the top of most lists is the chimp.
Then dolphins, elephants, and pigs.
Crows and squirrels.
Octopi, orangutans, ravens, parrots, pigeons.
Raccoons and squid.
Some argue that orangs are smarter than chimps. Some argue that dolphins are smarter than humans.
Other animals rarely listed are dogs, cats, horses, cows, ants, and jumping spiders.
What surprised me is the relatively small number of predators. I was also surprised to see octopi on the list. Smart, ok. Very smart? Who knew.
Any surprises for you. Anything you'd add? General comments?
What surprised me is the relatively small number of predators.
Most animals tend to be highly specialized in relation to the tools they have to work with. In the case of predators, the selective pressures usually relate to their teeth and claws and their senses (for tracking/catching prey).
The animals with the highest intelligence are usually those which don't possess a strong toolbox of other specializations. And they are often animals which benefit from social groups for survival (intelligence benefits communication).
From my personal interest and researching the topic :
Octopi, Pigs, some bird species .
Then some of the more familiar, like dolphins, apes, monkeys...
Then humans . We have extra computing power from when we would calculate distance and branch size and strength etc before leaping . When we came out of the trees this area was used for mathematics . Our external storage of knowledge and out internal storage by words makes us look smart, but when confronted with a new problem, the order above is fairly accurate .
tsar, The only thing the dog is contemplating is when the next mealtime is.
Ragman, I doubt that any species has better spin or emotional connection to humans than dogs. The names of pro teams don't mean diddly. Just remember--there are teams named after footwear.
Max, One might assume that humans are at the top of any intelligence list. However, I've been around long enough and met enough humans to have serious doubts about this. Also, I like your quote.
Fri 31 Jul, 2015 11:50 pm
Roger, Just 'cuz we don't see dolphins making lists doesn't mean that they don't have them. Just means we ain't seen 'em.
rosborne, Good points about predators. I guess you don't need to be especially smart to be a good predator, although watching a chimp hunting party suggests that smarts don't hoit. I've also seen dolphins on the hunt. Again, being smart is an advantage.
Ionus, I might agree with you about problem solving. But when it comes to abstract thought, I think humans win. But what do I know. I'm just a human.
I apologize for splitting up my responses. My computer makes long, multiple responses impossible.
One more thing that surprised me was how few primates there are on the lists. My first reaction was disbelief. Is an octopus smarter than a baboon? I think a lot depends on the criteria used for ranking animal intelligence. Or maybe I'm just narrow-minded--a species bigot.
Being smart can definitely make you a better predator. Humans are proof of that. But being a good predator from the start, isn't a good path toward getting smarter (genetically).
Sat 1 Aug, 2015 10:15 am
all creatures are Smart - as smartness is keenness and an ability to strive effectively. They are instinctual and that is a very commendable form of smartness.
smartness is not the same thing as intelligence. Intelligence has a different word for a reason, and it is a reference to our capacity to develop. NO animal has the capacity to develop individually. scientific fact*.
All animals are equally intelligent, in their capacity to learn from humans ~ if the human knows how to teach the animal - as all animals learn according to their instinctual behaviours.
Animals can be corrupted, domesticated, or individualized.
Hawks are very intelligent, as are falcons. This is easy to accomplish. A single conversation with a wild Hawk will likely provide you with many facts about the birds outlooks and upbringing/parentage. It would also be shocked to learn that the only reason it is not a vegetarian eating fruit is because No human is providing a sufficient supply for them as we are required to do according to the word of God. But they sure do love blue berries and cherries.
Fish also have very unique personalities, and their social lives can become very intricate, complex and emotional. Every fish is very orientated to develop intellectually if assisted. One can observe a female fish courting her bachelor in a pond when both are introduced at varying times and locations. The female will guide him through her previous path, and like Dori, zip off down a trail she had taken and loose herself, while he unprepared to follow will wait stunned for minutes waiting for her.
Toads are lovely, like little children, they are careless.
anyways. There can be no list. There isn't any. Ever animal can bee Taught to be intelligent BY a Human, and every animal is smart.
many group of pinnacle species of various genera are "self aware". That is the foundation of intelligence. Crows and ravens certainly dont act only instinctually. They "figure it out" an can plan many steps ahead. The story of the crows using the road at the pedetrian crosswalk is such an example.
Elephants, great apes, some cetaceans, birds of the corvids and psiticenes , IMHO are truly intelligent animals.
Dogs may have been as smart as wolves one time but theyve lost that ability as a deal that came with domestication.
many of the weasel/fisher families are also highly intelligent.
Sat 1 Aug, 2015 01:37 pm
problem with octopi is that they have a rel short lifespan. If they lived long, who knows.
Mon 3 Aug, 2015 08:54 pm
A lot of human abstract thought comes from words . Intelligence is required to lie, puzzle solve, concepts of self and have an understanding of processes not seen but can be deduced . Raw intelligence seems to be more in species that are poorly adapted rather than a crocodile that has very few needs and is well adapted and so has quite a long life as a species .
Octopi are very intelligent . In one instance an octopus climbed out of a tank to scramble across the floor and eat fish experiments in another tank, then go back to its own tank . The only reason for the dangerous return journey seemed to be it knew it was stealing the undergraduates' fish . They also learn things like screw threads faster than any other animal .