MNN Galleries

9 of the smartest animals on Earth

group of elephants

Photo: ZUMA Press

8 of 11


Elephants have a reputation for smarts. Elephants have been observed using tools such as sticks to pick at ticks or using palm fronds to swat at flies. As the Nature Institute points out, “many young elephants [in the wild] develop the naughty habit of plugging up the wooden bell they wear around their necks with good stodgy mud or clay so that the clappers cannot ring, in order to steal silently into a grove of cultivated bananas at night.” The elephants will then gorge on the banana while the nearby farmer is none the wiser.