Smartest animals in the world

Posted on Mar 29, 2012 in Mind and senses

© Wherethelongtailends - flickr

Smartest ape we know – Koko the gorilla

Raised in an animal sanctuary, Koko the gorilla has mastered more than 1,000 words in American sign language. She has conducted an online chat on AOL and keeps a pet cat. Koko can express thoughts and emotions and her behaviour is challenging preconceptions on the limits of animal intelligence. That said, Koko still loves to eat bananas!


© Gregory Moine - flickr

Smarter than us? – The elephant fish

This small African freshwater fish has small eyes and fins and a massive hooter - hence the name. But what really sets this striking fish apart is its brain. Most fish have a brain mass less than 1% of their bodyweight, whereas the brain of this fish weighs in at a whopping 3.1% - which is 0.8% higher than humans! What this fish uses its huge brain to think about is anyone’s guess.


© Belgianchocolate - flickr

Smartest after us – The chimpanzee

We share 98.5% of the same genetic material with chimpanzees. So it’s no surprise they can recognise themselves in a mirror and can communicate using sophisticated gestures. Or that they laugh when they’re happy. They’re also excellent toolmakers, using twigs to fish for termites or rocks to crack open nuts. In fact, chimps have more in in common with us than they do with gorillas.


© Peter Schinck -

Smartest in the ocean – The dolphin

Dolphins are famously talkative but how expressive their communication is, has yet to determined. But there is no doubt they’re exceptionally fast learners and can follow complex humans instructions - they even learned how to respond to TV quicker than chimpanzees. They are also excellent toolmakers, using sponge to protect their snouts when hunting near coral and can adapt and develop smart hunting strategies based on their environment.


© Peseatore -

Smartest memory – The (female) elephant

The saying that elephants never forget has been backed by science. A study of wild African elephants revealed that dominant females build up a social memory as they get older, enabling them to recognise “friendly” faces. They signal whether an outsider is a friend or foe to the rest of the herd, allowing family members to focus on feeding and breeding when there is no danger.


© Charles Lam - flickr

Smartest bird – The crow

Crows are members of the corvid family along with ravens, rooks, magpies and jackdaws. Together with parrots, they are the smartest birds in the world as the following example demonstrates. In Japan, crows can commonly be observed placing walnuts in front of cars that have stopped at traffic lights. When the lights turn green, the birds fly away and vehicles drive over the nuts, cracking them open. When it’s time to cross again, the crows fly down to pick up their freshly prepared lunch.


© Thomas Shahan - flickr

Smartest bug – The jumping spider (Portia)

A group of jumping spiders called Portia are so crafty they are regarded as the smartest bugs in the world. Portia eat other spiders and one of their skills is to lure other spiders from their webs. They do this by playing ‘different tunes’ until the host responds. Portia will then focus solely on the tune that worked.. Portia will also sometimes try to surprise its victim by sneaking around ‘the back’ – even if it loses sight of its target. For example, the sneaky spider may spend an hour going around a tree trunk to reach its meal, but will stay focused the whole time.


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