About the Author

Kyle Gordon


Kyle was born and raised in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. His childhood was spent scurrying barefooted along the banks of various rivers and dams, fishing rod ever-in-hand, enjoying the beauty and freedom of outdoors. Kyle obtained a degree in construction from UCT ...

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on How Smart Are Animals, Really?

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Super article, with clearly hours of research. Loved the Aristotle drawing

Thanks Ian, I’m glad you enjoyed!

Hi James, I’m surprised you wrote fish are careless when compared to other animals if you read Frans de Waal book, which I read several years ago. The case of the moray eel and -but here we’re not talking of fish- the octopus are well described. Bees and bumblebees are proved to be intelligent beyond imagination, even if according to me those tests were humanly silly (animals don’t think like us and they don’t perceive the environment like we do). I think that whales and sperm-whales are perhaps even more intelligent than us,but chose to live apart, even coming to our help if we are in need. And that’s what amazes me the most. Anyway , well written and documented ( among others also devil fishes can recognise themselves in the mirror. A method I doubt of, because if you put a mole rat in front of a mirror it will see nothing…)

Hi Francesca, that was just a quote from Einstein about comparing different intellects but we are definitely on the same page when it comes to the different intelligences of various species! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog and really great that you have already read the book, it was fascinating!

Interesting blog, Kyle, and great photos.
As you said, “the idea is not to prove that animals are as intelligent as humans, but rather that they are intelligent in different ways” and who can judge that our Intelligence is better than the one of animals?
At least they do not destroy the world, as the humans do, and that’s certainly a lot better than our way of doing things. Which proves that humans are not that intelligent after all.

Hi Christa. Exactly the point, our supposed “higher intelligence” hasn’t exactly worked out up to now. And hopefully we will fall back in sync with nature soon.

Fascinating discussion! A nice change of subject and intellectually interesting!!! Thank you for researching this!

Thanks Bob and Lucy, it was an interesting thought experiment but the bones of the argument are there!! 5 more months till you come back home!!

Great blog Kyle. Humans and animals have more in common on certain levels than we generally think about. Thanks for the information you provided.

Hi William, thanks for reading. We definitely have more in common than we think!

Thank you for a very interesting article! Unfortunatly a lot of humans have put themselve above the animals. Without ecological balance, we are nothing. We have a lot to learn from animals! They have different super powers than we do. I think being intelligent means that you care about the earth, don’t take more than you need and live with nature. The animals only take what they need, leaving room for those who come after them. Humans cannot directly say that… Clearly there are some species of animals that are smarter than others and some individuals that are smarter than other individuals, just like in humans.
To understand their world we need knowledge. We have researched and learned a lot about them but we still have a lot to learn and understand.
We have to be humble enough to realize that our wonderful animals around us have amazing abilities. It is not who is the best, but that we all have different conditions and abilities.
Thank you for taking up this interesting topic!

Hi Anne, I agree completely. These animals have superpowers and intelligences so far removed from our own as to be almost alien, and because of that we feel we are superior. It will all balance out at some point, I believe we are slowly coming around the idea. Hopefully will do so before it is too late for us as a species! Thanks for reading

Great post Kyle! And I might add plants here as well. I was visiting a redwood tree in Mendocino (Northern California) last week that is understood to be somewhere between 600-800 years old. Now this tree has no way to move or elude anything or anyone that might wish it harm, including humans (for logging purposes). And yet, it has survived to an age that we humans could only aspire to… 6-8 fold!! What is the intelligence that this tree has that has allowed it to survive and thrive for this long. It’s most certainly sentient, and yet, like many animals, we humans typically consider them “unintelligent” without thinking and considering just a little bit deeper. Again, love your post!!

Hi Paul, that is incredible! I really want to make a trip to the states and see, amongst many other things, those giant redwoods. I like the idea of plant intelligence but, to be honest, I haven’t done much research on the topic. I certainly will do so! Thanks for reading

Yes Kyle, this is a fascinating framing of plant survival. What made me think of it was your excellent framing of animal intelligence. As self-referential beings (for better and for worse!), we humans relate to things through our own lenses, and your post really shows the limitations of our perspective when we don’t consider environmental “fit”!

Fantastic blog Kyle and I am sure it took lots of research.

Thank you Valmai!

“humans need to start wrapping our heads around the notion that sentience is not a purely human quality. With that, we will begin to respect and cherish those animals that make up the world around us and resume a more harmonious relationship with the world around us”…YES!!!

Thanks Anita, we’ll get there one day!

You clearly put a lot of thought and research into this article Kyle, and it will surely generate many conversations around the fire as well as comments from the Londolozi blog readers. Humans and animals alike possess degrees of intelligence, yet they are different and cannot be compared as mammals to mammals, etc. Looking forward to reading other’s comments…

Thank you very much Denise, I’m glad you enjoyed it. And that is the exact point, you cannot use the same scale of intelligence across-the-board.

Absolutely agree with you Kyle. However human ego gets in the way of us considering that alternate levels of intelligence are not inferior to our own sadly. When really we have absolutely no idea the entirety of what other beings are capable of.

Exactly Kara! But slowly the mindsets are shifting and (hopefully) one day we may see change in this thinking.

Well done, Kyle, Ron from Gweru

Kyle, What an incredible education you gave us in this blog! Clearly there are different levels of intelligence and you explained it in a way that answers some questions and creates new ones for us!

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