Able to solve complicated problems and get crafty by fashioning tools to adapt to different situations, crows are one of the most intelligent birds in the world. A particular indication of high intelligence is their ability to learn these skills from their elders. They have even been known to leave their nuts on the sides of roads to allow cars to crack the shells for them.
It has recently been discovered that bees have surprisingly good memory and recognition skills, although as in humans, this does vary between individuals. Even more impressive is that swarms as a whole are able to communicate, make decisions democratically and organise themselves efficiently as a swarm.
The phrase, ‘as sly as a fox’ is mostly in reference to the crafty mammal’s appearance, but studies of domesticated foxes have shown that they understand commands and can communicate as dogs would do. They’re also unusually good at foraging for food, successfully surviving in cities.
Squirrels portray clear signs of intelligence, including the ability to interpret the intentions of other beings and find hidden food. They’ve been documented covering themselves in rattlesnake scent to deter predators and have even been known to simulate hiding non-existent nuts to throw fellow squirrels off the scent.
Aside from their homing abilities and good memory, pigeons are one of few animals able to recognise themselves in ‘the mirror test’, which looks for self awareness in animals. Incredibly, a 1995 study found that pigeons could discriminate between works of art by Picasso and Monet.
An ability to get their bait without being trapped is one of many clever traits of these rodents. Others include signs of empathy and selflessness for fellow rats trapped in experiments as well as good long term memories. They are successful in finding shortcuts, loopholes and escape routes in mazes in lab experiments.
Wild seals are very intelligent, curious and have good coordination, learning tricks easily in captivity. They are highly curious and instinctively protective – there was even a case reported of a seal coming to the rescue of a drowning dog. Aww.
Like crows, otters are another of few animals that can use tools, using rocks to break shellfish open and harnessing themselves with seaweeds as an anchor.
Intelligent and social animals, bats have recently been found to be capable of developing longterm relationships with other bats. A new study showed that they “cultivate long-term, stable personal relationships with other individuals and can form networks with friends and relatives”.
10. Dung beetles
Dung beetles may seem like simple beings, but consider this: they follow the stars to navigate and to prevent themselves from rolling in circles or close to known competitors.
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