The animal kingdom is full of strange and wonderful creatures, but it’s clear that those with the biggest brains are often the smartest and among the most fascinating. Animals with large brains tend to be mammals like humans, though not always. Some birds also have brains that are proportionally larger than those of other animals!
Let’s learn more about some of them and find out what these relatively big-brained animals are capable of!
11 Animals with large brains
1. Sperm Whale
Scientific Name: Physeter catodon
The Sperm Whale is one of the world’s largest marine mammals. It can grow to be 78 feet long and 55 tons in weight. The Sperm Whale has a very large mouth that suctions to ingest smaller animals such as sharks, squids, and fish.
Sperm whales have the world’s largest brain, weighing 20 pounds and being five times the size of a human brain. However, this doesn’t imply that they’re smarter than humans. It’s believed that this allows the sperm whale to be able to process sound and communicate with other members of its species.
Scientific Name: Pongo pygmaeus
Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animal in the world. They live in Southeast Asia, particularly in Borneo and Sumatra, and are found in tropical forests, rainforests, and swamps. They’re also known as the “forest people.”
Orangutans have large brains for their body size, which means they can learn and develop complex skills. They have also been observed to have distinct personalities and exhibit advanced social behavior.
These animals can learn sign language and communicate with humans. Orangutans are also known to be one of the most intelligent land animals on the planet.
3. Blue Whales
Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus
The blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth, reaching lengths of 78 feet and weighing up to 165 tons. They also have the largest brains of any animal, weighing 9 kg. These animals are highly intelligent and have excellent communication systems in place.
This large mammal can be found in every ocean on the planet, with the largest populations concentrated in the Southern Hemisphere. They prefer colder waters with more krill, but they can be found from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
Scientific Name: Corvus corax
Ravens are a type of bird in the corvid family, which includes crows and magpies. They’re the largest birds in their family and have the largest absolute brain size of any corvid. So relative to other birds, they do have large brains. You can find these birds throughout the United States and most of Canada.
They have a large brain relative to their body size, and are considered one of the most intelligent animals on Earth. These birds have been observed making and using tools, as well as solving problems by thinking them through rather than relying solely on instinct. They primarily consume small mammals, berries, and even bird eggs.
Scientific Name: Elephas maximus
Elephants are among the largest animals on the planet, as well as among the most intelligent. Their large brain allows them to be quick learners and problem-solvers. They also have a complex social structure and are extremely sensitive to their surroundings.
Elephants live in savannahs, deserts, forests, and marshes of Africa and Asia. They’re big mammals that eat grasses, shrubs, trees, and herbs. These animals are also known for having long tusks that they use for self-defense, food gathering, and lifting objects.
Scientific Name: Delphinus delphis
Dolphins are marine mammals that live in warm water throughout the world’s oceans. Depending on the species, they can be found in groups or alone. These creatures eat fish, crustaceans, and squid.
Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals on the planet. Dolphins have big brains that they can use for communication, tool use, and problem-solving. They can recognize themselves in the mirror and understand abstract concepts in the same way that great apes do.
Scientific Name: Pan troglodytes
Chimpanzees are a type of ape that lives in Africa’s rainforests. These animals are very similar to humans and share nearly 98% of our DNA. Chimpanzees, while not as large as gorillas or orangutans, can grow to be 3 feet tall and weigh up to 130 pounds.
They have large brains and can solve problems, use tools, communicate using complex vocalizations, and even use basic human sign language, which most animals cannot. Chimpanzees are also omnivores, eating mostly plants, fruits, and insects.
Scientific Name: Octopus vulgaris
You can find an octopus in nearly every ocean on the planet, but they prefer shallow waters and coral reefs. They’re carnivores that eat mostly crabs, shellfish, mollusks, and other cephalopods found on the sea floor. An octopus can grow 4 feet long and has an average lifespan of about 2 years.
They’re among the most intelligent creatures on the planet. These sea creatures have large brains and can solve problems and make decisions. They also have a complex vision, allowing them to detect colors and mimic their surroundings.
Scientific Name: Gorilla beringei
Gorillas are among the apes with the largest brains. Their natural habitat is in Africa’s tropical and montane forests. They also consume leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark as part of their diet.
These intelligent animals can use tools to help them survive in the wild. Gorillas are known for having rich emotional lives, as well as the ability to laugh and cry. They’re also extremely powerful animals, capable of lifting ten times their body weight.
Scientific Name: Melopsittacus undulatus
Parrots are among the bird species with large brains. Due to their curved beaks, these large birds are also known as hookbills.
They have a very large brain for their body size, which allows them to learn new things quickly. Parrots can also communicate with humans by mimicking sounds and words.
Their natural habitat includes tropical forests in Asia, Africa, and America. They prefer areas with a high concentration of fruit-bearing trees or other food sources, such as insects or seeds that grow on the ground.
Scientific Name: Orcinus orca
Orcas are the largest members of the dolphin family. They’re also known as killer whales, despite the fact that they’re dolphins, not whales.
Killer whales have a black and white appearance, with a white belly and grey patches on their backs. They can grow to be up to 26 feet long and weigh up to 4 tons.
These species also have large brains for their body size, which allows them to communicate with one another via clicks and whistles, allowing them to organize into pods that hunt together. Orcas have been known to spend their entire lives in the same pod.