by Christina Sarich
Image: Carl Safina
Intelligence of Animals
Humans have long thought themselves to be the smartest animals on
the planet but evidence continues to reveal that even with little
shared DNA, animals are catching up, and perhaps even surpassing our
own evolutionary intelligence.
Some philosophical perspectives suggest that this anthropomorphic
egocentrism is misplaced, since all creatures, not just people, have
'mind,' which is capable of evolving toward higher levels of
We share a quarter of our
DNA, after all, with a single grain of rice, but there is something
even more intelligent in our design and many believe it permeates
The Buddhists and Taoists regularly call for us to be mindful of all
sentient beings, while the suppositions of
panpsychism, the view that mind
(psyche) is everywhere (pan), reaches back into ancient Greece and
the teachings of
Terrence McKenna supposes that
the Universal psyche has been given an extra push overtime.
He theorizes that animals
moved to grasslands as the North African jungles receded after the
ice age. These animals grazed on whatever they could find, including
psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing in the dung of ungulate
McKenna suggests that the
psychedelics in the animals' diets helped to create
synesthesia, and then language,
followed by additional higher-intelligence skill sets.
McKenna argues that when mushrooms disappeared from their diets
another 12,000 years later due to climate change, animals simply
regressed back to less intelligent primates.
Animals are catching up,
and perhaps even surpassing
our own evolutionary intelligence.
Mainstream science says that it is only subtle refinements in our
brain's architecture that allows us to be 'smarter' than most other
While dogs can't yet
compose music, birds do it every day. Perhaps the expression is not
as complex as a violin concerto, but even the most rarefied composer
has looked to nature for musical inspiration, if not immaculate
No matter what drives our evolution, though, there is clear evidence
that it is changing - obviously in people - but perhaps more
subtlety in animals from a number of species.
Footage of animals learning to use tools provides evidence of this
evolutionary shift happening to all of us on Earth, not just the
human race, but there are other indications of intelligence as well.
We all seem to be
If consciousness is truly primordial and all things are just 'minds
in a world of mind' it would explain some of the fascinating
behaviors of animals in recent times.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have caught
New Caledonian crows carrying
two items at once using a stick–a feat normally only seen in the
First, one crow
slipped a wooden stick into a metal nut and flew away, and just
a few days later another crow conducted a similar behavior,
carrying a large wooden ball with a stick.
Ravens were found to be
just as clever as chimps,
Octopuses exhibit amazing
abilities, including short and long-term memory.
They've even been
known to sneak aboard fishing vessels and pry open crabs caught
be fishermen–no tools needed. They are also such great escape
artists, they can squeeze through openings no bigger than their
Scientists also have documented monkeys, called
Serra da Capivara capuchins,
making stone 'tools' that bear a striking resemblance to early
human implementations for digging, cutting meat, or opening
The sharp rock
'tools,' which they make by banging one rock on top of another,
are so similar to ancient tools made by early humans that
archeologists are having to rethink giving credit to previous
sharp-edged stone flakes.
Chimps in Bakoun, Guinea
recently stunned scientists when they were found using long
twigs like fishing poles, dragging the rods in water to scoop up
algae that they could then eat.
The footage is an
affront to the notion that people are the only intelligent
creatures with an ability to consciously evolve.
Chimpanzees fishing for algae
with tools in Bakoun, Guinea.
bees are exhibiting more complex behaviors.
Researchers at Queen
Mary University of London (QMUL) have discovered that bumblebees
can learn how to carry out complex instructions, and then pass
that knowledge along to other bees in the hive.
Scientists set up an experiment with three artificial flowers
containing sugar-water and attached pieces of string to each
They were then placed
inside a clear, plexiglas panel with just the strings poking
out. Researchers were curious to see if the bees could
problem-solve and get the 'nectar' from the fake flowers.
Out of a control group of 110 bees, only two figured out how to
pull the strings to get to the nectar. They did this with no
training. A second group was then 'trained' by moving the
flowers out of reach gradually.
This group did much
23 out of 40
learned to pull the strings to get the reward.
Amazingly, when a new
group of bees was introduced to the problem, 60 percent were
able to pick up the new skill simply by observing the other
'trained' bees access the reward.
learning to pull strings
for a reward.
Beings are Evolving
Researchers learned that the transmission of knowledge
(consciousness) does not require sophisticated cognitive abilities,
which only humans currently have, and that many animals may have
more intelligence than we have given them credit for.
The nervous system of
insects may not be as complex as ours, with the capability of
transmuting energy through the chakras as ancient martial artists
and yogis have done, but even with minds totally unlike ours, it
appears that all sentient beings are indeed
evolving toward a grander design and expanded