Humans have the opportunity to learn not only from our primates; but also from dolphins, dogs and elephants as they exhibit immense brain power.
Baboons can distinguish between written words and jargon, where as monkeys seem to be able to do multiplication. Apes can delay instant gratification longer than a human child can. They plan ahead. They make war and peace. They show empathy. They even share.
"It's not a question of whether they think; it's how they think," says Duke University scientist Brian Hare. Now scientists wonder if apes are capable of thinking about what other apes are thinking.
Dolphin brains are completely different from primates, especially in the neocortex, which is central to higher functions such as reasoning and conscious thought.
Some researchers say dolphins come as close to humans as our ape and monkey cousins or maybe even closer even though they are so distantly related to humans that it's been 95 million years since we had even a remotely common ancestor. Yet when it comes to intelligence, social behaviour and communications they are quite a competitor.
"They understand concepts like zero, abstract concepts. They do everything that chimpanzees do and bonobos can do," said Lori Marino, a neuroscientist at Emory University who specializes in dolphin research. "The fact is that they are so different from us and so much like us at the same time."
Dolphin brains look nothing like human brains, Marino said. Yet, she says, "the more you learn about them, the more you realize that they do have the capacity and characteristics that we think of when we think of a person."
These mammals recognize themselves in the mirror and have a sense of social identity. They not only know who they are, but they also have a sense of who, where and what their groups are. They interact and comprehend the health and feelings of other dolphins so fast it as if they are online with each other, Marino said.
Animal intelligence "is not a linear thing," said Duke University researcher Brian Hare. "Think of it like a toolbox," he said. "Some species have an amazing hammer. Some species have an amazing screwdriver."
“Elephants too are not far away, they empathize, they help each other, they work together. In a classic co-operation game, in which animals only get food if two animals pull opposite ends of a rope at the same time, elephants learned to do that much quicker than chimps”, said researcher Josh Plotnik, head of elephant research at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand.
“They do even better than monkeys at empathy and rescue,” added Plotnik.
Plotnik further emphasized on the fact that, "there is something in the environment, in the evolution of this species that is unique."