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Thread: What Insect is the Most intelligent?

  1. #1 What Insect is the Most intelligent? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Ok, I'll define intelligence as the capacity to learn. Is there one insect that stands out among the rest? Better yet, is there an insect that can be trained?

    I understand that certain insect colonies create social structures but I'm thinking a single bug. I had a mantis land on my leg as I was sitting the other day. He just sat there for awhile before slowly turning his head to where he seemed to look me right in the eye and study me for a minute or two. So I placed the fingers of my right hand in front of him and he slowly climbed aboard. I then moved moved the fingers of my other hand in front of him and he did the same. I kept repeating this and the mantis started to get the hang of it and pretty soon he was practically running across my fingers. Going nowhere but moving fast. Did something happen in that little head of his to at least give him confidence to run upon my fingers without fear or was he just trying to get the hell out of there? Don't know why he just didn't fly away.

    Anyway it doesn't sound like much but it did get me thinking about insect intelligence. Is there such a thing, can an insect learn?


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    since earthworms have been shown to have a capacity to learn in a rudimentary way, i suppose insects might as well, although none of them are particularly brainy
    however, i'm not aware of any studies on this topic


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Forum Professor Zwolver's Avatar
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    Insects won't learn a thing. But a hive just might learn. And evolutionarily a hive will improve (evolution) to better coop with the problems it's facing. I think bees, wasps, ants, and termites are among the smartest insects.

    Besides humans, ants are the only species to do agriculture and grow their own food.

    A wasp will easily sense danger, it also has the speed and cunning to surprise even a human.

    Bees can communicate quite effectively by dance, and secreting chemicals.

    Termites can build great nests, and defend it as well. Logistically these animals build their hives almost as effectively as humans do.
    The past teaches, the present watches and the future learns.

    Though religion is a concept that simply can not be ignored. The fact that a deity could stand idly by when one part of his creation slaughters another part, simply for his namesake, is a mystery i doubt theologist would dare touch.

    ~Zwolver...
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Can I suggest ants? They're my favorite insect and some have the ability to perform crude agriculture. I find that fascinating.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    on the other hand, termites invented air conditioning, millions of years before humans did
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    They also invented skyscrapers. Well, when you take scale into account.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Lots of people like to have large praying mantises as pets. I'm not sure how intelligent you'd say they are, but they are certainly trainable even if you'd never describe them as tame. How To Care for a Pet Praying Mantis

    I remember hearing of someone who took their pet mantis for a daily shopping trip on a lead. Unfortunately ended when someone killed the thing when it was tied up outside a shop.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I admit, I'm no expert on insects, but I find mantises absolutely fascinating. I don't know that I would want one for a pet, but they certainly do have a certain appeal. Something about them lends them and almost intelligent quality, be it real or imagined. When I do find one, I tend to spend a child-like amount of time just watching them go about their business.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Forum Professor Zwolver's Avatar
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    And above that, a praying mantis invented the principles of religion millions of years before humans did. Fascinating..
    zinjanthropos likes this.
    The past teaches, the present watches and the future learns.

    Though religion is a concept that simply can not be ignored. The fact that a deity could stand idly by when one part of his creation slaughters another part, simply for his namesake, is a mystery i doubt theologist would dare touch.

    ~Zwolver...
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  11. #10  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    And above that, a praying mantis invented the principles of religion millions of years before humans did. Fascinating..
    That would put the mantis just slightly above the amoeba on the intelligence scale, so there is some merit in what you're saying.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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