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6 of the Smartest Animals After Humans

It’s no secret that humans are the smartest animals on the planet. But what are the second smartest animals? The third, fourth, and beyond?

It’s very difficult for scientists or anyone for that matter to rank them in this way, but after sharing this planet with thousands of species of animals for so long we do know which animals are among the smartest.

Below is a list of some of the smartest animals on the planet (not including us). Some of them, like dolphins, won’t come as a surprise but others may.

Photo collage smartest animals after humans

6 of the smartest animals on earth after humans


Chimps are arguably the smartest non-human animals on the planet. They have just a 1.23% genetic difference from humans and resemble us in many ways. They are highly social, self aware animals that are able to do things such as use tools, solve problems, and even communicate with humans through sign-language they are taught.

In-depth study of Chimpanzees began in the 1960s, an effort led by Jane Goodall. More is known today about the lives and habits of chimps than ever, and we’re still learning about these amazing animals.


When it comes to intelligent birds many people immediately think of parrots, or other birds known for talking. While these birds are intelligent they don’t hold a candle to corvids and the crow family, ravens in particular.

Ravens exhibit intelligence that puts them right up there with the likes of chimps and dolphins making them not only the smartest bird on the planet but among the smartest animals in general.

They have been known to solve complex problems in order to get food, play dead next to an animal carcass making other birds believe the meat is bad, and even learn to talk and mimic noises they hear better than parrots. Recent studies have also shown ravens and crows can remember individual human faces, and even hold grudges against people who harm them or cheat them out of food.


I think it’s safe to say that for most people, dolphins immediately come to mind when thinking of smart animals. We know that dolphins in captivity have been trained to do some amazing things, we’ve all seen videos of it. Some of us have seen it in person.

Aside from the tricks they are known for performing dolphins have been known to show human-like feelings such as empathy, grief, and joy. They are self-aware, can solve problems and use tools to do so making them among the smartest animals in the world.


These exceptionally smart animals have the largest brains of any land animal on the planet. That doesn’t necessarily make them the smartest but they are definitely in the same category cognitively with chimpanzees and dolphins. Like dolphins, they are also one of the few species of animals that can show human emotions.

They have even been known to mourn their dead. There have been reports that they may even make attempts to bury elephants in their herd that have died. Problem solving and communication is something that elephants have excelled at and they also have amazing memories, hence the term “an elephant never forgets.”

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Pigs are highly intelligent animals. The cognitive abilities of an adult pig have been compared a human toddler, placing them above dogs and cats in intelligence. Testing has even been done with pigs playing video games. They surprised everyone by learning the games and getting better at them. In similar tests, dogs had no clue what they were doing.

Pigs are very social animals that recognize other pigs they know. If they see unfamiliar pigs as strangers, they treat them accordingly. They have also been known to exhibit manipulative qualities in order to get what they want, which to me is a very human-like quality.

I have seen reports that they are ranked as “the fifth smartest animal on the planet” but I’m not sure how that claim can be verified. Regardless, I put them in the fifth spot on this list of smartest animals.


The octopus is a very private creature that keeps to itself in the wild. Most of what we know about their intelligence is based on what we’ve seen when they are in captivity. They’re smart, elusive, and mysterious creatures that are likely much smarter than we ever thought possible.

Here are a few things that octopus have been reported doing:

  • Escaping a tank into an adjacent tank to eat a fish, then returning to it’s own tank
  • Screwing open jars from both the inside and out
  • Making tools out of coconuts and shells
  • Even escaping their tanks and making their way back to the ocean!