Animal IQs: Who Is The Smartest?

This photo gallery places one animal aside another to compare wits. Though every species has innumerable strengths and skills (and many we human animals can only aspire to), some animals are standout brainiacs. See who on the next two pages! The who’s who of animal intelligence may surprise you.  — Global Animal


[dropcap]Dogs vs. Cats[/dropcap]


Dogs vs. Cats: Dogs are smarter. This research probably won’t settle the age-old rivalry between dog and cat owners, but it does come with an Oxford pedigree. Scientists at the prestigious British university say canines are definitively more intelligent than cats. Their reasoning is simple: Dogs are more social animals, so they’ve developed bigger brains than their feline counterparts. Man’s best friend, in addition to always being in a good mood, can recognize images of itself and pick up nonverbal cues.


[dropcap]Elephants vs. Chimpanzees[/dropcap]


Elephants vs. Chimpanzees: Elephants win the battle of wits. Bigger than most, and smarter than most, too: Elephants back up their brawn with surprising prowess in numerical abilities, among other skills. Faced with experiments testing their ability to differentiate numerical amounts, like recognizing the difference between one and two items compared with the difference between five and six, elephants performed better than primates—and even human children. “Their abilities don’t seem to be limited in quite the same way as monkeys, apes, and children would be,” said the experiment’s lead researcher. Still not impressed? Elephants have been shown to tell the difference between various human languages, too.

 [dropcap]Grizzly Bear vs. Polar Bear[/dropcap]

Grizzly Bear vs. Polar Bear: It’s a draw. Climate change is pushing these two species together into a battle for resources and wits—and most scientists’ money is on the grizzlies, whose stronger teeth and skulls will help them win a potential battle for scarce food. Disappearing Arctic ice, on which polar bears depend for hunting, will force them to turn to vegetarian food sources—something grizzlies are better designed to do. Grizzlies also have been found to have the largest and most complex brains of any land mammal relative to their size; they can recognize other animals they’ve seen as long as 20 years before. But don’t count out polar bears: There’s no scientific agreement on which species has the higher IQ, but some researchers believe polar bears have an intelligence roughly equal to the smartest primates.

[dropcap] Rat vs. Pigeon[/dropcap]


Rat vs. Pigeon: Rats are more intelligent. But they both outdo humans in some cases: In an experiment designed to test why humans make investment mistakes, researchers proved that rats and pigeons are able to learn an optimal strategy and stick to it—while humans tend to second-guess themselves and show misguided confidence. Rats, however, can go one step further than their feathered friends. In another study where rats where given a choice to opt out of a test if they didn’t know the answer, they did so, “which suggests that rats, like monkeys, but unlike pigeons, may be aware of what they do,” according to the researcher.

[dropcap] Octopus vs. Fish[/dropcap]


Octopus vs. Fish: Octopuses are smater than fish. Cephalopods—mollusks with arms, like squids and octopuses—are probably the smartest invertebrates. Octopuses are particularly bright: They have large brains relative to their body weight and have complex lobes, similar to that of mammals, allowing them to process complex information. That makes them smarter than most fish, and even smarter than some birds. They can learn to recognize shapes, open jars with screw lids and devise complex, multi-dimensional responses to attacks or challenging hunting situations. Some giant octopuses can even open child-proof medicine bottles and dramatically improve their time with practice. Popular notions about fish memories lasting only a few seconds are myths, but most of them have much smaller brains and less complex intelligence than cephalopods.

[dropcap] Horse vs. Cow[/dropcap]


Horse vs. Cow: The horse win this battle of wits. Horses represented the proletariat in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, while the cows were mistreated, but how do they fall in the animal IQ hierarchy? Once thought to be dumb, horses at least rank higher than cows, which certainly makes them less likely to be eaten. Oregon State animal scientist Steve Davis cautioned that “the smarter we think animals are, the more humanly we care for them.” Despite the public perception that cows are dumb, a 2005 study proved that cows are, in fact, moody and feel pain, anxiety, and fear, and are intensely sexual.

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  1. Felines are definitively more intelligent than dogs. The reasoning is simple: cats are solitary animals, they can't rely on other cat's help to do their cat things, they need to be smarter to survive, so they’ve developed bigger brains than their canine counterparts.