What does it mean for a creature to be intelligent?

On a general day-to-day basis, you encounter a variety of people, each who have a different impact on you.  One of the main factors that determines this impact is their overall intelligence.  What is meant by intelligence?

According to the Oxford dictionary, intelligence is defined as, the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.  So thus, for a creature to be intelligent, that creature must possess the ability to acquire knowledge and skills, and apply them in relevant circumstance.  There are many different classes of animals that have intelligent behavior, and it is a fascinating topic.

One of the most intelligent group of animals are elephants.  Elephants are known for their incredible memory, and they are also known to show sympathy when members of their herd die.  Their sympathetic nature is very human-like.  It is incredible that these animals possess that kind of caring nature.  They are able to learn and use creative skills, such as painting.  They have been significant in agriculture, especially in Africa in ancient times.  They possess unique strength and intelligence, which is fascinating to mankind, but also helpful in the wild.

And probably the most intelligent group in the animal kingdom, are primates, specifically the clade simians.  This group includes monkeys and apes, some of which have similar DNA to humans.  Some species of simians can actually teach each other basic skills, that vary among their different tribes.  Some apes are able to recognize individuals in their group, and they understand the levels of authority within their own community.  They are able to utilize tools in the wild, and also while in captivity.  Most apes are able to communicate to humans, via sign language, which is truly an amazing ability.

The intelligence of animals is a topic that we do not, and really cannot fully understand, but it has been studied for centuries, and will continue to amuse us as we make new discoveries.

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