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The smartest animals on the planet

Boysen, Sarah, 1949- Save to your list

Publication Details Cite/Export

  • Creator Sally Boysen ; with a contribution from Deborah Custance
  • Format Books
  • Publication Richmond Hill, Ont. ; Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, 2009.
  • Physical Details
    • 192 pages : color illustrations, maps ; 26 cm
  • ISBNs 9781554074563, 1554074568
  • OCLC ocn267120686


  • This fascinating book, written by a world authority on animal intelligence, brings together the cumulative research on the comparative intelligence levels of nonhuman "smart" species. Sally Boysen reveals how these intelligent animals communicate, learn behavior, show feelings and emotions and, for some species, how they use tools, count and sometimes pick up a foreign language.


  • Includes index.


  • Using tools. Woodpecker finches probe with sticks ; New Caledonian crows hook a treat ; Captive crows show talent for tool use ; Sea otters hammer their way to a meal ; Sea sponges provide padded protection ; Naked mole-rats protect their assets ; Why elephants use switches ; The wild chimp's toolkit ; Use of spears by wild chimpanzees ; Sumatrans get to grips with tools ; Wild gorillas stun researchers ; Wild capuchins adapt tool use to suit their environment ; Innovations with tools in captive capuchins ; Tool use in captive chimps -- Communication. Dance language of honeybees ; Ground squirrels look out for their own ; Wild vervet monkey "smart" alarms ; Baboons : kings of expression ; Diana monkeys spread the news ; Wild chimpanzees : masters of communication ; Signature whistles in dolphins ; Whales can really carry a tune ; Can elephants hear through their feet? -- Imitation and social learning. Monkey see, monkey do? ; Jungle copy cats ; Birdbrained is best ; The great ape debate ; Ape culture? -- Mirror self-recognition. Chimps use mirrors like we do-- to see how they look ; Dolphins give themselves admiring glances ; It's rude to stare : gorillas don't give mirrors a second glance ; Elephants get the idea-- with a very big mirror -- Numerical abilities. The case of "Clever Hans" ; You can count on an ant to find its way home ; Lions show roar talent ; Birds : the number crunchers ; Rats that can count ; Salamanders prefer more ; Young chimps learn to count -- Animal language studies. Can you really teach a chimp to speak? ; How a chimp learned sign language ; Chimps and humans : do two great brains think alike? ; Ask a dolphin and you'll get the right answer ; Koko, the only gorilla to learn sign language ; Is he smart, or just parrotting what he's heard? ; A young chimp keeps her answers in order ; An orangutan learns to sign ; Rocky, the sea lion with a logical approach -- Cooperation and altruism. "I'll scratch your back now, if you'll scratch my back later" ; Chimps "kiss and make up" after a fight ; Yawn and the world yawns with you : empathetic responses ; A dog's dinner is a shared affair ; Working together : is it teamwork or just a bunch of animals? ; Monkeys are quick to spot an unfair deal

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