10 Animals That Are Way Smarter Than You Think

Published on March 19, 2024

Credit: Louan García

While humans often pride themselves on their intelligence, the animal kingdom is filled with creatures whose smarts might surprise you. From advanced problem-solving skills to complex social systems, some animals demonstrate intelligence in ways that challenge our understanding of cognition.

Let's dive into the deep world of animal intellect and discover 10 species that are way smarter than you might think.



Credit: Anna Roberts

Chimpanzees share about 98.8% of their DNA with humans, and their intelligence reflects this close relationship. They can learn sign language, use tools, and even demonstrate empathy. Chimpanzees have complex social groups and show remarkable problem-solving abilities, using sticks to extract termites from mounds or rocks to crack open nuts.



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Elephants do have steel-trap memories, as their large brains evolved to allow them to remember complex routes and the location of key watering holes over vast distances. They also exhibit emotional intelligence, displaying human-like behaviors such as comforting distressed herd members and mourning their dead.



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With their complex nervous system and ability to solve puzzles, octopuses are some of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom. Besides being masters of deceit, capable of camouflaging with their surroundings and making daring escapes, they can display complex behaviors like opening jars, navigating mazes, and mimicking other creatures. Some individuals even learn to fashion makeshift weapons out of highly venomous Portuguese man o' war tentacles.



Credit: Tyler Quiring

Crows are among the most intelligent birds, capable of using tools and solving multi-step puzzles. They've been observed crafting hooks out of twigs to extract insects from hard-to-reach places and even dropping nuts onto busy roads to let passing cars crack them open for them. Researchers even think crows are capable of self-awareness, and their intelligence has been compared to that of great apes like gorillas, proving that brain size isn’t always a direct indicator of brainpower.



Credit: Talia Cohen

Dolphins are not only highly social creatures but also remarkably intelligent. Some scientists even believe they are the second smartest animal on the planet, only next to humans! Dolphins are very quick learners and have repeatedly proved to be self-aware, easily passing the mirror test. Also, they communicate through a sophisticated system of clicks and whistles, are capable of making and using simple tools, and exhibit a complex set of emotions.



Credit: Kenneth Schipper Vera

Pigs are often underestimated, but they possess impressive cognitive abilities. They can learn tricks, solve problems, and even play video games! Pigs have excellent long-term memories and can adapt to new environments quickly. On average, they are even considered to be smarter than dogs, approximating the intelligence of 4-year-old children.



Credit: Ilona Frey

Just like crows, parrots are exceptionally intelligent, and not only among their avian peers. Parrots are renowned for their ability to mimic human speech, but their intelligence goes beyond mere mimicry. They can solve puzzles, use tools, and demonstrate a deep understanding of concepts such as object permanence.



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Rats are highly adaptable creatures with excellent problem-solving skills. They can navigate complex mazes, learn from observation, and even demonstrate empathy by freeing trapped companions. For this reason, they are often used in laboratory settings, both to learn more about mammal intelligence and to test complex behaviors.



Credit: Thomas Lipke

Orcas, also known as killer whales, can be terrifyingly clever. One of the most adaptable predators in the seas, orcas owe a large part of their success to their astounding intelligence. They have distinct dialects and complex social lives, but what sets them apart from other cetaceans are their highly specialized hunting strategies. Even more strangely, some populations used to hunt alongside human whalers, alerting humans of the presence of whales and guiding them to their location in exchange for scraps.



Credit: MD_JERRY

While individual ants might not seem very smart by themselves, collectively, they exhibit remarkable intelligence. Similarly to a brain composed of individual neurons, an anthill effectively behaves as one "superorganism" composed by many individual ants. The anthill creates large structures and ingeniously gathers nearby resources to keep itself alive. But even at the individual level, ants are capable of navigating complex environments, communicating through chemical signals, and coordinating group activities easily.


Can You Decode These 10 Number-Based Idioms?

Published on March 19, 2024

Credit: Susan Holt Simpson

Language isn't just a tool for literal communication; it is a party where meanings and metaphors dance constantly.

In every language, there is a type of gem known as idioms that add spice to our conversations, relying on context and shared understanding to convey messages in a not-so-direct way.

Today, we'll explore 10 idioms in English that play with numbers . With these expressions, you'll be ready to add a touch of wit to any conversation with friends. After all, who said that numbers cannot contribute to your dialogue creativity?


One-horse town

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"Until they built the factory, our community was a one-horse town."

Many idioms begin their history as a literal phrase that then acquires new nuances over time. That is the case of "One-horse town."

This idiom is quite popular, and you have probably heard it throughout your life. Initially, it described a settlement so small that a lone horse could cover the entire population's needs.

Even though horses are no longer the main means of transportation anymore, the phrase has stuck. Yet, be careful; it can sometimes carry a bit of a negative connotation, as it may suggest that a place is boring or monotonous.

We've upgraded to cars and bikes, but the idiom is still hanging in there, adding a sprinkle of nostalgia to our chats.


