5 Most Intelligent Animals In The World

Have you ever seen an animal do something intelligent that you’d expect to see from a human being? While there are some animals that are lower on the intelligence spectrum that luck their way into good ideas every now and then, there are certain species where it’s almost expected that they do something smart.

Those species of animals might not be exactly what you think, though. We tend to think of dogs as being among the smartest animals outside of humans, and while they do certainly rank high, they aren’t at the top of the ladder. Instead, there are five species that have an intelligence level that gets close to the human level, with these species being at the top.


There’s no surprise chimpanzees hold the title of one of the most intelligent animals in the world. We humans share nearly 99% of identical genomes with the great apes. Chimpanzees, similarly to humans, possess their level of intelligence and ability to learn and develop due to a special outer layer of the brain, called the neocortex. 

It’s responsible for sensory perception, emotion, and cognition. Chimpanzees use their intelligence to make and use tools, show more social and communication skills than other animals and haven’t even been known to start fires and cook their meals. 


Elephants are majestic creatures that fill us with wonder and perhaps a bit of fear with their stature and sometimes unpredictable behavior. Thanks to their massive size, elephants have one of the largest brains of any animal on the planet, as well as the largest brain of any land animal. Their large brains possess three times more neurons than that of human brains. Elephants showcase their intelligence in many intriguing ways. 

They’ve been known to paint and perform tricks in captivity. In the wild, they demonstrate their intelligence with their extensive memory skills, practicing empathy, their understanding of death, and their ability to learn. 


Scientists believe that dolphins are the second most intelligent animal on the planet, second to humans of course. Surprisingly believed to be even smarter than primates. Dolphins have an estimated IQ between 80-90, shown by their sense of self-awareness, empathy, ability to comprehend grief, and learning skills. 

An interesting way dolphins are deemed smarter than the rest is their physical and mental awareness. Dolphins are able to recognize themselves in mirrors and have shown confidence and uncertainty in performing tasks of varying difficulty, such as humans. 


Crows may be overlooked as one of the more intelligent animals out there. We tend to only pile mammals into that group. Though crows, similarly to parrots, ravens, and jays, are some of the most intelligent birds on the planet. So what makes crows so special? Crows have demonstrated skills similar to the animals previously mentioned on this list. 

Due to their large brains in comparison to their smaller bodies, crows possess and understand communication skills, they’re keen on problem-solving, they can make and use simple tools, they hold funerals for their loved ones, and show impressive memory skills. Even more impressive, crows are able to solve puzzles at a similar level of intelligence to that of a young child. 


The final animal on our list is the insanely intriguing ocean dweller that is the octopus. It’s generally common knowledge that octopuses have displayed a higher level of intelligence compared to many other oceanic creatures. 

What intelligent behavior sets them apart from so many others? Like humans, scientists have discovered the presence of a special gene called the “jumping gene” in octopuses that allows genome evolution and innovation. Octopus are able to adapt, learn, solve problems, and mimic other creatures. They can even manipulate objects to escape, gain access to food, and alter their surroundings. 

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