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The Most Intelligent Animal On Earth

Image by Alex LPH via Unsplash

In this post we’ll try to ascertain which animal is the most intelligent on earth.

An elephant herd, led by a Magnificent ‘Tusker’ bull at a waterhole in the Addo Elephant National Park.

Have you ever wondered which creature is the smartest on Earth? With so many species in existence, it can be a challenge to determine what makes one animal more intelligent than another. Especially considering that “intelligence” is really hard to define and can come in many different forms. 

But when you look at various abilities – from problem-solving, learning, memory recall, and communication – you’ll see that some animals stand out as particularly impressive.  

Let’s explore which animals are considered the most intelligent on Earth to discover what sets them apart and why they have earned themselves such accolades. Let’s jump straight in!

#1 Chimpanzees 

the most intelligent animal

Chimpanzees rank among the most intelligent creatures inhabiting our planet. With almost 99% DNA similarity to humans, they are highly social primates with distinct characteristics and abilities that set them apart from other primates. 

Here are some intriguing facts about chimpanzees that highlight their exceptional intelligence and position them as one of the most intelligent primates on Earth.

Problem-Solving Abilities

Chimpanzees have the impressive ability to solve complex problems. In one famous experiment, researchers presented chimps with a stick and a basket of bananas that were out of reach. Most chimps tried different ways to get to the bananas, but one chimp picked up the stick and used it to reach them, demonstrating the ability to use tools to solve problems.


The communication system of chimpanzees is remarkably intricate, involving an array of vocalizations, complex body movements, subtle facial expressions, and purposeful gestures. They can recognize over 100 vocalizations used for different purposes, from warning others of danger to expressing happiness or sadness.

Memory and Learning

Chimpanzees have an excellent memory and can remember things even after many years have passed. Researchers have observed that they can remember the location of hundreds of different fruits and nuts and their maturity stages, which helps them plan their foraging behavior. They can also learn from others and imitate their behavior, suggesting a high level of social learning.

Social Intelligence

Chimpanzees are renowned for their social nature, living in complex societies with strict hierarchical structures. They can recognize hundreds of individual faces and their relationships with each other. Moreover, they have a remarkable ability to form alliances and friendships that can last a lifetime. Just like us humans, they can show empathy and understand another’s emotional state.

Cultural Diversity

Chimpanzees have cultural diversity, which means they behave differently in different populations. Their tool-use behaviors and vocalizations vary depending on where they live. They can transmit cultural knowledge from one generation to the next.

Chimpanzees are undoubtedly the most intelligent primates on Earth, with a wide range of abilities that set them apart. From problem-solving to communication, memory recall, social intelligence, and cultural diversity. Their impressive skills are as diverse as their personalities. 

It’s no wonder they have captured the fascination of researchers, conservationists, and animal lovers worldwide.

Check out Chimpanzees: Intelligent, social and violent.

#2 Parrots 

the most intelligent animal

Parrots are one of the most intelligent avian species on our planet. They can mimic sounds and voices, problem-solve, and have a sharp memory. 

Here are some key reasons why parrots are super smart:


Parrots are known for their ability to mimic human speech but can also copy other sounds they hear in their environment – including phone ringtones or car alarms. This ability to learn and repeat sounds is impressive and shows their intelligence and adaptability.


Parrots use problem-solving skills to obtain food, toys, and other objects they want. They can use tools like sticks or rocks to reach what they want. It shows their ability to understand cause and effect and to use tools to achieve their goals.


Parrots have a good memory and can remember patterns and sequences. It is important for their survival in the wild, as they need to remember where food and water sources are and where to find shelter.


Parrots communicate with a variety of sounds and body language. They can learn and understand specific words and phrases and can use them to communicate with their human caretakers or other parrots.

#3 Elephants 


One of the most intelligent creatures on Earth is believed to be the elephant. With their substantial brain size, elephants can manage intricate social dynamics, communicate, and solve complex problems.

Here are some key reasons why elephants are memory powerhouses:

Long-term memory

Elephants have impressive long-term memory, which allows them to remember important locations and landmarks – such as where to find water sources or food. They can remember other elephants they encountered years ago, which is important for their social interactions.


