from the world's big
What Are the Smartest Animals on the Planet?
New research produces surprising results about which animals are the smartest.
Humans aside, chimpanzees would have to be at the top of any consideration about relative intelligence of animals. They are most like us, sharing 99% of the same DNA, as we have have descended from the same ancestor species that lived 6-7 million years ago.
Chimps have a concept of self, are capable of symbolic thought, have a language, feel emotions, can utilize tools, like to socialize, and as we, humans, are making these subjective intelligence comparisions based on closeness to ourselves, certainly chimps would be our chosen brainiacs of the animal kingdom.
But a new study suggests that ravens are as smart as chimpanzees. How is it that small birds with presumably small brains can compete with much larger apes? It turns out that it's not the size of the brain that matters, but neuronal density and the structure of the brains.
"Absolute brain size is not the whole story. We found that corvid birds performed as well as great apes, despite having much smaller brains," said Can Kabadayi, doctoral student in Cognitive Science at Lund University in Sweden.
How did the researchers come to such a conclusion? They tested inhibitory control, which is basically the ability to override animal instincts to instead choose a more rational approach. A 2014 study by Duke University compared how 36 animals performed a challenge where they had to pull out food from a transparent tube which had openings on both sides. The less intelligent animals would try to get at the food directly, but the successful ones pulled it from the openings. Apes performed best on that test, but no birds were tested then.
This time around, scientists did the same test with ravens, jackdaws and New Caledonian crows. On every try, all of the ravens chose to enter the tube from the side openings. Crows and jackdaws did pretty well too, performing at the level of bonobos and gorillas.
Kabadai concluded: "There is still so much we need to understand and learn about the relationship between intelligence and brain size, as well as the structure of a bird's brain, but this study clearly shows that bird brains are not simply birdbrains after all!"
Are there other smart animals?
Dolphins are considered some of the smartest animals on Earth, with the ratio of their brain size relative to their average body size being second only to humans. Dolphins have been shown to recognize themselves in mirrors, to create language-like personalized whistles, solve problems and even follow recipes.
Watch this TED Talk from the neurobiologist Lori Marino for more dolphin facts:
Surprisingly, pigs have been shown to often outsmart dogs and close to the same intelligence level as chimps.
Apparently, pigs have excellent long-term memories, can comprehend and learn a symbolic language, and live in social communities where they learn from each other.
How do elephants fare? Surely, their sheer size has to count for something. Indeed, elephants have great memories and can remember friends and enemies for decades.
According to neuropsychiatrist Jon Lieff, "Elephant communication is elaborate involving many different vocalizations, and they 'speak' to family five miles away. Elephants are extremely collaborative, consoling and cooperative, and deeply mourn their dead."
One very curious case of an intelligent animal was a horse named Clever Hans. Horses are generally intelligent and can learn, but, overall, would not top this type of list. Clever Hans was different, however. Hans could do math! He could add, subtract, multiply, divide, do fractions, tell time, follow a calendar, differentiate musical tones, read, spell, and even understand German.
His handler could ask him "If the eighth day of the month comes on a Tuesday, what is the date of the following Friday?" And Hans would answer by tapping his hoof. Of course, it was proven that Hans was able to do all this by carefully observing the visual cues of his master rather than being actually intelligent. At least that's the "official" explanation.
What about dogs, you say? Their intelligence varies widely across breeds, but they can certainly learn new skills and exhibit emotional intelligence. But if you want a really smart pet, adopt a crow.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide with techno-acceleration.