Animals have been found to have ranging intellectual abilities, all of which funnel into the idea of animal cognition. This theory centers around an animals ability to use the information they obtain from their environment to navigate and make crucial decisions. The study of how certain animal intelligence compares with other species, as well as humans, is known as comparative cognition.
All animals have some level of intelligence, however the human interpretation of their reactions to stimuli can make an animal appear to lack intellect. For example, pigs are just as smart as dogs, but you won’t be able to train a pig to do things like fetch or locate other animals because pigs are naturally stubborn, and haven’t been over the millennia selected for those traits as dogs have. Some behavioral scientists, such as B.F. Skinner, believed animals can learn anything if provided with the proper environment and methods.
Here are three examples of intelligent animals and some of their unique abilities:
- Dolphins. Researchers have found that these ocean mammals are some of few animals who can understand seeing their own reflection.
- Crows. Numerous studies have found that crows have a unique ability to use tools and solve problems. In 2017, scientists found that crows could predict the what, when, and where of a future situation based on past experiences.
- Elephants. Well known for their keen memory, they can also differentiate human’s race, gender, and age by acoustic cues in their voice pattern.
- Pigs. One of the most intelligent land mammals, pigs are a highly social animal capable of using tools (such as operating a joystick to move an on-screen cursor to activate a feeder), who also have a vocabulary of over 20 distinct oinks. Pig mothers talk to their piglets constantly, including “singing” to them while nursing.
Everything Worth Knowing About … Animal Intelligence. Discover Magazine.
Historical Information about Animal Cognition. Tufts University.
- Animals Are Intelligent. Are Humans Holding Them Back? Sentient Media/Huffington Post.