These Animals Are The Smartest In The World. Who Knew!?

Researchers and scientists strive to know as much as they possibly can about the world around us, including all the animal species. “Today, animal cognition scientists avoid viewing humans as the apex of intellect and look at animals not as dumb furry humans, but as intelligent species that view the world in fundamentally different ways,” wrote Clint Perry for ScienceX. The ability to use tools links to intelligence and is a skill only a few animals have. We used to think it was something only humans could pull off, but we were wrong. Keep reading, and you’ll find out which animals are the brightest in the world.

Don’t Knock A Squirrel’s Intelligence

GettyImages-538211958
Gary Miller/Getty Images
Gary Miller/Getty Images

One can correlate squirrels’ intelligence directly with their ability to hide food. These high-energy creatures reveal their smarts when someone looks at them while they’re “burying” food. They’ll quickly put the object under an armpit and make-believe that they put it in the hole they just dug.

Afterward, the squirrel will run off and really hide the snacks. The smarts they possess allow them to live in close proximity to humans and continue thriving without much of an issue.

Horses Know How To Communicate

horse riding
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Horses and humans have had a close partnership for the past few centuries. Along the way, the creatures have picked up smart ways to communicate with people. During a research session, scientists would place carrots away from a horse, but near a human. That’s when the horse tried to get the person’s attention, in an attempt to obtain the tasty orange vegetable.

In a different study, horses learned to touch symbols to communicate whether they wanted a blanket or not. The outstanding part is that they didn’t choose randomly but instead based on the weather. If it was windy or cold, they elected for the blanket, and vice-versa if it was warm.

A Rat’s Quest

tiny rat coming out of a hole
Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images
Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why scientists use rats in labs? It’s because they’re social and smart, much like humans. They’re able to count and keep time, something they’ve demonstrated when taught how to press a button every 15 seconds.

Another telling sign is that they’re altruistic, which means they help fellow rats when there’s no benefit in it for them. These little guys even can feel happiness or become depressed. They enjoy getting tickled as well.

Do You Own A Cat?

cat wearing a hat
TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images
TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images

Cats and humans have similar brains. The cerebral cortex of a cat is more advanced than a dog’s and has 140 million more neurons as well. That doesn’t mean they’re smarter necessarily, but they’re better problem-solvers for sure.

A cat is less patient than a dog, but they do take cues from their owners involving new experiences and items. The main issue with uncovering the full genius of felines is that they’re harder to research, but there’s still a sound base of information about them.

Man’s Best Friend!

dog surfing
Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Human men aren’t the brightest, but they chose a pretty intelligent animal as their best friend! Canines help police, the disabled, and many others, all without complaining. And it only takes a little training.

Dogs evolved alongside humans, which helped them excel at fulfilling our needs. Recent studies reveal that pooches are smarter than horses, cats, and other comparable animals. This is due to scientists spending lots of time learning about them, which provides us with more evidence of dogs’ intelligence.

Eight Helpful Tentacles, One Smart Brain

an oracle octopus
ROLAND WEIHRAUCH/DPA/AFP via Getty Images
ROLAND WEIHRAUCH/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

Octopuses are incredibly smart creatures. They, along with their cuttlefish and squid relatives, are the brightest invertebrates alive. It’s a fact that many aquariums have a hard time keeping them captive due to their craftiness and ability to flee from most enclosures.

Have you ever known another animal that can solve puzzles? When they’re in the wild, octopuses use tools like coconut shells that they carry along the seafloor to use as mobile hideouts. That’s clever thinking.

The Trash Pandas

this is an active raccoon
Natalia FedosenkoTASS via Getty Images
Natalia FedosenkoTASS via Getty Images

They’re called “trash pandas,” but that’s just a front for the intelligent raccoon. The curious creatures are creative with their approach to things, as they don’t take conventional routes to achieve what they want or need.

In an intelligence test consisting of food placed in a tube along with a low level of water, the snack is too low for the raccoons to reach. Instead of doing what other animals did (filling up the container with rocks to make the water rise), a raccoon jumped on top of it. It rocked the tube until it toppled over in order to grab the tasty snack.

A Baboon’s Life

a smart baboon
Paula Bronstein /Getty Images
Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

Baboons aren’t apes, but they’re one of the smarter bunches in the family tree. When researchers did a study asking them to pick a cup with the most peanuts, baboons displayed their ability to understand numbers and math.

The only thing is that when the difference between the cups was minimal, the baboons had a harder time. It’s like they were children who hadn’t quite learned how to count yet. But when the cups had a significant discrepancy, it was a piece of cake for them!

Ravens Are Smart Birds

a crow looking out on a tree
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Ravens and crows defy the negative term, “birdbrain.” Scientists used to think that only apes and humans had the power to plan, but ravens proved them wrong. They found that this winged creature will choose a particular item out of a lineup that provides them with a treat, even if it means waiting until many hours later.

The shocking thing is that young children and monkeys didn’t pass this test, but the ravens handled it with flying colors.

Mighty And Intelligent Whales

whale in the ocean
OLIVIER MORIN/AFP via Getty Images
OLIVIER MORIN/AFP via Getty Images

Something whales and humans have in common is their complex social lives. Sperm whales use local dialects to talk with each other, like how some people use “pop” instead of “soda.” They also learn from one another.

