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Animals Don't Lie

Updated on August 3, 2015

The ability to represent oneself and one’s actions in the mind’s eye – both in the past and in the future – is what scientists refer to as mental time travel. Primate intelligence has been proven over and over again to be the closest to human intelligence. Even their entire genetic make up is incredibly close to that of humans. But, what about other animal species? Where do they rank on the intelligence scale? Let's find out!

Sandra looking at her Christmas present next to her very own Christmas tree.
Sandra looking at her Christmas present next to her very own Christmas tree. | Source

Sandra and Santino

Sandra:

Sandra is a Sumatran Orangutan who has been held in the Buenos Aries Zoo for over 20 years. She is currently fighting for her "Non-Human Rights" with the help of her lawyers in Argentina. Her lawyers have argued that while she is not biologically identical to human beings, her emotional and mental capacity is.She has "sufficient cognitive function and should not be treated as an object". The Argentine court has ruled that Sandra should be freed from captivity and transferred to a sanctuary because she is being robbed of her freedom. She has been granted "basic non-human rights" at this time. She won't be released into the wild because she was born in captivity in Germany almost 30 years ago and therefore would most likely not survive in the wild. How many animals do you know that have lawyers? Sandra is an exceptional case because of her cognitive abilities. However, Orangutans as a species are rather intelligent.

  1. Climbing trees:
    Orangutans are accomplished tree climbers, adopting a behavior called brachiating, which lets them swing from branch to branch using hands and feet like hooks, says the orangutan conservation group Pongo Foundation. Little kids might not have such flexible feet, but they are inhumanly good at scaling trees.
  2. Learning from Mom:
    Orangutans spend the first two years within arm's reach of their moms and don't strike out on their own until age 8. (Before that, around age 2, they'll start to explore via something called "buddy travel" — that is, holding hands with another ape and moving about the forest.) The primates also seem adept at that old toddler standby, copycat.
  3. Love the poncho:
    A bright yellow rain slicker is a beautiful thing — a neon defense against drizzle, the thin line between chilled bones and a pleasant pattering sound. The orangutan knows this, too, though not having mastered the creation of colored vinyl, he simply drapes himself in a rainproof leaf and calls it a day.
  4. Forget the soapy bubbles:
    If cleanliness is next to godliness, dirtiness is next door to a happy, grass-stained kid. And, depending on the contents of our soap, when we go dirty it makes a happy orangutan, too. It's not that orangutans have a deviant fondness for stanky humans, but rather that farming palm oil — used in food and products like soap — encroaches on their ecosystems. Palm oil plantations have led to conflict with orangutans in Borneo, by shrinking orangutan habitat as well as farmers directly killing the apes.
  5. Sweet tooth:
    Orangutans love fruit, which makes up more than 60 percent of their diet. They can be picky primates, but they eat a lot of what they can find, including honey. (And for proof that children and everyone else love sweet things: This Halloween, Americans spent an estimated $2.2 billion on candy.)
  6. Being a little shy:
    Something like half of American kids call themselves shy, a descriptor these quiet children share with orangutans. Orangutans are infrequently spotted in the wild and even more rarely seen in groups; once the primates hit sexual maturity, they'll strike it out solo to conquer the natural jungle gym of the Indonesian and Malaysian wilds.
  7. DNA! DNA! DNA!
    Pop open the cellular hood, and orangutans and kids (and adults, too!) look pretty similar: About 97 percent of orangutan and human DNA is the same. Orangutans are no mental slouches, either, matching two-and-a-half-year-old toddlers in certain types of brain teasers.
    https://www.thedodo.com/7-orangutan-like-kids-894044049.html

As a species Orangutans are incredible, but Sandra and her lawyers take the cake! She's not the only primate worth discussing, however.

Santino:

Santino is a Chimpanzee at the Furuvik Zoo in Sweden. He is best known for his rock throwing game. Santino would patiently await his tourist victims. As they would approach he would hammer them with rocks. After a while, tourists became aware of Santino and his rock throwing and they would then avoid him. So, Santino had to devise a plan to gain their trust again. He began hiding and stashing his rocks. As soon as the tourists were under the impression that Santino had gotten over his mischievous ways, he would grab the rocks from his stash and start whipping them!
Santino was displaying an ability to learn from his past experiences and plan for future scenarios. This has long been a hallmark of human intelligence. But a recently published review paper by the psychologist Thomas Zentall from the University of Kentucky argues that this complex ability should no longer be considered unique to humans.http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-frontier-animal-intelligence/

Brief examples of animal intelligence of different species!

