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These are likely to be smartest creatures you’ll ever come across in the animal kingdom. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Intelligent Animals."
For this list, we’re looking at the animals that are known to possess smarts and intelligence that may even remind us of human intelligence at times, but we are excluding human beings from our choices.
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Found in North America, this mammal even looks like a bandit so it’s not that surprising that it’s no stranger to seeking food from the trash or being pests in people’s homes. However, the raccoon also has—perhaps surprisingly—amazing intelligence. Studies have shown that these clever beasts have been able to recall solutions to complex problems and even identify and differentiate different symbols up to three years after learning them. Some experts have also said that raccoons had performed very high on a mammal IQ test. Way to go, you marvelous masked mammals!
#9: Border Collie
Often considered the smartest dogs in the world, the Border Collie is known for its sheep-herding skills, unstoppable stamina, and the need to keep themselves busy with any task that is presented to them. It is said that these quick-thinking dogs can find escape routes out of their pens by opening locked doors and unlocking gates. They can even pick up different variations in our tone of voice while we’re giving them a command and they observe how we use our hands during training.
#8: African Grey Parrot
It’s fairly common knowledge that parrots are smart birds that can be trained to say short sentences and to mimic human speech. They’ve even been known to mimic ringing telephones and the sound of garbage trucks backing up. In A 2011 study, African Grey parrots were discovered to have skills of deduction and elimination after undergoing experiments that had them figuring out where food had been hidden, which is a type of intelligence was previously only observed in humans and in primates! Of course, their proven ability to be taught to say more than 100 words is quite impressive as well.
Believe it or not, these popular farm animals are actually trainable; in fact, their memories last up to 3 years and they can adjust to certain conditions during survival mode. Pigs also have a good sense of direction and can find their way over long distances. What’s perhaps more surprising is that a pig can also learn to play. A Penn State University professor found that all a pig needed was a joystick, a computer, and joystick-oriented video games—and the result was the pig using his snout to move the stick! That’ll do, pig.
Small and resourceful, these rodents are known to adapt very well in changing situations. They also have excellent memories since it’s said that they never forget a certain navigational route. In a 2011 study, rats even showed social intelligence: when presented with food, many of them first liberated the caged rats in the experiments so both of them could eat. In terms of communication, rats can communicate by touch, smell, and even at frequencies that we can’t hear. Rats can also recognize their names and respond when they’re called.
This reddish-brown ape is one of the most intelligent primates on Earth, alongside chimpanzees. Native to Southeast Asia, orangutans have been shown to be able to communicate with people through the use of symbols and sounds and can use tools in various applications. Orangutans can also communicate via sign language and are skilled nest builders, making new ones every evening in just a few minutes and choosing branches that support their weight.
It is said that these crafty birds actually wait patiently for a car to crack the shell of a nut. While that may be true, crows have also proven that they have reasoning abilities rivaling that of a human seven-year-old. Crows are also arguably the only non-primate animals that use tools, for example using sticks and hooks, which they use to take grub out from logs and branches. Found in almost all parts of the world, crows also have the ability to distinguish different people by recognizing facial features.
Earth’s biggest land animal is well-known for having a long memory span and an ability to show empathy towards each other. Elephants also use physical contact and vocal sounds to comfort other elephants when they are distressed. What might be more surprising is that they apparently experience grief when mourning the deaths of other members of their own species. Located in Africa and Asia, elephants also seem to understand human language and even mimic human voices.
#2: Bottlenose Dolphin
With the biggest brains of any other animals of the same size, averaging about 3.5 lbs, it’s not surprising that the bottlenose dolphin is one smart mammal. They show off their cleverness by intentionally making underwater bubble rings to amuse themselves. Studies have shown that they also have self-awareness, as proven by their ability to recognize their reflections in a mirror. Found in temperate and tropical waters around the world, bottlenose dolphins are even known to use marine sponges to avoid injuries and are intelligent problem-solvers.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
You probably guessed that our top pick was going to be this intelligent animal, as the chimpanzee, alongside the orangutan, is most often considered the smartest ape and animal of all. Native to Africa, chimps have even been known to outwit human beings, and they may have better short-term memories than humans—at least according to a 2013 study. Chimps are also skilled problem-solvers, with an ability to observe and figure out certain situations and use tools like stones and sticks when searching for food. That’s no monkey business.
Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most intelligent animal on earth?