The Attribute Of Smartness In Animal World

Catalina Toma

Written by Catalina Toma
Posted in: Environment
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We often use the word intelligence in our conversation when referring to a certain person from our surroundings or when we engage ourselves in long philosophical polemics. But since we all keep talking about intelligence, did you ever ask yourself what exactly is it? The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines this term as “the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situation” – I’d paraphrase this by saying that in short it all comes down to the ability one possesses to adapt to one’s environment, yet there is more to intelligence than just this as the term also refers to”the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)”. We often tend to think rather presumptuous that intelligence is the attribute of people only, and those who think that this is some kind of ultimate truth would be perhaps surprised to discover that animals too can be referred to in terms of smart and less smart. Of course I am going to dedicate this article to the smartest animals sheltered between the imaginary walls of our planet.

Some of you may envisage intelligence as some sort of a weapon used in various degrees by animals in order to ensure their survival. It may be a weapon considerably used by some species and only fractionally by other species.

Now let’s take a step into the wonderful and magical world of smart animals. I intend to take these animals one by one and introduce you too in their wonderful world.

So, enough talk, let’s do some research now! I will start by mentioning some animals which are considered to resemble us in many ways. Some may agree to this idea, some may not! Even so, this disagreement doesn’t spoil anything since we deem to be living in a free democratic world in which one can freely express his opinions. As most of you have probably already guessed I am talking about apes. Many scientists consider these animals to be some sort of close relatives to us. And if you ever had the curiosity to take

a close look at some monkeys or even a gorilla or why not a chimpanzee then you most surely were able to find some similarities with us. No matter how funny or outraging this may sound if you ever had the curiosity to look closely and compare our hands with theirs you would be able to see that they look very much the same. And even more, it has been discovered that  we happen to share the same diseases and even some blood types. Of course we tend to consider ourselves superior to them, yet before doing this you should perhaps find more information about them.

Did you know that chimps have developed rather complicated hunting tactics which in fact involve such things as what we nowadays label as teamwork or mutual effort, leadership since in case you didn’t know they are very much aware of the existence of a certain rank organization in their society. Moreover they seem to be able to understand much of what we say and as such they learned the tricks of gambit and equivocation. Some even said that at times they may happen to feel ignored if not appropriately rewarded. You probably know that scientists carried numerous researches in their case, but did you know that much like in the case of men it has been discovered that the species known under the name of rhesus macaques are even capable to give something in exchange, fruits in their case, in order to be able to cast glances at photographs of let’s say more or less dressed or covered women? This certainly makes some of you smile since let’s face it; it is quite an image to try to imagine! If this didn’t manage to convince you that they are smart then perhaps the fact that surprisingly or not they are able to experience strong emotions themselves and at the same time empathize with the ones around him will. It should perhaps come as no surprise since it looks like we share a quite large percent of genes, namely 98%. In case you do no believe that we resemble them in many ways should start researching more information about an already famous gorilla named Koko. You’d be most surely surprised or better said mesmerized to see what this gorilla was capable of.

But, since apes are not the only smart animals I am going to continue my babbling on this subject. I shall go on mentioning the already known smartness of dolphins. In case you only considered them cute animals and nothing more then you should know that there is more to them than just this; they have been endowed by nature with various attributes such as the capacity to comprehend and discern things as well as the ability to display emotions and at times try to even solve problems. Did you know that it has been discovered that they can even display compassion for other animals as well? If this doesn’t make them the smartest then what can!

But, this smart list of smart animals should also include elephants, these huge moving tanks as they once used to be labeled as when being used as animal weapons in wars carried between people. You all probably heard at some point in your life someone referring to someone else’s memory as the memory of an elephant. Most often we use these words to praise someone’s ability to store huge amounts of information in one’s memory. And we are not mistaken to use it since it is believed that elephants are to be considered some sort of genii in the animal world. Being able to remember the exact food and water locations even though they haven’t been in those places for quite a while and having the largest brain among their fellow animals, I dare proclaim these animals among the top smart animals. Not only are they incredible listeners but they are also masters of communication too as they use various means in order to do this. What means you would probably be asking? Well, all those roars and bellows certainly serve as means of communication. Did you know that they even morn their dead? It has even been discovered that they are able to use tools, being a living sample of high intelligence. And amazingly enough some elephants living in Thailand were even trained to paint portraits depicting elephants. You may feel the need to pinch yourself when coming across the video proving this yet perhaps you should interpret it as another veritable proof of their intelligence.