The following different species are examples of how each of them demonstrate their level of intelligence.
Mental Time Travel: the ability to represent oneself and one’s actions in the mind’s eye – both in the past and in the future.

Crows

Crows have shown to be the intellect equivalent of a seven year old child. Crows demonstrated their understanding of cause and effect with the "Aesop's fable paradigm". This was an exercise where the crows had to drop stones into water to make the water level rise. When the water level was high enough the crow would then be able to reach the reward. "Understanding causal regularities in the world is a key feature of human cognition," lead author Sarah Jelbert, a researcher at Auckland University, and her team point out.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Source

Honeybees

Honeybees physically don't have a very big brain. However, they have proven that bigger isn't always better!

Honeybees can:

  • Count
  • Categorize similar objects
  • Understand "same" and "different"
  • Differentiate between shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical

http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Dogs

Did you know that your dog can do math or learn hundreds of words? Well, they can! Studies have shown that dogs understand arithmetic and that they can pick out errors such as, 1+1=3. On average a dog can also learn about 165 different words. Intelligence, at least as measured by humans, varies per breed, with border collies tending to be the brightest.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Fish

Like dogs, fish can also count! So far, they have only shown to be able to count up to three. However, as technology and other methods to test the fish emerge, the more we will know. "...slowly unraveling the cognitive abilities of fish and, as for the case of numerical abilities, they often suggest that the capabilities of these creatures are not so dissimilar from those of the organisms (monkeys, rodents and pigeons) that have traditionally been employed for these studies."
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Cockatoos

Also known as the "animal-master burglars". In just two hours a Cockatoo named Pipin retrieved a nut after picking a lock that required him to: remove a pin, then a screw, then a bolt, then turn a wheel 90 degrees and then shift a latch sideways.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Source

Elephants

Did you know that Elephants can speak Korean? Well, at least one of them can! An Asian Elephant named Koshik. In order to be able to communicate with his caretakers, Koshik can currently speak five Korean words: annyong (hello), anja (sit down), aniya (no), nuo (lie down), and choah (good). Koshik's vocabulary words were commands that he was taught, or feedback that he was given. Either way, it's pretty impressive considering that Elephants have trunks, not lips.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Animals don't lie. Animals don't criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.

— -Betty White

Goldfish

Goldfish love to listen to music. They have been known to distinguish between Bach and Stravinsky and any other composer. In a study to prove this theory two pieces of music were played for the goldfish tank. The pieces were "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach and "The Rite of Spring" by Igor Stravinsky. While fish, and most other animals, prefer silence to music, the research proves that goldfish can detect complex properties of sounds, such as pitch and timbre.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Snakes

Snakes are still being closely studied to see what all they are capable of. As of right now, the most intelligent thing that they do is how they methodically kill their prey. Snakes don't just kill out of instinct. They study their prey. Completely monitoring every movement right up till the end. Once the prey is in the tight grip of the snake, the snake continues to constrict. Every little constriction is timed perfectly with the victim's heartbeat until it is no more.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

Horses

Horses have impeccable memories! They never forget their humans. As long as the horse is treated right by the human, that human will stay a positive memory for the horse for the rest of it's life. They have even been known to learn and memorize human words. Horses also have excellent hearing and can usually hear their humans better than the dog can.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/10-surprising-facts-about-animal-intelligence-140402.htm

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Stop! Please vote!

What is the most intelligent species by your human standards?

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Something to think about...

Does niceness equal stupidity? Robert Krulwich looks how domesticated animals, bred by humans to have gentle qualities, are less intelligent than their wild counterparts. Could the same thing be happening to us humans as we require less aggression in the modern world?
http://www.calacademy.org/explore-science/animal-intelligence

So, what do you think? Does niceness equal stupidity?

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