Animal Intelligence

Animal cognition encompasses the mental capacities of non-human animals including insect cognition. The study of animal conditioning and learning used in this field was developed from comparative psychology. It has also been strongly influenced by research in ethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology; the alternative name cognitive ethology is sometimes used. Many behaviors associated with the term animal intelligence are also subsumed within animal cognition.

Researchers have examined animal cognition in mammals (especially primates, cetaceans, elephants, dogs, cats, pigs, horses, cattle, raccoons and rodents), birds (including parrots, fowl, corvids and pigeons), reptiles (lizards, snakes, and turtles), fish and invertebrates (including cephalopods, spiders and insects).

Source: Animal cognition (

What we can learn from California's surfing sea otter

At first it looks like she is up to her usual tricks again. A southern sea otter, with her thick, dark fur glistening with water – as though she has been dipped in tar – is floating along in the foamy waves off the coast of Santa Cruz, California. On a surfboard.

The human-chimp bond captured in an iconic photo

On 14 July 1960, 26-year-old Jane Goodall arrived by boat to the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania. Here, in what is now Gombe Stream National Park, her ground-breaking scientific research into chimpanzee behaviour began.

Birds get revenge by using anti-bird spikes in nests

In cities around the world, anti-bird spikes are used to protect statues and balconies from unwanted birds - but now, it appears the birds are getting their own back.

The scientists coaxing back nature with sound

Beyond human hearing, a cacophony of natural clicks, whistles and hums pass all around us, linking billions of living beings in networks of sound. Mother whales whisper to their young so predators can't hear them. Bees emit unique buzzing signals to distinguish threats from specific predators.

Bumblebees learn to solve puzzles by watching peers, study finds

Bumblebees learn to solve puzzles by watching their more experienced peers, scientists in Britain have found. Experts from Queen Mary University of London trained a set of bees to open a puzzle box containing a sugar reward.

Orca mothers make 'lifelong sacrifice' for sons

Rearing a son significantly reduced a female killer whale's chance of reproducing in the future. The energy they need to feed sons appears to compromise their health, leaving them less able to reproduce and raise other young.

Is this monkey really cuddling a pet mongoose?

The image appears to show a bonobo cuddling a little mongoose like a treasured pet. But instead, maybe the monkey took the mongoose pup for dinner after killing its mother. But that would be unusual - bonobos mainly eat fruit and only occasionally hunt.

The mysterious inner life of the octopus

It was a big night for Inky the octopus. The day's visitors had been and gone, and now his room in the aquarium was deserted. In a rare oversight, the lid of his tank had been left ajar.

'Democratic' jackdaws use noise to make decisions

Jackdaws use a "democratic" process to decide when to leave their roosts en masse, scientists have discovered. Thousands of jackdaws can suddenly take to the morning skies in winter, creating a whirling black cloud of creatures.

Do animals have imagination?

An eight-year-old juvenile chimpanzee named Kakama trudged along a path among the forest trees, following his pregnant mother. A scientist sat silently at a distance, watching Kakama pick up a log and carry it with him for hours.

Epic 7,500-mile cuckoo migration wows scientists

One of the longest migrations recorded by any land bird is about to be completed. Using a satellite tag, scientists have monitored a cuckoo that has just flown more than 7,500 miles (12,000km) from southern Africa to its breeding ground in Mongolia.

Emergence – How Stupid Things Become Smart Together

How can many stupid things combine to form smart things? How can proteins become living cells? How become lots of ants a colony? What is emergence? This video was made possible by a donation by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. A huge thanks to them for their support and help over the last ye


In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own, properties or behaviors which emerge only when the parts interact in a wider whole.

Mother seals recognise pup's voice at two days old

Now, research led by the California-based scientist has revealed that mother elephant seals can pick out their own baby's voice just two days after pups are born. This ability helps pups - and mothers - survive during a precarious time.

