You're not as smart as you think are. While writer Yuval Noah Harari wrote his best-selling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankindabout the hubris and social bonds of humans, the animal kingdom is full of wondrous intelligence and social structures. "You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven," Harari quips, but chimpanzees are capable of outperforming humans at certain memory tasks, and they demonstrate empathy, altruism, and self-awareness through their problem-solving skills. Many regard them as the smartest non-human species in existence, but plenty of other animals have fascinated scientists in their studies of the brain, even challenging conventional understanding of what "intelligence" is.

For instance, whales' emotional intelligence and empathy may result in mass strandings because of their close social bonds. A crow can remember the face of a human who hurt them for years, and they can even pass on the information to another crow as a warning to stay away from that human. What was the nicest thing you've done for your friends lately?

Sperm Whales

Sperm whales can reach up to 67-feet long, which makes tracking their behaviors to evaluate their intelligence difficult for researchers. But their brain size is the largest of any animal on earth, and all sperm whales are thought to have descended from the same female (nicknamed "Eve"). But brain size doesn't strongly correlate to intelligence; its sperm whales' behaviors that illuminate what thoughtful creatures they are.

"Dolphin and whale societies are at least as complex as what we have observed in primates," said evolutionary biologist Susanne Shultz. "They are extremely playful, they learn from each other, have complex communication. One problem for understanding just how smart they are is how difficult it is to observe them and to understand their marine world. Therefore, we have only a glimpse of what they are capable of."

For instance, sperm whale vocalizations are observed to be distinct in different regions, leading to comparisons to different dialects of human language. Some have even proposed that whales call each other by specific names.


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