Originally posted on: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Humans have proven themselves to be the planet’s most dominant species, due to our highly developed communication, critical thinking and predatory skills. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any competition. There are plenty of animals that we can learn from by watching the ways in which they communicate and learn from each other. While you struggle to become a more efficient student for your online college classes, try taking a cue from these 10 amazingly smart and productive animals.
1. Octupi and squids: Cephalopods — octopi, squids and cuttlefish — may be some of the smartest animals in the ocean. After studying them, scientists have deduced that cephalopods are always trying to stay busy, as they hate being bored. They use tools, are efficient eaters, and can learn new skills.
2. Dolphins: Dolphins may love humans just as much as humans love dolphins. The highly collaborative marine mammal is also incredibly intelligent and communicative and may actually be the second-smartest animal in the world, just after humans. Their brains are 4-5 times larger than other animals’ brains who have similar sized bodies. They also have a well developed neocortex which helps them process emotion, recognize themselves in a mirror, demonstrate an ability for cultural learning, and understand abstract concepts.
3. Pigeons: Although they’re often associated with dirty, crowded urban environments, pigeons are productive animals with high intelligence. They have highly developed memories, recognize themselves in a mirror, and can identify even subtle differences between different objects.
4. Pigs: Pigs are known to compensate for their mud-slinging, trough-eating ways by demonstrating high intelligence, but did you know just how smart pigs are? They’re very social and even emotional animals that can "play" computer and video games at least as well as chimpanzees. They have an excellent sense of direction and learn from each other, when they’re not trying to trick each other.
5. Rats: Rats may be one of the most abhorred creatures on Earth, but they’re still pretty smart and very resourceful. Rats are extremely adaptable and can almost always find an escape route, which is why they’re so resilient.
6. Squirrels: A slightly cuter version of the rat is the squirrel, another cunning rodent. Squirrels sometimes trick spying animals by pretending to hide their food in one spot, and then really finding a safer place for it when no one’s watching. After months have passed, squirrels can remember the exact place they stored their food, sometimes using clues to help themselves.
7. Crows: Crows may have annoying calls and scare away other, more attractive birds, but they’re so smart that even humans could learn something from them. Crows are very resourceful animals that turn all kinds of objects into usable tools for getting food from hard-to-reach places. They also have great respect for their elders, and watch older birds when they want to learn a new skill.
8. Bees: Bees have shown scientists that they are very in tune with the natural world, not just including pollinating flowers. They use the sun for direction, are punctual, and also have the ability to learn colors, sounds and even exact places. And if you’ve ever noticed a bee’s seemingly erratic flying pattern, you’ve actually watched it communicate to other bees the specifics of the food they’re finding.
9. Dogs: Scientists are still discovering just how smart dogs are. They’ve already proven to be loyal, good communicators and may have decent memory, and now scientists believe that dogs may have the ability to understand someone else’s point of view. Through tests, dogs have also proven to understand concepts and form real perceptions of things.
10. Elephants: Elephants are widely regarded as smart, efficient animals that use tools, groom themselves, and have even inspired robotics. A new robotic arm was modeled after an elephant’s trunk, which can pick up nearly any type of object and seamlessly move it and use it as needed. Elephants also have large brains — weighing around 5 kilos — and use objects to protect themselves, either as weapons or to intimidate their attackers.