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Interactive video lesson plan for: 5 of the Smartest Animals | What the Stuff?!

Activity overview:

As far as animals go, humans are pretty swell. Our brilliant brains have taken us across the globe and even into space. But we’re not the only nerdy animals on this rock. Here are 5 of the smartest.


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As far as animals go, humans are pretty swell. Our brilliant brains have taken us across the globe and even into space. But we’re not the only nerdy animals on this rock.

Rats. Yep, regardless how you feel about one of nature’s most successful rodents, there’s no denying that rats are as intelligent as they are reviled. They outsmart and escape laboratory experiments. They experience empathy, and they’ve successfully colonized every continent on Earth except for Antarctica. And they’ll get there soon enough, I imagine.

Octopus. Every time I see an octopus, I thank my lucky stars that these amazing jerks can’t spend too much time on land or live very long. Otherwise it’d be game over for us humans. These things play, use tools, solve problems, navigate mazes and more. We don’t even know the extent of their abilities. According to Millersville University researcher Jean Boal, one of the toughest things about testing octopus intelligence is that they’re too smart. They break experiments, fiddle with stuff, and even seek revenge when they feel like they’re being given subpar food. The more we learn, the more terrifying these things become.I mean, look at that. What is it, a Lovecraft monster?

Elephants. Nowadays elephants’ smarts are pretty well-known. You’ve probably seen the YouTube videos of elephants painting, and identifying themselves in the mirror. But did you know that they can form lifelong friendships outside of their species, or that they exhibit altruism and help strangers? These gentle giants have a dark side, too: their excellent memory means that, like a human, an elephant can hold a grudge for decades.

Crows. Crows, ravens and other birds in the family Corvidae are crazy smart. Like Twilight Zone-level smart. They make tools. They teach their young to recognize specific humans. They play. They steal. Multiple studies, including recent work by German neurobiologists Lena Veit and Professor Andreas Nieder have confirmed the astonishing power and flexibility of crow cognition, leading some biologists to refer to them as “feathered primates”.

Dolphin. Cetaceans in general are packing some serious sagacity, but the dolphin takes the cleverness cake. Dolphins are smarter than almost any other creature on the planet. They talk to each other, use tools, and spend a lot of time playing pranks on each other. They never forget a whistle, and they even name each other.

These are just a few of Earth’s smartest animals. We haven’t even mentioned pigeons, pigs, chimpanzees and so on. But if you’d like to learn more, check out “Top Ten Smartest Animals” on HowStuffWorks. What other animals should be on this list? What are the dumbest animals? Let me know in the comments – and why not hit that like button and subscribe. Learn as much as you can before the octopus army rises to finish the human race once and for all.

Tagged under: stuff,HowStuffWorks (Website),science,animals,rats,octopus,elephants,crows,dolphin

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