It takes two to tango

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"It takes two to tango; both parents play a crucial role in their children's development."

You can perfectly understand this idiom when you see a couple dancing tango. Tango is a captivating Latin American dance and music style that's all about pairs. In the dance, the couple stays inseparable, creating this fusion of harmony and teamwork.

Today, the expression isn't just about pairing up for activities ; it can have a sneaky side, implying that these two folks might be up to something not entirely above board.

The idiom has its origin in the title of a song. Although written and composed in 1952 by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning, the lyrics gained more popularity with Pearl Bailey's version of the same year.

But it wasn't just confined to music. Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States, also helped to catapult the expression onto the world stage during a speech in 1982 .


Three-ring circus

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"The meeting turned into a three-ring circus with everyone talking over each other."

Traditionally, circuses offered a show inside a ring or stage , and sometimes there was more than one ring in the same circus tent. With three rings, the situation could become confusing , as many performances were going on at the same time.

Now, that circus scene has made its way into everyday language. Today you can pull out this versatile phrase to describe any chaotic, messy, or overwhelming situation you find yourself in.


On all fours

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"The two lawyers were on all fours, trying to reach a deal during the negotiation process."

This idiom is used to describe moments when you're down on hands and knees , either literally or figuratively . The expression is handy whether you're crawling like a baby, striking a yoga pose, or finding yourself in a slightly subordinate situation.

So, the next time you lose an earring or drop a fork under the table, you know what idiom to use to tell this anecdote.

But wait, there's more: this idiom also has another meaning . In some contexts - often in legal matters - the expression "on all fours with" doesn't refer to a physical position but figuratively illustrates that two things or situations are on equal footing, similar, or comparable.


Five-finger discount

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"The security cameras at the mall caught someone attempting to get a five-finger discount on electronics."

This one is the comedian of idioms, playfully implying that someone grabbed stuff without reaching for the wallet. The five-finger discount covers 100%, as it simply means to take something without paying for it .

On most occasions, it is used to describe shoplifting, as it refers to picking something that fits in one's hand.

It's a linguistic wink, a reminder that a touch of humor can sometimes soften the edges of a serious topic.


At sixes and sevens

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"The party planning committee was at sixes and sevens trying to coordinate the decorations and catering."

You have probably found yourself in a dilemma between two situations or options that involve a difficult decision to make . The more you think about it, the harder it becomes and the more chaos it generates.

There is an idiom to describe this feeling of confusion or hesitation . When you don't know which road to take, which movie to watch, or what flavor of ice cream to have today, you can say that you are "at sixes and sevens."

Though the exact origin of this saying isn't totally clear, some experts believe it goes way back to a 14th-century game . Back then, pulling a 5 or 6 meant you were in for a risky, dicey move. Over time, the numbers for the expression evolved to 6 and 7, but the whole idea of disarray, confusion, and risk stuck.


In seventh heaven

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"Winning a surprise award at the ceremony left me in seventh heaven, grateful for the recognition."

This idiom is all about happiness and positive energy. Bet you guessed it: its roots are found in the spiritual scene. In some belief systems, the seventh heaven is the highest - and, therefore, the best - place. It is a privileged site, full of delight.

So, when someone says they're in seventh heaven, it's like they're getting all the good stuff. No room for bad vibes or issues to worry about, just pure joy!


Behind the eight-ball

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"He hasn't studied for the exam, and now he's behind the eight ball at school."

Born in the 20th century, this idiom finds its origins in the game of billiards . Depending on the type of game, the player whose ball is behind the eight ball is in a seriously tricky spot with little chance of an easy escape .

When life puts you behind the eight ball, it means that you're in a difficult position, in trouble , or facing a challenging situation where finding a way out is no piece of cake.


On cloud nine

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"After receiving the unexpected promotion, she was on cloud nine for the rest of the week."

While there are some religious explanations for the origin of this expression, an alternative interpretation goes back to the classification of clouds made in the 20th century by the U.S. Weather Bureau . According to that list, the ninth cloud held the highest position. This might explain why the idiom is used to describe the top level of happiness you can experience.

Much like in "seventh heaven," being on cloud nine also implies a state of total euphoria. Used widely throughout the U.S., this phrase describes the kind of joy that makes you feel like you're flying the skies floating.

When you get the job you want, when your crush accepts you on a date, or when you eat your favorite dish, you can proudly declare, "I'm on cloud nine!"


A perfect ten

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"The project proposal was a perfect ten. The client immediately approved it."

Who wouldn't want to be a perfect ten? It's like the golden standard. But let's face it, getting there is not easy.

This idiom has literal translations in many languages and, in most of them, it means the same thing: Whether in sports competitions, contests, or even in some universities and schools, hitting that perfect ten means you've aced it, you've reached the highest level.

In everyday chit-chat, when you call something or someone "a perfect ten," you're putting the spotlight on their flawlessness, beauty, or efficiency . It's the kind of compliment that can make your day, depending on the attitude and the tone you use to say it.

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