5 surprisingly smart animals

While it is sometimes assumed that only humans possess intelligence, there are some surprisingly smart animals in this world. Here are five of them:

photo_5101_20080227Pigeons:  Scientists found that pigeons are capable of remembering and discriminating between human faces. Furthermore they were able to use  their mirror image in an experiment – but only if they were previously trained to do so.[1] Mirror tests are frequently mentioned in relation to self-awareness, but it is unclear whether passing it is a sufficient criterion for self-awareness.


Dolphins:  Also Dolphins have passed the mirror test.  In one experiment, they looked at marks, previously made on their bodies, in a mirror.[2] Dolphins are able  to do various tricks such as jumping on comment and even to teach other, non-trained dolphins some of these tricks. It was discovered that dolphins sleep with only one half of their brain in order to remain alert with the other half. Thus they were capable of actively scanning their environment for 15 days in an experiment.[3]

rat-16927_640Rats: Rats were found to possess episodic-like memory: In an experiment they predicted where a preferred food pellet ( in this case chocolate – everybody loves chocolate!) would be. The place of the pellet depended on the length of the time interval previous to the beginning of the task. Rats were able to remember this from preceding experiments and searched in the appropriate locations. Plus, they can be trained to find their way through a complex maze – an ability that decreases with age due to memory impairment.[4]

octopus-250101_1280Octopuses: The number one expression of their intelligence is their ability to predict the outcome of important sports events – such as the world cup – with almost 100% accuracy. Just kidding. Octopuses were observed being able to use tools: In one experiment, an octopus used a coconut shell half as a shelter and carried it around afterwards.[5]  Also, they are famously known for escaping from the inside of closed jars.


Crows: Crows can use tools and naturally do so in the wild: One species uses tiny sticks in order to get insects out of little holes.[6]  Furthermore they are widely known for surprising problem solving abilities. Dr Alex Taylor tried to make a crow solve several different puzzles and when this was accomplished, he rearranged them in an order previously unknown to the crow, resulting in an almost incredible video of the crow perfectly solving all 8 puzzles. Video below:

[1] http://www.intropsych.com/ch08

[3] http://www.livescience.com/
[4] http://www.sciencedirect.com/
[5] http://www.cell.com/current-biology
[6] http://www.nature.com/nature

Photo credit goes to: first 2 photographs freerange stock, last 3: pixabay

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Pigs can play video games | brandoncoop

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