Commonly underrated, these birds can distinguish colors, learn tricks, and count!
Another cool thing is chickens can perform “mental time travel”–to imagine what will happen in the future–as demonstrated in a 2005 study led by Siobhan Abeyesinghe then from the University of Bristol, UK.
In their study, birds were given two options to peck: one that would give a reward after a two-second delay, and one that would give a bigger reward after a six-second delay. Chickens were significantly more likely to peck the second option, which offered a greater food reward despite the longer delay. This shows self-control, a trait that hints at self-awareness.
Rats feel empathy and exhibit altruism. In one test, it was observed that not only will rats save trapped rats, but that they’ll also willingly share their food with the rats they saved. (“Rats Show Empathy, Too”, 2019)
Other intelligent traits of rats are recognizing their name, and socializing and forming bonds.
A species of crow native to Pacific island of New Caledonia understand cause and effect relationships similar to how 5- to 7-year-old kids do!
A 2014 study investigated the truth behind an ancient Greek tale, The Crow and the Pitcher. In the tale, a parched crow came upon a pitcher of water the crow couldn’t reach. In a display of intelligence and, amazingly, some understanding of physics, the crow dropped pebbles into the pitcher, raising the water level until the crow could reach and drink it.
The researchers tested the New Caledonian crow’s ability by devising multiple set-ups where crows can get a treat if they raise the water enough. They found out that crows learned to drop stones into water-filled tubes instead of sand-filled, dropped sinking objects as opposed to floating ones, and knew to drop objects into tubes with higher water level.
These insects know how to resolve conflicts peacefully and democratically–through a dance-off!
When a bee hive gets overpopulated, a team of bee scouts is deployed to find a new home for the colony. If there is any disagreement on where they should relocate, each party argues their case through a dance. A vote is made by the members of the colony by flying to the spot they prefer, and dancing along. The spot with the most number of dancing bees win!
Don’t try to steal their nuts–they’re on to you!
In a 2010 study, squirrels were observed to fake their nut hiding spots when they knew they were being watched. They dug holes and patted them over with dirt, making the nut thief believe the nut has been deposited. The squirrel then hid their nuts under their armpits or in their mouth until they found a safer hiding spot.
Research has found that these gentle giants have excellent memory and that they can remember things for a long time. They are not so different from dogs, cats, and humans, as scientists have found that they have complex social interactions, and that they develop friendships that last over time. Just like humans, they can even hold grudges against other cows who they think treated them badly!
Animal behaviorists also found that cows have diverse personalities. They can be introverted and shy, while others can be more courageous and eager to meet new people and other cows. They can be very friendly animals if you give them a chance.
Mother cows form strong bonds with those they love especially with their calves. A sign of this is the fact these mothers frantically call out for their babies when farmers take the children away to be sold for veal or beef. Cows can demonstrate a strong sense of loss and some can be seen shedding tears mourning those they lost.
Pigs are considered by scientists to be smarter than dogs. They can communicate in 20 different sounds and they even sing when they are nursing their babies. Piglets actually learn to recognize their mother’s voice and they run to them when they are being called.
You can learn more about how pigs are intelligent by checking out the Internet icon, Esther the Wonder Pig. Esther was rescued by her two human furparents and she’s followed on social media by people around the world! Check her out on Instagram and Facebook.
Elephants have amazing long-term memory. In 1999, two elephants, Shirley and Jenny, recognized each other at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee 22 years after the last time they met.
They have also been observed to help other species in need, communicate with one another, console family members, and work in a team. Happy, an Asian elephant, recognized herself in the mirror, demonstrating self-awareness.
If brain-to-body ratio would be the basis of intelligence, dolphins would come second after humans!
These adorable cetaceans can be extremely resourceful, and they get creative in getting their food. A group of bottlenose dolphins in Australia, for example, dive with a sea-sponge in their mouth to disturb fish hiding on the ocean’s sandy seabed. They would drop the sponge on the sea bed, eat the fish that came out of hiding, and pick up the sponge for further foraging. The sponges also prevent dolphins from getting their mouths scraped.
They are complex social animals who love playing, learn how to work with others, and form bonds comparable to how humans do. Dolphins’ limbic system, the part of the brain which process emotions, even seems to be more complicated than ours!
Octopuses have scientists baffled. While they lack common traits of intelligent animals such as forming long-lasting bonds and having a longer life span, octopuses display signs of impressive intelligence.
For one, they are great problem solvers. In one experiment, octopuses switched techniques in opening a clam according to what would work best in each situation. Octopuses also seem to be capable of feeling bored, and tend to play during these “boring” situations, an indicator of cleverness.
They’re quite the escape artists as well. An octopus named Inky, for example, became known for his escape from the National Aquarium of New Zealand! He apparently broke out of his enclosure, slithered into a floor drain and, presumably, went out to sea!
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January 2020 issue.
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