You're not as smart as you think are. While writer Yuval Noah Harari wrote his best-selling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind about 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?
Like whales, dolphins are in the cetacean family, and their intelligence is so admired by some scientists that researchers like Thomas I. White of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and Loyola Marymount University believe that dolphins should be called "non-human persons." "Like humans, dolphins appear to be self-conscious, unique individuals with distinctive personalities, memories, and a sense of self, who are vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional pain and harm, and who have the power to reflect upon and choose their actions," White says.
Among their interesting behaviors, dolphins will think to check their reflections in a lab's mirror if they sense something is different about their bodies. At the New York Aquarium, two researchers noted: "We marked them on different parts of their bodies with a magic marker. Each dolphin... postured in front of the mirror and positioned itself in strange ways to expose the marked part of its body much the same way that you and I would if we passed a wall with wet paint on it. As soon as we get to the bathroom, we would look in the mirror and turn around to see if we got any paint on us."