Which four-legged mammals are the smartest

Intelligence in animals

Other scientists observed hand-reared ravens who found the right solution when completing tasks at the first attempt without having tried different approaches beforehand.

The researchers assume that this is only possible if the ravens play through possible solutions in their heads beforehand. At ten grams, their brains are around 40 times smaller than that of primates. Nevertheless, they are capable of enormous achievements.

To fish for food, crows even bend metal wires. And mangrove herons throw twigs into the water as bait and then wait for fish to snap at them.

What does "intelligence" mean here?

These and many other examples show that there are many more intelligent animals than was long believed. Researchers describe intelligence as the ability to solve problems and recognize relationships.

Above all, those animals are considered smart who do not solve their problems schematically, but can transfer previous experiences to a new situation and even discover completely new, creative solutions.

An important prerequisite for intelligent action is the ability to correctly assess the environment. Researchers now even assume that many animals not only record the properties of objects and use them for themselves, but can also calculate events in advance.

Dogs, for example, can plan ahead. If a dog owner throws a stick into the water at an angle to his four-legged friend on the beach, the dog does not immediately jump after it, but first runs along the shore for a while.

In this way, the dog seems to be calculating the fastest way to get to the stick - so which is the best starting point to get into the water. Dogs even take into account that swimming is slower than walking.

Many forms of intelligence

However, in the animal world, not every apparently clever problem-solving process is automatically associated with a thought process. Many behaviors that appear intelligent to us are genetically predetermined.

In addition, a distinction is made between different forms of intelligence: In addition to technical, economic intelligence, scientists observe ecological intelligence and see how different animals master problems in their specific environment.

A bat needs different cognitive abilities than a sea urchin. Emotional and social intelligence are also attracting more and more attention. There are, for example, animals that are able to recognize what their counterpart is up to.

Some of them can play through situations in their heads beforehand and then react accordingly. Chimpanzees, sometimes birds and dogs, have a high level of social intelligence.

The size of the brain is not decisive

In many cases, not even the size of the brain is decisive. Often, simple neural networks are enough to act intelligently. In the meantime, even starfish, crabs and leeches are granted environmental and social intelligence.

They use tools - just like the chimpanzees in West Africa - can recognize relatives individually and practice sophisticated forms of brood care. One type of leech, for example, feeds its young little worms, just like parent birds do.