Dolphins and chimps seem to get all the limelight, what with their fancy self-recognition and sign language abilities. But they aren’t the only animals smarter than your toddler, oh no! If dolphins are the NASA spokespeople of the animal world, then the following creatures are the homelier engineers and astrophysicists that do the real work. Please forgive these analogies.
Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos): These grim-looking eaters of carrion are highly intelligent. Studies have shown that they can identify human faces, use tools to catch food, and learn by observation. Crows in Australia have been able to hunt the poison-skinned cane toads by flipping the amphibians onto their backs and eating their innards. This practice has spread from group to group via observation. It is also thought that crows have episodic memory. So the next time you look into the black eyes of the crow in front of your house, remember that it probably recognizes you.
|I'm constantly watching you.|
Pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus): These hideous and thoroughly un-kosher beasts are surprisingly intelligent. Pigs crave novelty and love investigating things with their snouts. As pets, they can learn tricks and are often compared to dogs. They can also be trained to hunt truffles, much as a bloodhound is trained to hunt murder victims. So, the next time you eat bacon, remember that you’re eating an animal that is likely smarter than your dog.
|Smarter than your dalmatian.|
Octopuses (Octopus vulgaris): Yes! The plural of octopus is octopuses and NOT octopi! Now that we know that we can move one. These eight-legged freaks of the deep are super smart, which scares me. They have both long and short-term memory and can learn to navigate mazes. In labs, they can identify different objects and shapes. They also seem to enjoy playing with toys. Unlike any other known invertebrate, octopuses can use tools. In aquariums, they are notorious escape artists. Perhaps the creepiest aspect of octopus intelligence is the fact they learn little from their parents. They just seem to know things.
|In my garden, under the sea.|
Other smarty-pants animals include; mockingbirds, elephants, and rats. Hooray!