Homo sapiens are very proud of their intellect and alleged “supremacy” well over the rest of the world’s dwellers. However, the natural realm is filled with numerous intelligent species with abilities beyond our imagination. And, if given the opportunity, they would easily outsmart some of the most brilliant people.

Animals are far more intelligent than most of us assume. Several monkeys and songbirds can utilize resources, and many primates demonstrate significant mental capabilities. By collaborating cooperatively, even minor bugs can tackle relatively tricky challenges.

Applying typical classroom intellect as a standard to evaluate an organism’s brain capacity, we generally believe that humans are the brightest species on the planet. However, these human-built exams and benchmarks only feed our presumed supremacy and illusion.

Although we can develop an acoustic system to detect a hostile torpedo, dolphins have evolved with it for a very long time.

Table of Contents

1. Octopus

Octopus | Image Credit – Pia
CapabilityInteraction, short-term memory, analytical

These cephalopod mollusks with the stamina and expertise to unscrew a container cover deserves praise! Octopus is one of the most thoughtful deep-sea organisms. Researchers are continuously uncovering new and exceptional talents in this species, which is currently poorly explained by researchers.

Octopuses are known for their ability to interact, resolve issues, maneuver passageways, and have good short-term recollections. But how can an organism belonging to the exact same family as the slug be proficient with such mastery?

The octopus’s balance of physical strength, speed, inquisitiveness, and a bunch of intellectual capacity may distinguish it from its squishy counterparts.

Although an octopus’ central nervous system is around the same size as some primates’ brains, it has a remarkable level of structure that aids it in catching dinner and avoiding attackers. Even so, its shape-shifting and cloaking talents only show a small part of this fantastic animal’s intelligence.

While the octopus has a core nervous system, three-fifths of its neurons are scattered across its eight limbs, which function as microprocessors. It is no surprise that it is so clever. An octopus was seen dragging two pieces of a coconut shell in a video, which was afterward used as a home. The intelligent species recognized that the casings would be helpful at some point in the future.

When octopuses are introduced into research laboratories, they exhibit the same intelligence. According to research, octopuses were able to identify specific human keepers. Indeed, the creatures acted differently around the individual who served them food and the one who stroked them with a stubbly pole, like any other humans or pets.

2. Dolphins

Gray Dolphin on Blue Water
Gray Dolphin on Blue Water | Image Credit – Magda Ehlers
CapabilitySelf-awareness, great food hunting skills

Dolphins have big brains in proportion to their physical proportions, making them as intelligent as songbirds and monkeys. Furthermore, the dolphin brain has more creases than the human mind, implying more extraordinary intellect.

Both dolphins and whales satisfy the mirror test for self-awareness, and they are exceptionally communal creatures with a strong sense of social identities. They also employ tools, as do other brilliant animals. For instance, they use sponges to shield their heads when consuming fish and algae on the seabed.

Several experts think that dolphins’ snaps and buzzers are a complex language, including some noises functioning as identities for dolphins. Like most of the world’s most sentient creatures, juvenile dolphins stick close to their moms throughout their teenage years to learn numerous vital lessons for life.

3. Crow

Black Crow Bird
Black Crow Bird | Image Credit – Pixabay
HabitatTrees in urban and forest areas
CapabilityNatural inventiveness, tools fabrication, pranks, and hoaxes

Although walking across the street opposing traffic rules is known as “jay-walking,” jays and other few representatives of the crow species comprehend the significance of queuing for the light to signal better than most of us.

Crows in Japanese cities have been seen plucking nuts from treetops and depositing those in the roadway for oncoming automobiles to split the casings. They then proceed to the highway to fetch their nut treats after sitting and waiting for the light to change – a remarkable demonstration of natural inventiveness.

Crows have shown the ability to make tools (such as twisting a wire string into a trap to grab flesh), recognize individuals and animals who may represent a danger, and comprehend comparisons. Their reasoning ability was even comparable to that of a 7-year-old toddler.

Crows also perform pranks and hoaxes on each other, communicating in sophisticated community-specific languages.

4. Orangutans

Orangutans Sitting on Big Rocks
Orangutans Sitting on Big Rocks | Image Credit – Antonio Friedemann
CapabilityNeurological capacities, sign language, weapon fabrication

For a unique explanation, orangutans are included among the ten most intelligent animals. The orangutan, like chimps, can use equipment, acquire sign language, and have sophisticated social systems that include ceremonies.

But, what distinguishes them is their neurological capacity to comprehend why particular procedures are in place. They can reason and understand various aspects of their lives.

Once when an orangutan was raised in confinement, he was trained to use equipment and create a small building. When he was released into the forest, experts witnessed the same orangutan inventing items from how much he could find and creating a structure with striking resemblance to provide shelter from the storm and rain.

5. Rats

Rat | Image Credit – DSD
HabitatPorts, woodlands, dumps, sewers, barns, sheds
CapabilityNavigation, clever, compassionate

Rats are commonly employed in testing facilities and have focused on extensive intelligence tests. These exceptionally intellectual rats are outstanding natural scholars who thrive at studying and comprehending topics.

