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We humans tend to think we're pretty smart. We've got descriptive language. We've got art and can build museums in which to showcase it. The flip side, of course, is that we've also learned to build bombs. But as we learn more about the rest of the animal world, it's becoming pretty clear that other beasts are pretty darn intelligent. Chimpanzees, bonobos and other primates and great apes get a lot of recognition for their brains, but for this list, we're looking a little farther afield in the ocean, on farms for the smartest non-primates.
Pigs Neat human trick:Slide 2 of 11
Pigs Neat human trick:
As it turns out, being piggy is actually a pretty smart tactic pigs are probably the most intelligent domesticated animal on the planet. Although their raw intelligence is most likely commensurate with a dog or cat, their problem-solving abilities top those of felines and canine pals.
One study showed that domestic pigs can quickly learn how mirrors work and will use their understanding of reflected images to scope out their surroundings for food. The researchers cannot yet say whether the animals realize that the eyes in the mirror are their own, or whether pigs might rank with apes, dolphins and other species that have passed the famed mirror self-recognition test thought to be a marker of self-awareness and advanced intelligence.
In a 1990s experiment, pigs were trained to move a cursor on a video screen with their snouts and used the cursor to distinguish between scribbles they knew and those they were seeing for the first time. They learned the task as quickly as chimpanzees.Slide 3 of 11
OctopusesNeat human trick:Slide 4 of 11
OctopusesNeat human trick:
If pigs are the most intelligent of the domesticated species, octopuses take the cake for invertebrates. Experiments in maze and problem-solving have shown that they have both short-term and long-term memory. Octopuses can open jars, squeeze through tiny openings, and hop from cage to cage for a snack. They can also be trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. In a kind of play-like activity one of the hallmarks of higher intelligence species octopuses have been observed repeatedly releasing bottles or toys into a circular current in their aquariums and then catching them.
The octopus is the only invertebrate which has been shown to use tools. At least four specimens have been witnessed retrieving discarded coconut shells, manipulating them, and then reassembling them to use as shelter.Slide 5 of 11
CrowsNeat human trick:Slide 6 of 11
CrowsNeat human trick:
In many branches of mythology, the crow plays a shrewd trickster, and in the real world, crows are proving to be quite a clever species. Crows have been found to engage in feats such as tool use, the ability to hide and store food from season to season, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use personal experience to predict future conditions.
One species, the New Caledonian Crow, has been witnessed using knife-like tools cut from stiff leaves, and it will drop tough nuts onto streets busy with cars to smash them open. Crows in Queensland, Australia, have even learned how to safely eat a species of toxic cane toad. They flip the frog on its back and stab its throat, where its poisonous skin is the thinnest, in order to munch on the non-toxic innards.
Recent research suggests that crows have the ability to recognize one individual human from another by facial features, and that they can remember human faces for years. So be careful when you cross a crow.Slide 7 of 11
DolphinsNeat human trick:Slide 8 of 11