Small Spider Lifts Snail Shell Up Tree - Madagascar - BBC Two

Subscribe and 🔔 to OFFICIAL BBC YouTube 👉 Stream original BBC programmes FIRST on BBC iPlayer 👉 More about this programme: Unique behaviour as a snail shell spider hoists an empty shell up high to saf

From The Conversation

Reader Question: We now know from evolutionary science that humanity has existed in some form or another for around two million years or more. Homo sapiens are comparatively new on the block. There were also many other human species, some which we interbred with.

In pictures: The life of Ndakasi, a gorilla who went viral

Ndakasi, a beloved mountain gorilla who went viral after posing for a relaxed selfie with rangers, has died after a long illness aged 14.

The beavers returning to the desert

As we head towards the end of another extraordinary year, BBC Future is taking a look back at some of our favourite stories for our "Best of 2021" collection. Discover more of our picks here.

The Billion Ant Mega Colony and the Biggest War on Earth

Sources: In nearly every corner of the Earth, ants wage war against each other. Their weapons are what nature gave them. Some have strong armour, deadly stingers or sharp mandibles. And then there is this tiny, and not very impressive ant. But it

Pigs can play video games with their snouts, scientists find

Pigs can play video games, scientists have found, after putting four fun-loving swine to the test. Four pigs - Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory - were trained to use an arcade-style joystick to steer an on-screen cursor into walls.

Electric eels work together to zap prey

More than 200 years after the electric eel inspired the design of the first battery, it has been discovered that they can co-ordinate their "zaps". Researchers working in the Amazon filmed eels gathering in packs to herd prey, then stunning them with a synchronised electric shock.

Why do animals like to play?

Say you're walking your dog in the park, when he comes face to snout with another dog. An intricate dance begins, as if each movement was precisely choreographed. The dogs visually inspect each other, sniff each other, walk circles around each other. And then the fight begins.

From The MIT Press Reader

One of the key findings over the past decades is that our number faculty is deeply rooted in our biological ancestry, and not based on our ability to use language. Considering the multitude of situations in which we humans use numerical information, life without numbers is inconceivable.

A Bee C: Scientists translate honeybee queen duets

Scientists using highly sensitive vibration detectors have decoded honeybee queens' "tooting and quacking" duets in the hive. Worker bees make new queens by sealing eggs inside special cells with wax and feeding them royal jelly.

When two baboon troops go to war

Two troops of baboons have been filmed going to war, with hundreds of monkeys entering into a pitched battle. The fight, filmed by the BBC Natural History Unit, appears to be triggered by male baboons attempting to steal females from the harems of rivals.

Unlocking meerkats' alarm calls

A study has shed light on how certain alarm cries made by meerkats are more effective than others at alerting the group to possible dangers.Researchers from Switzerland and South Africa suggest "non-linearities" make the cries "unpredictable", distinguishing them from other calls.

Gorillas 'ape humans' over games

Gorillas play competitive games just like humans, according to scientists at the University of St Andrews. The gorillas at San Francisco Zoo were observed over a period of five years playing with a variety of equipment.

Monkey invents new way to break into coconuts

The monkey, known as 'Pinocchio' by the scientists studying him due to his big nose, first rolls a nut down to the docks on the island of Cayo Santiago, which lies to the east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. He then throws the nut up into the air and watches it smash onto concrete.

Chimps use cleavers and anvils as tools to chop food

For the first time, chimpanzees have been seen using tools to chop up and reduce food into smaller bite-sized portions. Chimps in the Nimba Mountains of Guinea, Africa, use both stone and wooden cleavers, as well as stone anvils, to process Treculia fruits.

Ants work with acacia trees to prevent elephant damage

A species of acacia tree found in Eastern Africa seems to be protected from elephant damage - by the ants that live on it.

Animals 'are moral beings'

Some animals can feel and think in ways not too dissimilar from us, welfare campaigners say. They say there is evidence of altruism, with some animals acting disinterestedly for the good of others.

Does city life make animals smarter?

Some thought they would be the Fort Knox of bins. Well, sort of. Resistant to marauding raccoons, or at least that was the hope. To residents of Toronto, Canada, raccoons are a familiar pest. The mammals adore rummaging through household waste, seeking out scraps of food.

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