What about parrots? In case you don’t have one yourself you most surely heard about them and their capacity to copycat human language. Not only that they are able to utter words but furthermore they are able to even bring words together and form sentences. Which species of parrots can do this? The answer would be the African Grey parrot. Great artists when it comes to mimic as they can mimic almost anything from songs, to various sounds they may happen to hear, and even mimic voices. So if you happen to have such a parrot and you hear it talking behind your back imitating you then you should not be nervous but rather amused instead. I could even hear a story about a parrot that getting lost and injured it was able to provide the name of its master and the actual address where it lived. Now dare to say that the Gray parrot is not smart!

When it comes to birds crows too are to be labeled as intelligent ones. Despised by many of us for their noisy behavior you would be perhaps surprised to hear that they have a relatively large brain compared to their body weight. When talking about IQ in the avian world they are the ones being awarded the gold medal. Did you know that crows are somehow able to count and even more to distinguish between different shapes and as well absorb information like some sort of a sponge? People who took their time to observe them even said that they are so smart as they can even think about throwing nuts on the street and then waiting for the cars to run over them and as such be able to feed themselves with those nuts. It may seem pretty much science fiction to many of you, yet as there were many voices stressing over this fact then I declare myself beaten too, crows are smart birds.

They sometimes end on our plate and in fact many consider these animals delicious. I am referring to Mr. Octopus. When having on your plate an octopus you probably do not care about its amazing capacity to learn and even master problem solving in an excellent manner too. When it comes to mimicry they most surely developed a real talent, being at times considered real masters of deception. Some even compared the octopus with Houdini. I am not sure whether this is the proper comparison to make, yet I am pretty sure that they are amazingly smart creatures.

We find them cute and children love them as many times we happen to take a walk into the park we may come across them. I am talking about squirrels which interesting enough seem to be the owners of an impeccable memory. Have you ever paid any attention to them for longer periods of time? If you had then you probably noticed that they would do almost anything to feed themselves; they might even be willing to come close to you to grab the much desired nut directly from your hand. They certainly do possess the necessary cleverness to trick many of you being what many would label as intelligent animals.

When talking about animals and their rather unusual abilities we shall refer to the fact that amazingly enough there are even some insects which possess the rather bewildering capacity to make use of prime numbers in order to make up their mind regarding the moment when they shall breed. They do this in order to protect themselves from possible predators. The talented mathematicians in this case are some species of Cicada.

If you ever watched ‘Ratatouille’ then you most surely know that the next smart animal on my list is the rather miserable, disgusting rat. They were even trained along the times to trace landmines and bombs and as such they are to be considered even smarter. It has been even discovered that they are able to display signs of remorse, agitation and even anxiety.

Surprisingly enough pigs are considered by many to be smartest than dogs. It is true that they sometimes happen to be considered a delicacy too but they are also said to be just the perfect animals to be trained. Did you know that if given an alternative they would not urinate in the area where they live? We most often associate them with mud and dirt but things seem to be different in reality.

Now after pigs I find it very normal to introduce you to what many consider to be the smartest animals of this planet, namely humans. Some may be surprised of my choice, some may find it amusing. Regardless the side you’d prefer to adhere to you would have to recognize that at times we tend to act like Tarzan and hitting ourselves with the fist in the chest we claim to be just about the greatest and of course undeniably the smartest ones. Would this be the ultimate truth? I tried to prove up to now that in fact there are so many animals finding themselves in some sort of a competition with us, or not necessarily in competition, in order to be awarded the gold medal for smartness and be recognized as being part of this category. After all who doesn’t want to be referred to in eulogistic terms such as “smart, beautiful, elegant, etc.”?11

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