General Question

ben's avatar

Is a squid more intelligent than a chicken?

Asked by ben (8006 points ) October 21st, 2009 from iPhone

While at a restaurant, Andrew and I fell on very different sides of numerous “who’s smarter” comparisons (in reference to animals that are eaten). In general, I think aquatic animals are generally much smarter than people think. Can anyone weigh in: squid v chicken, squid v cow, octopus v cow, tuna v chicken, tuna v cow (also octopus v crow)...

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50 Answers

simone54's avatar

I don’t think it’s close. Chickens are way more evolved then squid. Just look at them.

gussnarp's avatar

I’m pretty sure chicken rules on all those comparisons. I’m pretty sure fish and mollusks don’t have anywhere near the brain power of birds and mammals. And while mammal = smart seems intuitive, many birds are way smarter than cows, close to primates. Chickens are not as smart as crows and parrots, but I expect they beat cows, fish, and mollusks.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Had you said sea turtle v land mammals, I’d agree…but squid?

timtrueman's avatar

“The cephalopod class of mollusks, particularly the Coleoidea subclass (cuttlefish, squid and octopuses), are considered the most intelligent invertebrates and an important example of advanced cognitive evolution in animals.”

“The humboldt squid hunts schools of fish, showing extraordinary cooperation and communication in its hunting techniques. This is the first observation of such behaviour in invertebrates.”

“Caribbean Reef Squid can send one message via color patterns to a squid on their right, while they send another message to a squid on their left.”

Source

I would side with Ben if it were my money on the line…

gussnarp's avatar

@timtrueman On the other hand, crows can make and use complex tools, a pretty rare trait. Chickens likely don’t have that kind of intelligence, but if I had to generalize, my money is still on the birds.

timtrueman's avatar

OK, I’d admit to the crow being pretty intelligent, but not cows or chickens.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

1. Squid over chicken… that’s just based on the number of chickens consumed by humans versus the number of squids.
2. Squid over cow because… well… cows just don’t seem all that bright
3. Octopus over cow for the same reason
4. I actually have to go with chicken over tuna.. for reasons unspecified
5. I’ll give cow the benefit of the doubt over tuna
6. Octopus versus crow is a tough one. I’ll go with Octopus just based on the number of times I’ve seen crows wait till the last second before getting off the highway

Now then… when is the live draft? When do we get to see what wins?

gussnarp's avatar

Squids are really smart for mollusks, that doesn’t mean they’re smart. They communicate and hunt cooperatively. You don’t think cows and chickens communicate? But I’ll even give you squid, but tuna? No way. At best it goes squid, chicken, cow, tuna.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@gussnarp Crows can also speak like a parrot can. Doesn’t necessary suggest intelligence but I was surprised when I learned that.

eponymoushipster's avatar

is either of them a ninja?

gussnarp's avatar

@RedPowerLady Well, parrots are darn smart, regardless of what their ability of speak says about them.

Harp's avatar

Does this mean you guys were sitting there arguing about who’s dinner used to be smarter?

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Harp remember the mongols? you eat your enemy and you gain his strengths….

ragingloli's avatar

“They (octopi) have been reported to practice observational learning,[11] although the validity of these findings is widely contested on a number of grounds.[7][8] Octopuses have also been observed in what some have described as play: repeatedly releasing bottles or toys into a circular current in their aquariums and then catching them.[12] Octopuses often break out of their aquariums and sometimes into others in search of food. They have even boarded fishing boats and opened holds to eat crabs.[9]”

the octopus wins hands down

Dog's avatar

I raised a chicken and really think that they are pretty brainless- so I say squid.

Now cow vs octopus- octopus wins hands down.

We went to Sea World in San Diego and got to see the back rooms ( I have a naturalist friend who writes scientific papers for Sea World) One of the other workers told me this story:

Sea World had a tankful of very large and expensive saltwater tropical
fish. They were having problems with fish disappearing – and these were
pricey fish, so naturally they were worried. This pattern continued for a
while – every so often a fish would disappear without a trace from the
tank. No remains, no nothing.

They concluded that one of the aquarium
staff was stealing the fish after hours and selling them to pet stores or
maybe private buyers. But they had no way of figuring out who, and they
didn’t want to levy random accusations, so they decided to set up a hidden
camera to catch the thief in the act.

A few days later the culprit was revealed. Opposite that saltwater tank
was another saltwater tank, wherein lived an octopus. This fellow would
wait until it was late at night, crawl up the glass and out of his tank,
open up the latch to the cover, down across the room to the fish tank, open the top, crawl in, catch a fish, bring it back to his tank and eat it there.

