We may think we're pretty smart, but animals like dolphins are pretty smart too. For over 30 years, scientists have been trying to determine how smart dolphins really are. Bottlenose dolphins have a brain-to-body-weight ratio that is only second to humans, and they also have a very complex neocortex
, the part of the brain that is responsible for traits typically associated with human intelligence, such as problem-solving and self-awareness. Researchers have even found that dolphins have von Economo neurons, which are associated with emotions, social cognition, and the ability to sense what others are thinking. Besides dolphins, people may be underestimating the intelligence of animals in general. Here are just a few links related to animal smarts.
- Recently, divers off the coast of Kona in Hawaii caught video footage of a bottlenose dolphin asking a human for help to get out of a tangle of fishing lines. The dolphin swam up to one diver as he gestured with his hand for it to come closer. The diver removed a fishing hook out of the dolphin's left pectoral fin, and at one point the dolphin had to surface for air, but it went back so that the diver could finish untangling it. [url]
- Dog owners can now figure out just how smart their dogs are with Dognition. It's a web app that lets dog owners record the results of their experiments, which involve playing games with their dogs designed to assess five dimensions of intelligence (empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning). The data collected from the Dognition project could help scientists better understand the way dogs think and behave. [url]
- Dogs are able to subtly alter the timing, pitch, and amplitude of their barks to produce a variety of sounds that could have different meanings. While humans may have trouble distinguishing between a "food growl" and a "stranger growl," studies have shown that dogs can recognize the meaning of particular barks and growls of other dogs. [url]
- Here are eight other animals that show notable signs of intelligence: Chimpanzees have DNA that is more than 98% identical to human DNA; elephants exhibit self-awareness; cephalopods are curious and have the ability to learn and use tools; crows are crafty; squirrels can be deceptive; dogs can understand people's intentions; cats are extremely adaptable; and pigs can distinguish between familiar scribbles on a screen and ones that they have never seen before. [url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post