QUESTION:

Which animals are the most intelligent?

ANSWER:

            The chimpanzee would be tops on every researchers list. The can make and use tools. They ban together to hunt. Chimps can solve advanced problems, learn sign language, and use symbols for objects. They can remember the name sign for humans that they have not seen in years. They form strong bonds with members of their own kind and they adhere to a strict social order. They engage in acts of violence, but also show empathy to other chimps. Kind of like humans!

            The orangutan is in that same “great ape” category. They use tools and have a very strong culture. The young stay with their mother for many years and she teaches the youngsters all they need to know to survive in the forest.

            Chimps and orangutans will grab a tree branch and use it to gauge the water’s depth before crossing a stream or bog. They have utilized a small log as a bridge to walk across a muddy patch.  Apes will employ a rock to crack open a nut.

            Beyond the apes, there is no agreement on smartest animal. But five or six would make the top ten register. Dolphins are very sociable, have a complex language, and can learn a vast array of commands to perform a wide variety of tasks. That is why they are a favorite at aquariums. They also seem to have more fun than many creatures with their leaping, whistling, racing, spinning, and surfing.

            Pigs have gotten a bad rap for their seeming lack of hygiene and gross gluttony. Pigs are very smart animals, and are as trainable as cats or dogs. They can adapt to a large variety of ecological conditions and hence are found all over the world.

            Pigs are among  the cleanest animals around. They have no sweat glands, so they wallow in the mud to stay cool. Pigs can move a cursor on a video screen with their snout and pick out objects on the screen.

            Christopher Columbus brought the first pigs to the New World in 1493 on his second of four voyages. They adapted and multiplied rapidly. The first pigs in the United States were brought from Cuba by Hernando de Soto in 1593. The British brought pigs to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. 

            Crows are members of the jay family, and clever creatures they are. They communicate in elaborate dialects and play games and tricks on each other. Crows adapt to almost any condition and are found in the countryside and also in large cities. They will take nuts from trees, place them in the street for cars to run over them to crack the shells, wait for the light to change, and then swoop in to get the soft nut meat inside. 

            Elephants clean their food, are curious, and follow human commands in captivity. They are caring and show empathy to other elephants in their group. They have been seen consoling family members. Showing empathy is considered an advanced form of intelligence. Some elephants recognize themselves in the mirror.

            It’s hard to believe that squirrels have a high intelligence rating. This is especially true when we see a squirrel dart across the road in front on our car, get most of the way across the road, only to double back, and get flattened. Squirrels are cunning fur balls, with great persistence and incredible memory. They will steal food from bird-feeders, store and cache food for lean times, and find their hidden treasures months later. Those clever devils will pretend to hide food to confuse potential thieves.

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