These creatures of the sea pass down information from generation to generation, too. Something special about them is they have an altruistic behavior, meaning they act unselfishly in certain situations. Not every animal has that much social intelligence.

The Life Of A Wolf

wolf with girl on the back
SERGEI GAPON/AFP via Getty Images
SERGEI GAPON/AFP via Getty Images

While dogs get more attention because we “own” them and can train them efficiently, wolves might be smarter than man’s best friend. They’re able to understand things that their domesticated cousins do, like pointing and eye contact.

In an experiment with a setup involving cheese and strings, the wolves made the right choice every time. Meanwhile, the dogs kept picking the same option, even after researchers switched which side they’d get food from.

It’s A Pig’s World

this pig swims
Frogfish Photography / Barcroft via Getty Images
Frogfish Photography / Barcroft via Getty Images

For many, pigs are just a source of food and not much more. Pigs have their own personalities and emotions, including empathy. They’re quick to notice how another pig feels and will adopt similar feelings. These smart creatures also have long term memories.

Their dark side is that they possess the ability to trick others when it comes to food. They also can understand mirrors, something many animals aren’t able to figure out on their own.

More Than Just An Annoying Bird

a cooling crow
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Crows aren’t only some annoying birds flocking on your rooftop. These creatures are quite intelligent. They understand cause and effect, which they put on display when figuring out how to obtain food from a water tube.

They’re able to communicate with one another, but one thing you don’t want is to get on their bad side. Crows can remember the faces of those who disrespected them and will tell other crows all about it. They won’t forget the face of the person that did them wrong for years.

Are You Smarter Than A Parrot?

a parrot and the friend
Suleyman Elcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Suleyman Elcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A Harvard graduate student bought a parrot named Alex from the pet store, and this bird showed incredible signs of intelligence. The student taught Alex more than one hundred English words. It could count, and also recognized shapes and colors. Oh yeah, and Alex knew how to add.

The ability to speak English is something nonhuman primates have yet to master. Though Alex could communicate in a rudimentary way, he couldn’t use logic. Scientists believe being social leads to the evolution of intelligence, and parrots are quite personable.

Gorillas Are Ahead Of The Class

a looking gorilla
Rebecca Sapp/WireImage
Rebecca Sapp/WireImage

There was a famous gorilla named Koko who passed away in 2018 but not before exhibiting many pure signs of genius. Koko could understand 2,000 spoken words and could communicate in sign language with more than a thousand signs.

Koko was a natural with pretty much everything taught to her. She was able to differentiate colors and sign what the item was. She could also use a sink and even draw things with a pen. Koko was practically as smart as a young kid and even had her own pet cats that she loved.

Remember, They Never Forget

elephant helping girl
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

An elephant’s intelligence is something that should never be underestimated. Elephants from Africa learned how to distinguish between various human languages and speakers on their own. For example, some elephants figured that specific male speakers are threats since they are hunters.

Elephants also show signs of empathy as they grieve their dead. They can help solve puzzles and recognize themselves in mirrors. Elephants also have better self-control than most animals around tantalizing food, more so than crows.

Amazing Chimps

a chimp in an apron
China Photos/Getty Images
China Photos/Getty Images

Chimps made headlines as the first nonhuman animal to use tools. After that, they continued to drop jaws with their intelligence. They’ve figured out how to use sticks to catch insects and also use them as spears to get their food.

In memory games, they’ve outperformed some adult humans! Much like other smarter animals, chimpanzees show their empathetic side by consoling one another. Their social lives are also complex, which may contribute to their overall intelligence.

The Cousin Of Chimps, Bonobos

the monkey breed
Laurentiu Garofeanu/ Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images
Laurentiu Garofeanu/ Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images

Chimpanzees are smart and all, but are they more intelligent than bonobos? One bonobo named Kanzi grew up surrounded by relatives and researchers, and they taught him how to communicate using more than 300 symbols.

Kanzi could start a fire, comprehend about 3,000 English words, and roast his own marshmallows. The primate also enjoys watching movies, which he selects by pressing buttons. Some apes are incredibly advanced, and bonobos are some of the brightest.

The Clever And Crafty Orangutan

a watermelon eating orangutan
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

While they aren’t a human’s closest relative, evidence suggests that orangutans are smarter than chimpanzees. Orangutans like to plan out their routes for the day before getting starting, something you don’t see in many other animals. They also inform other orangutans about those plans.

An orangutan also has the capacity to fully use an iPad! They’re able to communicate with humans about objects, food, and abstract things by using symbols, just like their bonobo cousins. Their ability to understand abstract concepts helps set them apart from the rest of the animal world.

Humans’ Equals In The Sea

Dwyane Wade with dolphin
Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego via Getty Images
Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego via Getty Images

Humans might reign supreme on land, but in the sea, that title belongs to dolphins. They’re creative thinkers who enjoy having a good time by playing tag or even sliding off the back of a humpback whale.

A dolphin will hunt using a sponge or conch shell to help capture their fish. Something even more astounding is that they have their own names, or “signature whistles.” They’ll respond promptly when they hear their own whistle. They might also know how to gossip because they’ll use another dolphin’s whistle when he or she isn’t around to hear it!