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10 Smartest Animals in the World

Updated on July 26, 2012

Everyone knows that humans are the smartest creatures on planet earth. Or at least, that is what we like to think about ourselves. However, the animal kingdom has numerous other creatures that are highly smart, if not as smart as humans. A fine example of intelligent animals is a dog. There are numerous other animals that are smarter than a dog, some we know and some we don’t. Here is a list of ten such smartest animals in the world. Each of them is considered intelligent for a specific reason.

1) Rat

A rat being one of the world's smartest animals may not come as a surprise. Although considered a pest, a rat is highly intelligent. A rat is known to have the capability of easily finding loopholes, shortcuts and escape roots. One of the reasons why a rat is an important lab creature is because of its psychology, which is similar to that of humans. Studies have shown that rats have metacognition and an amazing sense of smell and hearing. In Chinese culture, a rat is highly revered for its resourcefulness and cunningness. It is also the first animal in the Chinese zodiac.

2) Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee is considered the most intelligent primate. Its intelligence is known to be just next to that of humans. Chimpanzees can easily create and use tools, hunt collectively and have the capability of advanced problem-solving. Chimpanzees can easily learn sign language to communicate with humans. However, probably the most amazing part of a chimpanzee’s intelligence is its ability to use symbols for denoting objects and combine these symbols in a proper sequence to convey an idea.

3) Dolphin

Ever wonder why dolphins are a star attraction in water theme parks and aquariums? It is because of their intelligence. Dolphins are known to be smarter than almost any other creature on earth. They are extremely social beings. Dolphins have a “sophisticated” language which humans have started to unravel only recently. They can use a variety of tools available in their natural environment and they can easily learn a wide variety of behavioral commands.

4) Elephant

Comparing the size of an elephant’s head to its body size, it may be a bit surprising to see that an elephant is considered one of the smartest animals in the world. An elephant is known to have one of the best memories in the animal kingdom. Elephants have been seen helping other animals in times of need, consoling family members, communicating with each via trumpet-like calls, roars and bellows, and playing in water. Elephants are known to have displayed self-recognition in front of a mirror, possible by only few mammals in the animal kingdom. Among various other abilities, elephants are known to have the ability of creating mental maps.

5) Cat

There wouldn’t be a doubt if someone called a cat a smart animal, as it is naturally expected to be one. Cats can easily observe and imitate. It is said that a cat cannot be trained. However, there are examples where cats have been successfully trained to perform tricks. Cats are known to be motivated by the survival instinct. They are easily adaptable to a wide range of domestic environments. That explains how the feline has adapted itself for at least over 9,500 years.

6) Octopus

I bet, you have heard about Paul the octopus, which predicted some interesting results during the World Cup Football 2010. Octopus is known to be one of the brainiest invertebrate below water. The brain of an octopus is known to share the complexity of a human brain. It has specific regions for processing visual as well as tactile information. The octopus is known to have curiosity, ability to use tools, an ability to learn and a disdain for boredom. Under study conditions, an octopus is found to have incredible short as well as long term memory. An octopus is known to be an excellent camouflage and escape artist.

7) Dog

Who can forget the adorable pet and a man’s best friend, the dog? A dog is known to have the ability to observe and learn. That is one of the reasons why it is easily trainable. But is that it for its intelligence? Dogs not only communicate through their barking but also through their body language. If you are a dog owner, you easily know when a dog is hungry, when it wants you to show love, and when it is bored. They are also known to have the ability to empathize with us and understand our moods. A dog is one of the animals that is known to have the ability to grasp sounds beyond human audible frequency. And which other animal in the animal kingdom can show loyalty better than a dog?

8) Crow/Raven

I am sure that in your school days, you must have read the story of the intelligent raven and the jug of water. This bird is very crafty indeed. A crow’s IQ tops the avian scale, which is used to measure bird intelligence. It can make simple tools from twigs, feather and other possible bits of debris. Some can even create complex tools such as fish bait or a knife with the available resources. The bird is known to be born with a tool-making ethic; however, it hones its skills by observing its elders, which is a sign of higher intelligence.

