The Smartest Animals on the Planet


 Click on the cover above to go to this book at

Sarah Boyson's 'The Smartest Animals on the Planet' is a fascinating account of animal intelligence, geared to literate non-scientists. It is easy to find your way around the book, which is written clearly, and has a lot of photos, some very beautiful, as well as other illustrations to explain the text. If you have already read widely in this field, 'The Smartest Animals on the Planet' probably won't tell you a lot you don't already know, but if you are wondering what cognitive ethology is all about, this is probably the best introduction, both informative and enjoyable to read.

The book covers how animals may use tools, how they communicate, including use of language, ways that animals learn, such as imitation and social learning within a group, the implications of some animals being able to recognise themselves in mirrors, the abilities of animals to handle numbers, emotion and intelligence, and co-operation and altruism.

Sally Boysen herself has worked on chimpanzee cognition, though the book covers a wide range of animals, including elephants, whales, otters, rats, horses, crows, woodpeckers,  salamanders, and insects like honeybees. Very highly recommended as an enjoyable introduction to understanding animal intelligence.