No other member of the animal kingdom can ace an algebra test or write an A+ essay. But that doesn’t mean other species aren’t highly intelligent. Several members of the animal kingdom have impress cognitive chops and cerebral skills.
Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. We share almost 99 percent of our DNA (the little bits of genetic code that make us who we are) with them. It turns out that they share some of our brain power as well. In a study published in 2007, researchers gave adult chimps, adolescent chimps, and college students the same cognitive test. The exam involved remembering where a list of numbers—from one to nine—were located on a touch screen monitor.
Chimps and humans alike saw the numbers in their locations for less than a second. Then they were asked to remember where those numbers had been and show the researchers. The adult primates and humans performed about the same. But the adolescent chimps left them both in the dust. They remembered each number’s location with far better accuracy. Researchers think that these youngsters were using a type of photographic memory, which allows an individual to recall images with extremely high accuracy even if they only glanced at them for a split second.
Scientists have thought for a long time that goats are far smarter than their unassuming demeanor leads many of us to believe. Finally, a group of researchers in Australia decided to put these barn animals to the test. To do so, they set up a contraption that held fruit at the end. To access the tasty treat, the goats had to use their teeth to drag a rope down, which activated a lever they had to lift up with their mouths. If they could figure all that out, the fruit was theirs.
Nine out of 12 goats mastered the task after around four tries. When the researchers had all the goats try again 10 months later, the majority still remembered how to work the system.
Anyone who has interacted with an elephant knows these animals are very smart. But just how smart are they? Researchers have performed numerous studies on the subject. One found that elephants can understand the difference between languages and whether a man, woman, or child is speaking.
How do they know? In Africa, only certain tribes hunt down elephants. Scientists played recordings of a group that does hunt them down and one that doesn’t. When the elephants heard the recordings of the elephant-hunting group, they became fearful and moved away from where the sound was coming from. When they heard the language of the group that doesn’t hunt them down, they didn’t move or change their disposition. Then, researchers played recordings of the language that scared them, but included women, children, and men. The elephants only became fearful when the voice came from men—they do the hunting.
One way that scientists measure intelligence is something called the mirror-self recognition test. The idea behind this test is to determine whether an animal can recognize themselves in front of a mirror. To figure that out, scientists place a colored marking on the animal’s body. Then they place them in front of a mirror. Most often, if the animals recognize themselves, they will show signs of trying to remove the marking from their bodies, like scratching or rubbing it off.
Many animals don’t pass this test. When they see their reflection in the mirror they think it’s another animal of their kind, and either run away and try to fight or scare the stranger.
source: popsci.com By Claire Maldarelli