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Animal Intelligence Under-rated By Humans, Researchers Say

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Dec 05, 2013 06:09 AM EST
Dolphin
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued a baby dolphin (not pictured) stranded close to shore on a Florida beach on the 4th of July, and all their efforts were captured on video. (Photo : Reuters)

For many millennia, we humans have considered ourselves superior, primarily due to our large brains and our ability to reason. However, we might not be as smart as we think. Researchers from Australia point out that there are different kinds of geniuses out there, some even better than us.

Dolphins can communicate via echolation, while hyenas use smell-based networking sites. Even the marmoset monkeys have figured out how to have a polite conversation, something many humans still find hard to follow.

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Dr Arthur Saniotis, Visiting Research Fellow with the University's School of Medical Sciences says that the concept of "ad nauseam", which means humans are exceptional by virtue and are "the most intelligent species on Earth" might not be true and that animals are intelligent in their own unique ways.

The idea that humans are exceptional probably emerged about 10,000 years back when humans decided to take up farming. The feeling of superiority went up a notch with the arrival of organized religion, which niftily put humans (especially man) at the center of Life and Universe.

"The belief of human cognitive superiority became entrenched in human philosophy and sciences. Even Aristotle, probably the most influential of all thinkers, argued that humans were superior to other animals due to our exclusive ability to reason," Dr Saniotis added in a news release

According to Professor Maciej Henneberg, a professor of anthropological and comparative anatomy from the School of Medical Sciences, humans have misunderstood animal intelligence.

"Animals offer different kinds of intelligences which have been under-rated due to humans' fixation on language and technology. These include social and kinaesthetic intelligence. Some mammals, like gibbons, can produce a large number of varied sounds - over 20 different sounds with clearly different meanings that allow these arboreal primates to communicate across tropical forest canopy. The fact that they do not build houses is irrelevant to the gibbons," Henneberg added.

Alexandra Horowitz and Ammon Shea had earlier said that although researchers conduct studies to understand animal intelligence, we might never be able to really judge how smart they really are because during the tests animals are being compared to us.

In their article, published in 2011, Horowitz and Shea list recent research on the subject and explain how animals have mastered the environment around them. Horowitz is the author of "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know," and Shea is the author of "The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads."

For all we know, Douglas Adams might have been right all along; mice could be the smartest creatures and probably conducting experiments on us.

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