9) Pig

A pig being a smart animal is extremely hard to believe, isn’t it? Wait!! Here is another shocker. Did you know that a pig is actually a very clean animal? A pig is known to be one of the smartest and cleanest domestic animals, in fact more than a cat or a dog. So why is a pig always seen as dirty? Pigs lack sweat glands. Hence, in order to stay cool, they need to roll in mud and dirt. Experiments conducted in the 1990s give a sign of their intelligence. Pigs were trained to use a cursor (with their snouts) to distinguish between scribbles they were seeing for the first time and the once they already knew. The pigs learned this as quickly as a chimpanzee. Talk about intelligent creatures.

10) Ant

Ant is not only a heavy-weight lifter and a hard worker, but also a very smart creature. If you have watched programs on the National Geographic Channel or Discovery channel, you will already be aware of this fact. They are highly social creatures, in that, they have colonies as complex as a human colony. They communicate with each other using pheromones. Some species of ants are intelligent enough to use “propaganda pheromones” in order to confuse their enemies. Ants leave scent trails to remember their tracks. Learning through imitation is one thing, but ants are known to learn through interactive teaching. Isn’t this incredible for a small creature such as an ant?

Let me know which other animal you think should be considered one of the smartest animals in the world.

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    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 3 years ago from Texas

      Great hub full of awesome info - voted up and more!

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 3 years ago from India

      JoanCA: Thanks a lot for your comments :)

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 3 years ago

      I knew most of these except for ants, crows and pigs. This is great information on why they are considered so smart.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 3 years ago from India

      Erika: Thanks a lot for the addition. Regarding the pigeons, they are definitely intelligent and have amazing memories. I guess that is why they were used to send messages. And I didn't know about the sheep. Thanks for sharing that.

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      Erika 3 years ago

      Those are some intelligent animals! Some more are sheep, who can identify any animal or person they've met, pigeons who have great memories, they can remember hundreds of images! parrots and cockatoos who can mimick human language and remember many words.

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      Karthik Kashyap 3 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot for commenting Vishakha :)

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      Karthik Kashyap 3 years ago from India

      Wilda: I agree. We have neglected the intelligence of some animals and limited to children stories. But, these animals/birds are truly intelligent. One can only be astonished at their intelligence.

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      Wilda 3 years ago

      Crows sometimes leave nuts on the road when it's red light and the cars are standing still, when the lights change to green and the cars start to move the Crows fly away and the nuts are cracked by the cars, when the lights change again and the cars stop, the birds fly down to the road and get their treats :D

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      tristan 3 years ago

      i meant crack

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      tristan 3 years ago

      the crow can crach a walnut by dropping rocks onit

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 3 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot for the comment Mel. You are absolutely right. There are quite a few feat which some animals in the animal kingdom perform that can put humans to shame. We can only imagine the level of intelligence of these animals.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you for including the Crow/Raven combination. I am fascinated by these birds. I find them very human-like in their omnivorous nature and their observed behavior to perform actions just for the fun of it. I believe that human beings in general, and scientists in particular, are very arrogant in their assertions that only humans do things rationally, while the members of the animal kingdom act only on instinct. Interesting hub!

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot for the comment Tristan :)

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      tristan 4 years ago

      i always thaught rats were smart

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      tristan 4 years ago

      i knew rats are the smartesed

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      abyssinia: They definitely are. In fact, I was recently talking to a forest conservation officer in our city. This is what he said: "I would bravely walk in a forest where there are tigers without thinking twice, but I would think 10 times if there is an elephant in the forest. You have absolutely no idea how intelligent they are and how they can react".

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      abyssinia 4 years ago

      I did not think an octopus ,a pig, a crow, an ant or an elephant would be so intelligent. Perhaps you are right.Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Nettlemere : Thank you for sharing :) I will put that as an update to this hub.

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      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I think amazon grey parrots and other similar parrot species are probably worth a place on the list.

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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      thanks a lot tigresosal and Lolz..

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      Lolz 4 years ago

      It's nice knowing that not all big animals are strong!

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      tigresosal 4 years ago

      Very interesting hub. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge

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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      thanks MelChi :)

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      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      I know that cats and dogs are smart, as well as dolphins but would never have guessed that pigs, rats or ants were smart! Thanks for sharing - very interesting! :)

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