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What’s the smartest animal in the world? Here are the cleverest creatures around

How clever are elephants? (Getty Images)
How clever are elephants? (Getty Images)

IT’S just as well we can’t talk to the animals — they’d probably tell us we’re a bit thick.

Man has long dreamed of being able to communicate better with the Earth’s creatures, and has formed some remarkable relationships with dolphins, dogs, parrots and apes.

An animal that seems to understand us and impresses us by carrying out tasks never ceases to amaze.

Being humans, however, we always believe that we are the smartest of the lot, but are we?

Here, we present some of the cleverest creatures around, and explain why they are more deeply intellectual than many humans.



RECKONED to be the most-intelligent animals on the planet, chimps can manipulate the environment and their surroundings to help themselves and their community.

They can work out how to use things as tools to get things done faster, and they have outsmarted people many a time.

Cheeky little monkeys . . .




IN-DEPTH research has demonstrated that a typical middle-aged pig has the intelligence of a three-year-old human.

If you’ve ever observed how frighteningly fast toddlers get to grips with complicated gadgets, phones and tablets, that is pretty impressive!




BODY mass to brain ratio is how the boffins work out an animal’s intelligence, and these loveable creatures have the largest.

Self-aware, they can recognise themselves in mirrors, can keep their appearance neat and tidy, whilst being famed for their advanced communication skills.




YEAH, yeah, they just copy what we say, and that’s not clever, it’s just mimicry, right?

Actually, our colourful feathered friends have shown time and again that they can solve pretty complex problems, especially if there’s some food as a reward.

And let’s face it, there aren’t many other creatures that can repeat human phrases, either.




THESE big creatures can’t speak like us, but they use very complicated methods to communicate with each other.

The sounds they use are very complex, and the way they use this “language” to co-ordinate their moves as a team is extremely impressive.

And unlike some weedy humans, they probably realise that if they can’t think their way out of a situation, they can just rely on their size and bash the problem out of the way.




OUR best friends only come in at sixth place in the Brainy Animals rankings.

You may not be aware that the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA just came up with proof that dogs have specific music tastes, another fact that makes us love them even more.

Apparently, say the researchers, canines chill out to a bit of reggae and soft rock, but find heavy metal, punk and disco very disagreeable.




SURELY with all those arms, this beast is capable of multi-tasking like no other.

Not only that, but it can rely on several highly-developed strategies to find food.

The octopus has also shown a talent for solving problems during scientific tests.




IF you’ve ever memorised a bit of Shakespeare or mathematical equations to get a pass mark in exams, you’ll know the importance of memory.

Elephants, of course, have great memories, and they also sense if you are a nice, friendly person or someone who can be nasty.

They have large brains, and they also show a lot of empathy, unlike many creatures in the animal world that are hard-wired as predators.




FROM the massive to the tiny, these diminutive “brainies” think with their bellies.

Put some food near a squirrel and it will work out how to get it — and fast.

They also have elephant-style memories — mainly, it goes without saying, to remember the multiple places they secretly stored food for later.




UNLIKE pooches, felines just laze around, yawn, eat and go back to sleep, right?

Actually, cats have incredible sensory ability, and many of us just don’t appreciate their brain skills because they aren’t as trainable as dogs.

They are, however, very adept at learning new skills — and after all, they worked out how to have us fools running around after them while they snooze all day.




THESE rodents have great long-term memories and are capable of adapting to new surroundings.

Not everyone’s favourite furry animal, granted, but they are pretty smart.




OFTEN employed to pass messages and do a bit of reconnaissance, these birds follow commands and recall territories.



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THESE monkeys are known to plan group attacks.

It’s also a fact that rhesus monkeys have often shown suicidal tendencies, hinting that they are sensitive creatures.




IF you have ever witnessed a horse help to get an autistic child talking for the first time, you’ll know how incredibly clever and empathetic they are.

Capable of following quite complicated orders even under stress, we’re surprised they didn’t come further up our rankings.




THESE animals are capable of forming very sophisticated social hierarchies and relationships — far more complex (and useful) than the human behaviour you’ll witness on social media.




HOW come the wise old owl came so far down in our rankings?

It’s all the more surprising, as owls have been recognised for their intelligence since a long way back back — the Ancient Greeks, who almost invented intellect, thought owls were the very epitome of cleverness.

Funnily enough, they aren’t as smart at solving some tasks as most other bird species, and compared to parrots they are pretty much as stupid as it gets.

Put that dunce cap on and fly to the back of the class!