A Comparison of Human Intelligence and Animal Intelligence

Categories: Animal Intelligence

There are many differences between humans and animals. The most obvious of them being language, emotional intelligence, and cognitive traits. Animals also look very different from humans. Some of them are covered in fur, some have gills, others crawl on the floor. Humans have long since considered that due to our large brains and ability to reason, we are superior to animals. We have domesticated all kinds of animals and have certainly asserted our dominance over the animal kingdom. However, when considering whether humans are intellectually superior to animals, we must consider that there are many different kinds of intelligence and some animals may have some geniuses that are better than ours.

Professor Maciej Henneberg, a professor of anthropology and comparative anatomy, contends “animals offer different kinds of intelligence which have been under-rated due to humans’ fixation on language and technology.” Animals have systems of communications far more complex than any language known to man, they continually adapt to survive their environments, and many animals have senses that humans do not have which makes animals at least equal to humans in terms of intelligence.

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They are not inferior or less intelligent than humans, just different.

It’s true that animals do not have language as we know it. However, if animals had no methods of communication, how do wolves coordinate their hunts? Why do elephants have funerals for their dead and raid villages after an incident of poaching? [1] How do groups of chimps wage wars against eachother? Each of these complex behaviors is a clear example that animals have very intricate communication systems.

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In fact, there are researchers trying to decipher and understand the language of dogs, monkeys, and whales. Dolphins use vocal signals in the form of whistles, chirps, and screams. They produce whistles during social situations and can even call different family groups miles away. [2] There is also evidence that dolphins cry out when a member of their group is killed or forcefully separated. Monkeys have also developed visual, auditory, and olfactory signals to communicate. A female emperor tamarin curls her tongue to signal to her mate when she wants to offload her children to her mate. They also use calls identify themselves, alarm the group of an intruding group, or assert their dominance in the area [3].

Although animals do not use language in terms of words as we know it, they are still able to effectively communicate and even socialize amongst themselves and other species. There are many instances in which animals physically change to make them more suitable to survive in their environment, a phenomenon which occurs due to Natural Selection. Charles Darwin introduced the theory of Natural Selection in 1859, and it explains that organisms develop biological traits over time which help them to better thrive in their specific climate. Perfect examples of Natural Selection are Rat snakes, which are found all over the United States and vary in many different colors according to their surroundings. They can be yellow striped, black orange, green, or earth colored. They turn these different colors to remain hidden, avoid detection and to be able to hunt more easily. Even more impressive, Warrior Ants in Africa emit a chemical signal that lets other ants know they belong to the same group. Over time, they have learned to imitate another colony’s signal in order to go undetected [4]. Spotted Salamanders live near ponds and vernal pools, and because of this close proximity to algea, they have developed the ability to be solar powered through photosynthesis, just like a plant. They have algea in their very cells. They also secrete a mild toxin from their backs and tails (like many other reptiles) when they are threatened to protect themselves from potential predators [5]. These examples are only a few of hundreds of genetic changes animals go through in order to survive, and better adapt to their surroundings.

Animals also have keen senses that are uniquely theirs, which humans can only dream of having. Some of those extraordinary senses include: Ants’ ability to see polarized light which helps them when burrowing in dirt, honey bees having 5,500 lenses in each eye giving them super vision, crickets being able to hear using their legs and sense movement undergroung, and penguins having flat corneas that allow them to see clearly underwater [6]. These adaptations are specific to the needs of each of the animals, allowing them to see, hear, or feel in a much bigger sense than humans can. Silvertip grizzly bears can smell a person or animal from 18 miles away. They can actually small your fear [7], like many other predators, but can do so in double amount. This skill makes these bears extremely skilled hunters, as it is hard to hide from them. As you can see, animals have many unique traits and abilities which make them very intelligent in their own right. “Perhaps measuring animal intelligence by comparing it to human intelligence isn’t the best litmus test” (Ingrid Newkirk) [8]. Animals may not build cities and solve mathematical equations, but they have unique abilities that are small wonders. Research has also showed that many animal species have emotional intelligence. They share strong bonds with other animals, and even humans. Considering that animals have different but very complex communication systems, evolve genetic traits that make them more suitable to survival, and have unique senses incomparable to human senses, we can conclude that humans are not superior to animals in terms of intelligence, only different.


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A Comparison of Human Intelligence and Animal Intelligence. (2022, Feb 06). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-comparison-of-human-intelligence-and-animal-intelligence-essay

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