Nature's 5 smartest animal species
In a celebrated case a few years ago, an Israeli man was targeted by a local crow in an apparent revenge attack. The bird's chick fell out of its nest and the man carried it outside of his backyard. It wasn't long before the crow had him in its eye sights, forcing the man to wear a helmet and carry a parasol for self protection. That kind of intelligence wasn't a fluke. Take a look at this 2008 talk at the Ted Conference given by Joshua Klein, who showed off an amazing video displaying how crows quickly adapt to their surroundings.
Like elephants, chimps recognize themselves and have also been observed showing a range of emotions associated with human behavior, such as caring or mourning. Chimpanzes have been documented fashioning sticks into "spears" to hunt smaller primates. They've also been observed altering long twigs to fish for termite or using rocks to crack nuts. What's more, they have been found to cooperate with each other in coming up with sophisticated hunting strategies to kill prey.
Perhaps not entirely surprising given that chimpanzees happen to be the closest living relatives to humans in the animal kingdom.
The latest surprise about elephants came just this week, when scientists discovered that elephants successfully performed during an experiment commonly used with primates to test their understanding of cooperation. In this particular test, the elephants had to coordinate their efforts so that each could get a bucket of corn. They passed with flying colors.
"In the wild, elephants are known for remarkable displays of helping, empathy and compassion," Joshua Plotnik, a comparative psychologist at the University of Cambridge in England and head of elephant research for the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Chiang Saen, Thailand, said. "They are a very social animal, so this demonstration of complex cooperation fits well with what we know about their natural lives."
After listening to marine animal researchers present this evidence at a conference in 2010, Thomas White, a professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University was moved to declare that dolphins should be considered "non-human persons" who qualify for "moral standing as individuals."