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8 of the Most Intelligent Animals in the World

Even though humans are animals and would certainly top this list, they aren’t included in this list. In order to survive in the animal kingdom, an animal will need some level of intelligence. After all, knowing how to hunt for food and avoid predators is a form of intellect that helps ensure the survival of the animal.

However, there are some creatures considered more intelligent than others, and there are several who are thought of as the most intelligent animals out there.

The 8 Most Intelligent Animals

While some animals may not seem very smart, the truth is that all animals are intelligent in their own way. Unfortunately, we had to narrow down our list to ones that are considered the most intelligent. Keep reading to learn who made our list of the most intelligent animals.

1. Chimpanzee

A chimpanzee sitting
A chimpanzee sitting

Since humans share 99 percent of the same DNA sequence as chimpanzees, its only natural that these intelligent creatures would be added to the list. Especially when you consider the amount of research that has been done on the intelligence of these animals.

For years, scientists all over the world have agreed that chimpanzees have the ability to think in abstract ways and problem solve. Studies have also confirmed that these animals have the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors, which just goes to show that they can understand, at some degree, various abstract concepts not typically found in the wild.

2. Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin breaching
Bottlenose Dolphin breaching | image by caroline legg via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

It should come as no surprise that dolphins are on the list of the most intelligent animals. It has long been known that these marine creatures have the ability to learn and mimic.

Studies have also shown that dolphins can adapt to new situations. An example of this is that, when construction was being done in the waters they hunted in, a pod of dolphins shifted their hunting times so that they hunted during the hours when construction was not taking place.

3. Crows

crow sitting on the dead tree trunk
Crow sitting on the dead tree trunk

Crows are stunning birds with shiny black feathers and large beaks. These feathered creatures have shown to not only be extremely social, but also highly intelligent as well. In fact, crows are cable of recognizing human cases, understanding physics, and using tools.

There are even some researchers out there that feel, based on various studies, that crows are just as smart as apes. In July 2014, an article in PLOS One, a science journal, stated that a crows ability to reason is just as good as the reasoning of a 7-year-old human child.

4. Elephants

Elephant with cub on sand
Elephant with cub on sand | image by samuelrodgers752 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Elephants sometimes get mislabeled as being slow and not very smart. The truth is that these large animals have the ability to problem solve and can manipulate their surroundings to achieve a goal. To see what we mean, look no further than Kandula, an elephant living at the National Zoo in DC.

While in his enclosure, Kandula decided he wanted to obtain a piece of fruit that researchers placed out of reach. In order to obtain this fruit, Kandula moved a block so that he could stand on it to reach the price. This is something that Kandula had never done before.

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5. Pigs

Pigs inside the cage with hay
Pigs inside the cage with hay | image by
K-State Research and Extension via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Even though they have a reputation for being dirty and not very smart, pigs are actually extremely intelligent creatures. In fact, researchers at the Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science found that four of the pigs housed at the facility were able to play a video game.

While this game was rather simple, it did require the pigs to use a joystick to move a dot to a certain wall. Once the dot hit the wall, the pigs would get a treat.

6. Octopuses

Common octopus
Common octopus

Octopuses are intelligent creatures with a knack for escaping their enclosures in aquariums and causing mischief. There have even been reports of octopuses outwitting their keepers and making their way back to their natural habitat.

Octopuses also have the ability to use items they find in their surroundings as tools. To prove their intelligence, researchers have placed octopuses in various mazes, which they solved, and forced them to perform tricky tasks to obtain treat rewards.

7. Pigeons

Pigeons
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Pigeons are often looked down on and even refereed to as “rats of the sky.” In many cities, these birds are also considered a nuisance. However, these feathered creatures are extremely intelligent and have shown the ability to think, reason, and remember.

Researchers even trained pigeons to tell the difference between art created by Monet and art created by Picasso. Surprisingly, the birds were able to take what they had been taught and distinguish between the two artists even when they were presented with works of art not previously shown to them.

8. Rats

Rat eating nut
Rat eating nut

Rats are another animal that is often looked at in disgust, but have a high intelligence. One of the reasons why these animals are often used in laboratories is because of their ability to learn from what they have experienced.

Various studies have been done to test the reasoning and cognitive abilities of these creatures. During one of the many inhumane tests that have been carried out on rats, the forced swim test, the rats were able to learn and recall what the horrible test consisted of and made repeating the test difficult for the researchers.