6 Common Animals That Are Extremely Smart!

“Human beings are the most intelligent creatures in the world.”

This is a sentiment that we’ve certainly all heard in the past, but is it actually true?

While I like to believe that, every now and then I find reasons that make a pretty strong argument against that assumption. In general, humans are considered to be the smartest living things, (as far as we know), but there are also some animals that are much smarter than you ever imagined. They may even give the less intelligent members of the human race a run for their money!

Furthermore, these are not creatures from some far-off land; these are animals that you would recognize immediately!

1. Apes



No surprises here, given that apes are so closely related to human beings.

Apes are the single-most intelligent species known to us. Chimpanzees, in particular, have been subject to a great deal of medical and psychological research over the years. It has been found that they are the most similar species to humans when it comes to intelligence. They are able to solve complex problems, display amazing decision-making powers, and employ all sorts of techniques to find and store food in the wild. Chimps also have a photographic memory and are able to use complex sign language to communicate amongst themselves.

Rise of the planet of the apes

If the Earth was ever going to be taken over by animals (as imagined in the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes), then there is no doubt that apes would be the leaders of that revolution.

2. Rats

The rogue rodents are more than just annoying, dirty beasts scuttling around alleys and gutters; they’re also surprisingly intelligent!


Do I know you from somewhere?

Rats are naturally intelligent creatures that have managed to survive and thrive in a human population that despises them for centuries. They also have unusually strong cognitive abilities; they can navigate to areas where food is stored simply through their sense of smell and direction. Although a rat’s vision is relatively poor, this is compensated for by their extraordinary memory. Rats are very social too; they easily socialize with fellow rats – but not so much with humans.

With proper training, rats can even perform certain tasks and tricks. This has become so popular that in Africa, certain types of rats have been trained to detect land mines and explosives. An average rat brain weighs around 2 grams, which is quite high in terms of the brain size/body mass ratio.

3. Crows

This omnipresent bird may seem sinister to some, but they happen to have exceptional minds.


Credits:Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock

You might think that they’re bird-brained, but they are actually far from that.

Crows have been found to adapt remarkably well to their environment. In various urban areas, crows’ mental acumen has been observed by researchers. In fact, crows have been found to place nuts on the road so their tough shells can be broken open by passing vehicles. What’s more interesting is that crows even know to wait for the red light of traffic signals to retrieve the nuts! (Source) In some ways, crows observe traffic laws better than us!


Crows, like rats, also have a very good memory. They have been found to remember human faces and even hold grudges against certain humans who have treated them poorly in the past.

4. Elephants

It’s difficult not to be endlessly impressed by these gentle giants, even more so because of their undeniably brilliant brains!

elephant and man

Having a phenomenal memory is one of the most well-known characteristics of elephants. It is often said that these long-trunked pachyderms never forget anything! While there may be some truth in that, a long-term memory is not the only thing that makes them so smart.

Elephants are highly social animals that carefully coordinate amongst themselves to navigate in forests. Recent studies on elephants have shown that they can also differentiate between several human languages. They can guess a person’s gender and age, as well as ascertain whether they are a threat, simply by listening to their voice! What an incredible gift!


Elephants raised or kept in captivity have shown an inclination for certain art forms, such as painting. They can easily differentiate between colors and seem to have a moderate understanding of shape and aesthetics. They also display inclinations to certain kinds of music. If you had to guess, what genre of music do you think an elephant might like?

5. Dolphins

No discussion about the intelligence of animals would be complete without mentioning dolphins!


Credits:Igor Zh./Shutterstock

Dolphins are surprisingly human-like when it comes to enjoying life. They have been found to take part in games (like  playing catch) underwater with other dolphins and fish as a form of entertainment. They are also very creative thinkers, which is shown by the many creative ways they have of hunting for and catching food at sea!

Dolphins, like humans, are also able to learn from their past experiences. They use a sophisticated language to communicate amongst themselves and are highly coordinated in social settings. They have also been seen to imitate each other in order to entertain, commonly entertaining human observers by performing wonderful jumps in the air. Of all the animals in the wild, it seems like dolphins know how to really have fun!

6. Squirrels

Funny-squirrelSquirrels are great planners, which is a particularly human trait. However, to survive long winters, squirrels plan ahead and stash their food in places where it can be retrieved without much difficulty, but that are also out of sight. Squirrels are quite cunning, as well, and are remarkably good at hiding if they sense that they’re being watched by predators.

They’re pretty damn good at protecting themselves too. Squirrels in California have even been found to cover themselves with the smell of rattlesnakes to keep potential predators at bay.

One final thing that squirrels also have that trumps human abilities is their agility. Their ability to scurry up trees and around predators and obstacles is something that would definitely come in handy for us!


  1. HowStuffWorks
  2. NBC News
  3. Mail Online (DailMail)
  4. Elephant Cognition – Wikipedia
  5. ScientificAmerican
  6. LiveScience
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About the Author:

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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