5. African Grey Parrot
The African Grey is a species of parrot that is found in the West and Central African rainforest. Parrots have long been able to show that they can mimic human speech, but the African Grey can associate words with their meaning and form small sentences. These birds communicate with each other through song, calls, and body language. African Grey’s can easily be trained to have conversations and perform activities. They are accomplished mimics, recreating voices and household noises perfectly. One specific example is Alex the bird. Alex can identify more then fifty objects, seven colors, five shapes, and a numerical value up to six. He understands the difference between big and small, over and under, and has even showed comprehension of emotion by telling his handlers “gonna go away” when becoming bored with testing. Then there is the story of the African Grey Parrot in Nagarey, Japan who was lost by his owners, wounded, and sent to a veterinary hospital. While in the hospital the bird began to talk with the vet proclaiming “I am Mr. Yosuke Nakamura.” He also gave his full home address right down to the last number. Sure enough he was right and returned to home, but not before entertaining the hospital with song and dance.
There are three living species of elephants, the African Bush Elephant, African Forest Elephant, and the Asian Elephant. All breeds are thought to inherit the same genetic genius. In many cultures elephants are seen as a symbol of wisdom and are known for their incredible memories. They create mental maps and are said to remember exact locations of watering and feeding holes they haven’t visited for years. An elephant’s
brain is the largest of any land animal. Elephants have incredible hearing and they use both their ears and trunk to listen. They communicate by bellows, roars, trumpet-like calls, and can even transmit sound over long distances using the ground. These animals are one of few species that have displayed mirror self recognition and can identify themselves as independent. This is considered a base test for empathy, altruism, and higher social interactions in a species. Elephants have been noted performing a wide variety of behaviors. Including actions associated with grief, making music, compassion, play, and advanced use of tools. Elephants have an incredible sense for artistic achievement. They can paint portraits that express themselves. Check out this amazing video of an elephant painting a three-dimensional picture of another elephant.
3. Rhesus Macaque Monkey
Besides humans, the macaque genus is the most widespread in the world. The Rhesus Monkey is well known for its intelligence and because of this has been used extensively in biological and medical research. These animals have an incredible memory, ability to learn, and make self-decisions. They use facial expressions that are very similar and understood by humans. Rhesus Monkeys have displayed suicidal tendencies, planned attack, and are very socially complex animals. They have detailed vocal systems that share similarities with human communication. Work on the genome sequencing of the Rhesus Monkey was completed in 2007, making it the second non-human primate to have this done. It showed that humans and macaques share 93% of their genetic DNA. The human and macaque chromosomes are mosaics of each other. This species of monkey, along with many others, has been used for monkey-baiting throughout history. This is a roman style fight between monkey’s and other exotic animals. Monkey’s performed admirably in these competitions, winning with intelligence. From this spawned the legend of Jacco Macacco, who was a celebrated monkey gladiator. With incredible technique and precision he usually dispatched of his opponent in three minutes or less.
2. Bottlenose Dolphins
The cetacean family, consisting of dolphins and whales are considered the smartest animals inhabiting the ocean. The Bottlenose Dolphin lives in warm waters throughout the world and is the smartest species of dolphin. It has an extremely large brain and its cerebral cortex and frontal lobe are 40% bigger then a human. The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain responsible for social communication, abstract information processing, problem solving, and higher lever intelligence. Bottlenose dolphins are very easily trained. They have been found to have the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas, and learn from previous experiences. They use echolocation to hunt prey and certain forms of squeaks and whistles to communicate with each other. It is also interesting to see that in many occasions these dolphins show remorse for other species and signs of a conscious. In one recent story, a local dolphin named Moko saved two beached Pygmy Sperm Whales in New Zealand. The whales had been stranded for hours when Moko showed up and led the pair through the sand bars to safety. It was a glorious sight for locals and made national news.
1. Common Chimpanzee
These animals can be found in the tropical forests and wet savannas of Western and Central Africa. Chimpanzee’s learn, perform organizational thinking tasks, and have a better memory then any other animal. They have been known to defeat college educated people in memory exams. They can be taught to use computers to solve numerical problems. This animal can quickly adapt and perform sign language to communicate with humans. Chimps have been observed using advanced knowledge of tools. This includes creating spears to retrieve animals out of small holes in trees, using branches to lure and catch prey, using stones to crack nuts, and leaf sponges to soak up water. They have been viewed using tactical attack maneuvers, such as flanking their prey. They often use mental manipulation within their families. The Chimpanzee Genome Project was completed in 2005. It showed that chimps share 98% of the same genetic DNA as humans. It has been approximately four to six million years since humans and chimpanzee’s diverged from their common evolutionary ancestor. Recently, chimpanzees have been seen teaching sign language to their infants without human interference. We have just begun to understand the chimpanzees true mental capabilities.