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Rats solve puzzles

Rats solve puzzles
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You might not think of rats as the smartest animals, since humans are continually using them for experiments. But did you consider that the reason we use them is because they’re smart, and can handle the puzzles we throw at them? They can memorise routes (hence, the mazes), even though their eyesight is far, far less acute than ours is. And their problem-solving skills are on par with those of dogs, despite their brains being much smaller. Equally impressive, a Harvard Business Review study found that “even though the rat brain is smaller and less complex than the human brain, research has shown that the two are remarkably similar in structure and function.”

Pigs use mirrors

Pigs use mirrors
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Pigs may as well be man’s best friend, according to a 2015 paper from the International Journal of Comparative Psychology. Like dogs, pigs have been shown to understand emotions, demonstrate empathy, solve mazes, learn simple symbolic languages and, most adorably, make best friends. As some of the smartest animals in the world, the youngest pigs even put our youngest humans to shame. In an experiment where wee British piglets had to use mirrors to divine the path to a hidden bowl of food, piglets as young as six weeks old learnt the concept of reflection within a few hours – a milestone that takes baby humans several months to grasp.

Check out these 14 beautiful animals that could disappear in your lifetime.

Pigeons can memorise images

Pigeons can memorise images
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Here’s another of the smartest animals that you probably have the exact opposite impression of. Pigeons, despite their comically ‘clumsy’ walking style and seemingly vacant stares, are not as bird-brained as you might think! In a complex German study, pigeons were shown 725 random black-and-white images one at a time. They were able to differentiate between the images in an identification game that, according to Psychology Today, would give most humans trouble. We’re not saying that the next time you shoo a pigeon it’ll remember your face for all eternity, but you might want to be careful just in case!

Portia spiders use trial-and-error

Portia spiders use trial-and-error
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What the heck is this thing?! Well, it’s a genus of spider whose undeniable intelligence is about to turn up the dial on your arachnophobia. (Luckily, they pose no danger to humans!) There are multiple species of Portia, which are native to Southeast Asia, parts of Africa and northern Australia. And their hunting tactics show clear evidence of problem-solving abilities – if one technique doesn’t work, they’ll give something else a try, altering their method if something works on one species of prey spider and not another. They’ve earned the nickname ‘eight-legged cats’ because of their skilful, intelligence-driven hunting. Sometimes they’ll take hours upon hours to stalk a single prey spider, perching on its web and moving so slowly that they don’t cause any reverberations that might clue their prey in.

Crows know physics

Crows know physics
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Not only can crows recognise faces to differentiate between predatory and benign species, they also understand basic physics (like this lab crow who mastered water displacement to manoeuvre a treat within reach), have been known to change entire migration patterns to avoid farms where crows have been killed in the past, and may even memorise city garbage routes so they can snag food droppings on garbage collection day. Talk about some of the smartest animals! Cool, calculating, and known to harbour a grudge, crows shouldn’t be compared to gangsters, per se, but we do feel obligated to remind you that a group of them is called a ‘murder’.

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Source: RD.com

  • Melissa Caughey, author of How to Speak Chicken and A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens
  • Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics

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