Humans may not be exactly "smarter" than animals in the way we've thought about it for thousands of years, two scientists at the University of Adelaide say. In fact, they contend, many animals have cognitive abilities that match -- and sometimes far surpass -- human ones. Says Phys.org:
"For millennia, all kinds of authorities – from religion to eminent scholars – have been repeating the same idea ad nauseam, that humans are exceptional by virtue that they are the smartest in the animal kingdom," says Dr Arthur Saniotis, Visiting Research Fellow with the University's School of Medical Sciences.
Professor Maciej Henneberg, a professor of anthropological and comparative anatomy from the School of Medical Sciences, agreed, saying that we often don't understand the cognitive abilities animals possess, and so misjudge them.
"The fact that they may not understand us, while we do not understand them, does not mean our 'intelligences' are at different levels, they are just of different kinds. When a foreigner tries to communicate with us using an imperfect, broken, version of our language, our impression is that they are not very intelligent. But the reality is quite different," Professor Henneberg says.
"Many quadrupeds leave complex olfactory marks in their environment, and some, like koalas, have special pectoral glands for scent marking. Humans, with their limited sense of smell, can't even gauge the complexity of messages contained in olfactory markings, which may be as rich in information as the visual world," he says.