Which animal is the smartest? Scientists answer!
To understand how animals think and which animal is the most intelligent, it is necessary to take into account the evolutionary component.
Animal thinking flexibility
Intelligence is the ability to solve various kinds of tasks, while showing flexibility. Thinking is an internal process, for the “opening” of which experiments are needed. And there are many components of intelligence, each of which acts independently of the others.
Given all this, when studying the intellectual abilities of animals, it is very important not to forget just about flexibility. Without flexibility, no matter how complex the behavior may look, it, alas, has nothing to do with intelligence. And flexibility makes it possible to solve new problems and act in changed circumstances, which is extremely important for the survival and distribution of their genes.
Flexible thinking means having a goal that you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter what it is: food, partner, the best place to sleep, etc. And the difference is what options for achieving the goal you see, what you are doing and whether you are achieving it.
And also - are you able to break the global goal into smaller ones. For example, you need to open a can of canned food, but the can opener is lying somewhere on the top shelf of the cabinet. So, you may first have to bring a stepladder to get a knife, and then open the can. And only by solving these intermediate tasks can you finally satisfy your hunger.
Sometimes we take complex behavior for the manifestations of intelligence, but this can be a fallacy. Many animals are capable of complex behavior, but at the same time they lack flexibility - and everything becomes meaningless.
For example, take night moths. They exhibit rather complicated behavior, but how capable are these babies of flexibility? The light of stars helps them build intricate routes, and moths might seem very smart if not for the people who invented the lamps. Unhappy insects have still not been able to show flexibility, which is why they constantly die from fire. And they show enviable persistence, trying to get to the source of death! But this is not a manifestation of intelligence, but quite the contrary, even though the behavior is complicated.
What is the secret of animal thinking flexibility?
The concept of intelligence includes the ability to represent. This mechanism prevents direct contact with the environment and is sometimes vital. For example, it is very important for a deer to have an idea of what a predator looks like, so that, instead of a close personal acquaintance with it, it will immediately run away.
Insight matters - the ability to understand that what happened now as a result of your manipulation of objects or understanding how certain things work can be an excellent solution to the problem. For example, when a dog accidentally managed to open the heck on the gate and break free, it could illuminate: yeah, that's how this thing works! I can open it and go for a walk!
Both insight, and our ideas, and memory are an excellent basis for flexibility when a living creature can use the information stored in its memory and present the consequences of certain actions, which means choosing options.
Scientists have long tried to figure out which animal is the smartest. Some believe that a monkey.
All these mechanisms are perfectly illustrated by one of the experiments. The chimpanzee had to solve a computer problem: in front of it, numbers appeared on the screen (each time their location changed) and instantly disappeared. Chimpanzees needed to exactly repeat their location, and in increasing order (1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5). If everything was correct, the monkey received a treat. That is, you had to very quickly see the numbers, remember them and then repeat exactly. Chimpanzee brilliantly coped with the task.
So which animal is the smartest?
Different animals live in different environments and different conditions. Therefore, they need different abilities. And the ecological approach allows us to take these features into account when we analyze the behavior and thinking of various animals. And this view of the question is directly opposite to the assertion that intelligence can be measured by one measure - a trap into which many people fall.
Therefore, it is impossible to say which of the animals is smarter: a dolphin or an elephant. If we adhere to the ecological approach, we will look at what tasks these animals solve in the natural environment and how to cope with them. And what kind of thinking mechanisms developed in their evolution. So in the ocean, the dolphin is certainly smarter. And in the savannahs of Africa or the jungles of India, of course, the elephant is smarter. And in communicating with a person there is hardly anyone smarter than a dog.
In the photo: candidates for the title of “smartest animal”. But which of them is smarter, has not yet been found out. And will it ever be possible to measure the intelligence of animals with one measure? Hardly.