Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Smartest Animals

After I wrote about the smartness of dogs yesterday, I started wondering which animals were the smartest ones in the whole world. Of course, I was sure that dogs were the smartest, but when I found a list on the Animal Planet site of the Top Ten Smartest Animals, I was really shocked to see that dogs weren't on the list at all.  And neither were cats.  Or horses.  So I'm thinking that there is some huge mistake in this list, but I'm going to tell you what it says anyway, and you can decide for yourself.

Number 10:  THE RAT
Rats are all the time being used in labs to run through mazes and stuff like that, but they can often find shortcuts or ways to escape from these tests.  Which is funny because the scientists who thought up the tests are supposedly very intelligent.  Rats have figured out how to live on every continent except Antarctica.  The Chinese think rats are clever and resourceful, which is why there is a Year of the Rat.  So for all these reasons, rats are one of top ten smartest animals.

Number 9:  THE OCTOPUS
I couldn't believe that such a weird-looking thing that lives way down in the ocean could possibly be smarter than a dog, but I guess that's what the scientists think.  Octopi have fairly big brains, with folds and lobes and separate parts to deal with seeing and with touching.  Octopi are curious about all kinds of stuff, and they like to play.  Also they can solve problems such as opening a jar lid or finding their way through a maze.

Number 8:  THE PIGEON
Pigeons have been studied a lot, and the reason for that is because there are so darned many of them.  They can learn to recognize hundreds of different images, and they can remember these images several years later.  If they look in a mirror, they can figure out that they are seeing themselves and not some other pigeon.  Also they can learn to do several movements in a special order.

It's hard for me to believe that an animal who is always getting run over in the street can be Number 7 on the Smartest List, but I am just reporting the results of my research.  Of course, anybody who ever had squirrels living in their attic will know that these animals can be very clever at getting into places.  Also squirrels have learned to live close to people and to get food by stealing it out of the bird feeder or eating garden flowers.  In the fall, squirrels hide hundreds of nuts, and then they remember where they hid them, so they can go back and eat them later.  And sometimes they only pretend to hide a nut because they want to trick any other squirrel or animal who might steal it.  Oh, and here's something interesting about squirrels who live in California:  sometimes they cover their fur with the scent of rattlesnakes so that the snakes will be fooled and not eat them.

Number 6:  THE PIG
Pigs can learn to live in all kinds of different conditions, and they can pretty much eat whatever type of food is around, so this is a big advantage for them.  Pigs can also learn to do tricks, just like dogs and cats can, but I have to say that I have never heard of a pig doing agility.  Back in the 1990s, some pigs learned to do tests on a computer by using their snouts to move the cursor around and show which scribble on the screen was new and which one they already knew.  When they did these tests, they learned them as fast as chimpanzees did.

Number 5:  THE CROW
These big black birds can make all kinds of interesting sounds to talk to each other, and sometimes they even play tricks on each other.  They can make tools out of stuff like twigs and feathers, and then they use the tools to get hold of food that is hard to reach.  Sometimes crows who live in the city will gather nuts from the trees and then put them in the street so that cars can run over them and crack them open.  There are scientists who think that crows are even smarter than chimpanzees.

Elephants have been known to use tools sometimes, and also to clean their food.  They are curious about all kinds of things, and they are very caring to other members of their herd or even to other species.  They like to play in water, and they can communicate with vibrations that they feel through their feet.  In captivity, elephants can learn to do tricks and obey commands.  Some elephants have recognized themselves when they looked in a mirror.

Great apes are thought to be very smart, and orangutans may be the most intelligent of the apes.  They have strong social bonds with other members of their group, and can communicate well with each other.  Young orangutans stay with their mothers for many years while they learn everything their mothers can teach them.

Number 2:  THE DOLPHIN
Dolphins are very social and easy to train, which is why they are in so many shows such as Sea World.  Whole schools of dolphins like to play around with each other, doing stuff like leaping, surfing, and whistling.  They can talk to each other with a special dolphin language, and humans have only just started understanding a little of this language.  Dolphin babies stay with their mothers for several years so they can learn a whole bunch of stuff.

Chimps are the great apes that are the most like humans, so of course they are first on this list of smart animals that humans put together.  But I have to admit that chimpanzees can do some pretty amazing things.  First of all, they can make tools and use them, and they are good at solving problems.  They live in groups that are well organized, with a chief chimp and then everybody else in some position below that.  People have been able to teach chimps sign language, and then the chimps were able to join words together into sentences.  A group of chimps can make war on another group, kind of like people do, but they can also be sympathetic and caring to each other.

So anyway, there it is, the list of the Top Ten Smartest Animals.  I still think it was a mistake to leave dogs out, but I'm not sure who I should complain to about this.  As soon as I find the person who made the mistake, I'll ask them to fix it!


  1. hmmmm . . . i think it's interesting that the human animal wasn't listed. do you think it was accurate or an oversite?

    --Zest, superstar in training

    1. You r right, the human animal is the smartest. Especially me, (just joking :) I'm as dumb as a dingo!) I still think dolphins deserve to b top though. Especially since they are so cute. I am totally animal mad. May I just say i think u r clever pointing that out. I think they were meaning animal as in animal animal, if u get what I mean.

  2. I think they are considering humans to be the very smartest of all, and then the rest of the list is the animals who are also sort of smart!

  3. Dear Piper,
    I don't care what's on the list, you are always going to be the smartest animal to me! ♫♪
    YOUR #1 fan, Tas

  4. Thank you, Tas. You always say the nicest (and truest) things about me!
    Love, Piper

  5. I think u r the best animal ever.
    U r obviously the smartest dog ever.
    I think u personally should be on the list!

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      I am blushing! You are so nice to say that I am the best and smartest animal ever! Not everybody recognizes this about me, so I think you are very clever yourself.
      Sincerely, Piper

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