Despite being much smaller than canines, they appear to be just as good at resolving issues. Rats specialize in navigating passageways despite their limited vision, and once they master a routing method, they cannot forget it at all.

Rats, like so many other clever creatures, are incredibly compassionate. According to one study, when given the option of a sweet reward, the overwhelming majority of rats studied preferred to rescue fellow rats struggling to stay above water.

6. Elephants

Large Elephants Near Lake
Large Elephants Near Lake | Image Credit – Pixabay
CapabilityGreat memory, intelligence, and analytical skills

Elephants are known for their intelligence. They have been regularly photographed, picking fleas with twigs and swatting mosquitoes with palm leaves. Elephants also possess a great memory, as evidenced by the proverb “elephants never forget.”

Elephants can identify individuals of their group even after being isolated from them for decades. And, if their present area endures a dry spell, they can recall the whereabouts of former freshwater resources.

On the other hand, their intellect may place them in conflict with their human counterparts on occasions. According to the Nature Institute, some farm owners outfit the elephants with hardwood neck bells to warn them if the mammals approach their banana fields. 

However, adolescent elephants have been witnessed filling their bells with dirt to prevent the whistles from ringing, permitting them to consume several banana trees undetected.

7. Squirrels

Gray Squirrel on Brown Wooden Fence
Gray Squirrel on Brown Wooden Fence | Image Credit – Brett Sayles
HabitatWooded areas, burrows
CapabilityStore food, deceive onlookers and concealment

Anybody who has witnessed a squirrel dash along a busy roadway has questioned if it is conscious of the risks. Maybe the puny little creature knows the risks, but if there are nuts and nourishment on the other end of the street, it may not bother much.

As per research conducted by the University of Exeter, squirrels possess quick cognition and learn from their companions, mainly when stealing edibles.

Additionally, while squirrels are reported to store foodstuffs in the autumn in readiness for the wintertime, they will occasionally merely pretend to conceal it to deceive onlookers and keep them from determining the precise whereabouts of their food source.

8. Chimpanzees

Chimpanzee on a Rock
Chimpanzee on a Rock | Image Credit – Francesco Ungaro
HabitatTropical moist forests
CapabilityFabricating weapons, manipulation

Chimpanzees, one of the oldest and closest genetic relatives of humans, are, without a doubt, very intellectual beings on the planet. They are indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa and share 98 percent of their DNA with humankind. 

Chimpanzees are skilled and vastly creative equipment users, and they have been witnessed fabricating weapons out of founding objects to get what they require on a day-to-day basis. These gigantic primates also employ psychological approaches, manipulating individuals among their communities to do specific things.

Chimpanzees make spears and several other weapons, show a spectrum of feelings, and identify themselves in mirrors and reflections. And the most outstanding fact- they can learn to communicate with humankind via sign language.

9. Pigs

Pink Pig
Pink Pig | Image Credit – Matthias Zomer
HabitatDomesticated animals on farms
CapabilityPlay computer games, recognize mirror images

Pigs can navigate mazes, recognize and express feelings, and comprehend metaphorical language. Piglets understand mirror images at a much relatively young age compared to people. When six-week-old piglets observe a meal in a reflection, they can figure out where it is located.

On the other hand, newborn human infants take about a year to grasp the concept of reflection. Pigs can also recognize abstract concepts and use this knowledge to play computer games with a joystick.

Pigs have a unique social behavior in which they stroll, feed, play, and slumber in close proximity to one another. Pigs interact with each other using 20 distinct vocal sounds, and even a neonatal pig can grasp what the mother is trying to say.

10. Ants

Macro Photo of Five Orange Ants
Macro Photo of Five Orange Ants | Image Credit – Poranimm Athithawatthee
HabitatCracks and crevices in wild and alongside humans
CapabilityCultivating fungus, enslaving fellow ants

Ants do not have giant brains because they are the tiniest members of the animal world. The ants’ sophisticated community and communicative mechanism are both perplexing and captivating.

There are over one million ants in about 12000 varieties for every human being in the world. Ants developed during the time when dinosaurs roamed the planet as traditional farmers. They started farming about 50 million years before humans. They were frequently seen cultivating a special kind of fungus and consuming them.

Fungus farming is the name given to this practice among ants. Ants built well-organized communities with agricultural parts and gathered food that stretched thousands of kilometers.

It is fascinating to note that every ant will leave a path for the next ants to follow. Certain ant species are seen to capture and enslave other individuals to develop their own massive communities.

To Conclude

But what about the millions of other species of animals? Chickens recognize forms and colors, and bees compete in dance competitions, pigeons recall images, Portia spiders employ trial-and-error, raccoons break open locks, and so on. What criteria do we use to evaluate their intelligence and aptitude?

Because there are numerous markers, such as the capability of learning new concepts, the approach to solving tasks, the use of equipment, and consciousness, determining an animal’s intelligence can be challenging. Additionally, identifying which animals are the most intelligent can encourage controversial and unexpected discoveries.

As a result, choosing the “wisest” animal is highly subjective. A more relevant topic is whether or not other animals judge our intellect. And, if that’s the case, how do we compare?

(Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!