If I asked you to name the animal that was most human-like, you’d probably say chimpanzee, right? It’s a good answer: we are close to them on the evolutionary tree, and our genomes are about 95% identical.
But if you limited the comparison to ‘high-level’ behaviors of humans—like feeling empathy, mourning the dead, or cooperating with others—then you’d find a lot of non-primates that are surprisingly similar to us. For example, like ours, thebrains of humpback whales contain spindle cells, neurons that are thought to be involved in advanced thinking, self-awareness and communication. Dolphins can categorize objects, learn an artificial language, and recognize themselves in a mirror, according to some studies .
Then, of course, there’s the wise old elephant. Loads of studies attest to the elephant’s keen mental abilities, but I want to point out a new one that’s particularly cool. Scientists have demonstrated that two Asian elephants will patiently work together to get a sweet snack—even without any previous training. The study was published earlier this month in the