Extensive use of acoustic signals and physical gestures is observed in elephants as a means of communication among themselves.

They have been observed using sounds and gestures to warn others of danger, communicate their mood, and coordinate group activities.


Elephants can use their intelligence to solve complex problems. They use tools like a stick for scratching an itch. Similarly, they work together to solve issues such as breaking down barriers.

Emotional Intelligence

Elephants can have many emotions, including joy, sadness, and grief. Observations reveal that elephants exhibit mourning behavior when a member of their herd passes away, and they may even visit the burial site of the deceased elephant. Their social intelligence and ability to understand emotions in others are truly remarkable.

Elephants are distinguished by their exceptional memory, adeptness in communication, problem-solving proficiency, and high emotional intelligence. 

Check out Truth or Tail: Elephants have good memories.

#4 Dolphins


Ranked high among the intelligent animals of the world are dolphins.

Here’s why:

  • They have a brain that is bigger and more complex than those of most other animals.
  • Also, they have exceptional communication skills, using a variety of clicks, whistles, and body language to communicate with one another.
  • They can solve problems and have even been observed using tools to accomplish tasks.
  • Dolphins are highly social creatures and reside in pods that participate in intricate social interactions.

Exceptional Socializing Abilities

Dolphins are the most intelligent of marine mammals and have many remarkable traits. Their social intelligence is one of their most impressive capabilities.

Research shows that dolphins can recognize themselves in mirrors, a sign of self-awareness that not many animals possess. Moreover, they form strong bonds with one another. They have been observed helping injured or sick pod members by supporting them and helping them to the surface to breathe.

Dolphins also employ coordinated hunting tactics, collaborating as a team to capture their prey. They have even been known to protect swimmers and surfers from sharks – even though they have no relation or obligation.

It is truly amazing that dolphins have such complex behavior and intelligence.

Check out Some dolphins are born party animals.

#5 Crows 

the most intelligent animal

Crows are another species that are considered highly intelligent – they are amongst the most intelligent avian species.

Crows can recognize and remember individual human faces. They are even capable of understanding the concept of cause and effect, allowing them to use tools to solve puzzles.

For example, they have been observed dropping nuts or other objects onto hard surfaces to crack them open and retrieve what’s inside. These clever birds have also been observed to use cars as “nutcrackers,” dropping hard-shelled nuts onto the road and waiting for a car to pass by and crack them open. This is a testament to the incredible intelligence of crows and their ability to quickly adapt to new situations and find creative solutions to problems.

Crows can remember where they have hidden food, even if it is moved or covered. Likewise, they can adapt to new situations and environments, such as learning to avoid roads and traffic.

Also, they are known to communicate with one another using a variety of calls and behaviors, such as warning each other of potential danger.

Here’s what sets them apart from other species:

  • They can use tools to accomplish tasks, such as using sticks to extract insects from trees or retrieving food from a difficult-to-reach location.
  • They have been observed using teamwork to achieve goals, such as working together to scare off predators.
  • Moreover, they can learn and remember faces, which has been shown to affect their behavior toward humans.

Check out Are crows the ultimate problem solvers?

Conclusion: The Most Intelligent Animal On Earth


Planet Earth harbors an assortment of intelligent species, with distinctive proficiencies and capabilities. From dolphins’ problem-solving aptitude to parrots’ impressive communication skills, these animals deserve recognition for their intelligence. Chimpanzees stand out as the most human-like regarding nurture, empathy, and locomotive skills, whereas elephants have earned respect due to their memory capacity. 

Now that you know all this it’s up to you to decide which one is the most intelligent animal on earth – it all depends on what capabilities you think is most important when judging intelligence.

In my personal opinion, I think that emotional capabilities is the most important factor when determining intelligence. Therefore, in my eyes, the elephant is definitely the most intelligent animal on our planet – the fact that they mourn their deceased ancestors blows my mind.

Thank you for reading this article! The animal kingdom possesses many, many more amazing talents – take a look at our post on the Top 10 Fastest Animals.

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