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Animal Intelligence

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Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?



For as long as time, scientists have been fascinated with studying the distinction between animals and humans. Primatologist, Frans de Waal's new book, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are, takes a further, in-depth look into the novel's title.

With 30 years of research comparing humans to animals, Waal says “instead of trying to prove humanity’s superiority, let’s use our big brains to see the world from the point of view of other species.”

As people are becoming more interested in animal intelligence, they are noticing animals acting in clever ways and doing things that cannot be explained. Videos on the Internet are appearing of animals with the capacity to use tools, learn new skills and finding intellectual ways to protect themselves from harm.

You’ve probably heard of Inky the octopus and escape artist, and know pigeons can deliver mail 1600 kilometres away, or even that elephants can sniff out the scent of 30 family members and build a map in their brains of where they are.

The internet is riddled with videos of cats secretly planning world domination and dogs who recognise their owners after long periods of time away. Let's not forget dolphins and chimpanzees - who are both equipped with communication skills. Animals are much smarter than we give them credit for!

Waal mentions animal intelligence has been underestimated. For a long time human egotism has created inaccurate assumptions about the intelligence of other creatures who walk the earth. In Waal’s new book, he has an in-depth look at the different species of animals, and what they are capable of. Some of these skills include planning abilities, tool use, co-operation and perception of time.

Waal mentions in his book, instead of trying to compare animal intelligence to human intelligence, we should be trying to understand them within the context of their species. The more we learn about animals, the more we can learn about ourselves.

For more animal news and tips, visit our website and tune into Bondi Vet, Saturday @ 6:30pm on TEN.