What is the most intelligent species on the planet?

The vanity of humans is that we are so intelligent that it puts us apart from all other life.

I reckon that is simply wrong.

We probably haven’t been the most intelligent species on the planet in the past and we probably aren’t now.

If there is a correlation between brain size then we are not the most intelligent species of Homo. Homo neanderthal had bigger brain capacity than us.

Homo neanderthal brain size was larger than the average modern human brain. It averaged 1500 cubic centimetres and an average 3.3 lbs while Homo sapiens has a  brain volume of just 1273.6 cm3 for men,

Does that mean they were more intelligent? We’ll never know. We do know that they were the first to produce artwork and created abstract work that seemed to have some shamanic meaning.

In terms of other animals on the planet our brains are a lot smaller than a number of other species. A human brain weighs on average 3.3 lbs. The largest brains are those of sperm whales, weighing about 8 kg (18 lb) – nearly 6 times larger than us!! And then killer whales, weighing about 12–15 lb (5.4–6.8 kg) – 4 to 5 times as big!! An elephant‘s brain weighs just over 5 kg (11 lb) and a bottlenose dolphin‘s 1.5 to 1.7 kg (3.3 to 3.7 lb). We are by no means the animals with the biggest brains.

Perhaps they are all more intelligent than us? We judge them by the fact that they do not produce any technology, read, write or speak. But maybe all that is just our anthropomorphic thinking. Who know what intricate thoughts they have?

Many other creature from Apes to crows display intelligence.

Perhaps we should not think of ourselves as being so special?

15 thoughts on “What is the most intelligent species on the planet?

  1. I shouldn’t smirk, but…
    Why did you think the reader would need a lb = kg explanation?
    Why the switch halfway from lb/kg, to kg/lb? Was that an oversight, an attention span deficit problem, simply an unwitting accident or just to keep the reader on their toes?

  2. I do agree that we’re probably not so special. Orca pods each have a specific culture and language that is different to other pods, indicating learning and high levels of intelligence. The recent Blue Planet showed the intelligence of seal hunting, and also an octopus working with a grupa(?) to catch prey. There were incredibly intelligent responses to avoid threat. I’m not sure that a straightforward brain weight comparison is a good argument though for superior intelligence in a species. What is intelligence anyway? I prefer to think of it as a verb rather than a noun indicating a quantity or capacity of some thing. The concept of intelligence as a noun is very very misleading. When we think of intelligence as something you do, rather than something you have, then, human intelligence becomes highly questionable.

    1. Particularly when it so obviously works on a from – to basis. Human death for example, outwith the realms of disease or murder, it’s usually accidental. Other than road kill, other species seldom ever suffer an accidental death.
      Yes, agreed, human intelligence is highly questionable.

    2. Hi Safar – looking at the way animals behave it is obvious to me that there is great intelligence at work.
      Using brain size is extremely crude and not really any real indication of intelligence. It merely served the purpose of illustrating that we are different but not special.
      I’m not really sure how one might define intelligence or measure it. I merely feel that human vanity tries to separate us from other creatures and that is wrong.

      1. A very detrimental error, I’m in agreement. You might be interested in a long read article in the Guardian today about scientific racism or racist science (research into genetic differences in intelligence).

  3. Most psychologists would quantify intelligence in terms of lingual ability. No animal comes near the human in that respect. What’s important is what a brain does not how large it is. Even the simplest animal can demonstrate intelligence eg. a goldfish can be taught to select a target which produces a food reward. Is that intelligence? I prefer to quantify intelligence in terms of adaptation eg. how successfully an animal adapts to its environment. On that basis I rate humans as pretty unintelligent since we appear to be hell-bent on destroying our environment.

    1. I’m not sure about that Bede. The communication of many cetaceans is complex and they are extremely social. Is linguistic skill to be the only thing of value? What strange thoughts, ideas and dreams do other animals possess?
      Intelligence comes in many forms. You can see that with different people. Bt it is true that we are being remarkably unintelligent when it comes to how we are running the world and trashing the planet.

  4. Ilbs are still used as a measurement in the USA as are miles whilst kilos and kilometres are generally used in Europe so I don’t see a problem including both types of measurement in a blog which is worldwide.

      1. I thought it was a fair question. Why didn’t you answer it?
        Why did you switch over half way from lb/kg to kg/lb, as at first I hadn’t noticed but was somewhat confused with the figures. Anyway…who cares.

  5. I enjoyed your voyage into the murky depths of human intelligence. We know so little about how the brain works – and even less about how the brains of other species work. The crux of the problem is what is meant by the word ‘intelligence’. Although I’m not qualified to offer a definition, I do know from my life experience that our human brains are wired differently from person to person. Traditional IQ tests are invalid – especially when used to compare persons from different cultures. Having said all that, Humans, in general, are far too intellectually arrogant to survive. How can you characterize our determination to destroy this environment as anything else but ‘unintelligent’? Thanks Opher.

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