Seriously- could a Cow pull that off?

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

I’m surprised so many people think chickens are smarter. Birds in general do have a substantially large brain- to body-size ratio (the largest brains are found in primates, elephants and cetaceans). However, chickens are specifically bred to be stupid. The same can be said for all domestic farm animals: To put it simply, it’s easy to deal with stupid animals who will generally do what you say.

Cephalopods like squid, on the other hand, have the advantage over chickens of not being altered by human domestication. The squid’s close relative, the octopus, has a highly developed brain (the most developed of all invertebrates). Like them, the squid’s brain is highly developed and unusually large for an invertebrate. Think about giant squid, which can battle a sperm whale and sometimes even kill one. That takes some smarts. Similarly, the Humboldt squid hunts cooperatively, communicating with each other the same way dolphins or other dogs would. I don’t think chickens could do anything like that if they tried.

Some sources for you:
A small site about cephalopod intelligence
Wikipedia entry on brain-to-body mass ratio
An article about the Humboldt squid
Wikipedia entry on the squid’s nervous system
Wikipedia entry on cephalopod intelligence

ratboy's avatar

Stones are smarter than chickens and cows.

Qingu's avatar

It’s not a fair comparison because squids only live a few years max.

I think it’s fair to say that cephalopod mollusks learn faster and exhibit more complex behavior than chickens do based on their lifespans.

fireinthepriory's avatar

While it’s hard to gauge intelligence, I’m also going to defend the invertebrates! Squid are undoubtably more intelligent than either chickens or cows, as are octopus, which are even smarter than squid. I would say that most fish (teleosts at least – so bony fish) aren’t particularly intelligent. So a tuna and a cow might be about equally intelligent, but both are smarter than a chicken. Chickens are known for their stupidity, I’d place them at goldfish level.

@ParaParaYukiko has some great sources linked. Even animal rights activists underestimate cephalopod intelligence. They’re not protected at all in terms of animal cruelty – basically you can do whatever you want to an octopus, even though they’re some of the most intelligent animals we know of. It’s really sad.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@fireinthepriory I am an animal lover…it sickens me what people think to do w/octopi.

fireinthepriory's avatar

@SpatzieLover Me, too. And I’m a biologist!

DarkScribe's avatar

Everything is smarter than a chicken – it doesn’t even have to be alive.

LostInParadise's avatar

I would go along with chickens being stupid, but I think that maybe cows are being underestimated. Would you say a horse is smarter than a cow? In what way? Similarly how would you test the intelligence of a squid versus a cow?

CMaz's avatar

Neither is smart. They both end up in my oven.

DarkScribe's avatar

@LostInParadise I would go along with chickens being stupid, but I think that maybe cows are being underestimated

Once again (wait for the chickens…)

wildpotato's avatar

I’ve known cows and chickens personally. Chickens are the stupidest creatures for their brain size on God’s green earth. They are so dumb you have to teach them how to drink water. Cows are pretty intelligent. Some farmers I know think they’re much smarter than horses, and I agree. Interesting side-note – turkeys are very intelligent, especially heritage turkeys.

I’ve heard that squid are pretty smart, especially giant squid. At an aquarium once, I met a keeper who told me that his octopi recognize him, and are generally very intelligent. I’ve heard that crows are the smartest of all non-mammals, and are actually smarter than many mammals. I know nothing about tuna, but I’d guess they’re smarter than chickens. So I guess I’d order this little chain of being like so: Crow, turkey, octopus, cow, horse, squid, tuna, chicken.

gussnarp's avatar

OK, OK, you’ve convinced me. My knowledge of crow intelligence and my personal experience with parrots led me to overestimate chicken intelligence. Squid win over chickens. But I’m not buying smart tuna yet.

DarkScribe's avatar

@gussnarp But I’m not buying smart tuna yet.

But they are completely composed of brain food – if we believe what our mothers told us.

gussnarp's avatar

@DarkScribe Yeah, but do you know how much mercury is in a tuna? Even if they were born smart they’d all be mad as hatters by now.

DarkScribe's avatar

@gussnarp Yeah, but do you know how much mercury is in a tuna?

It depends on where it was caught. I eat a lot of tuna and I am doing ok. Not sure if I would if I was in the North Pacific.

chyna's avatar

I have no opinion on this, but I do wish I had been at the restaurant following this conversation.

ragingloli's avatar

“Yeah, but do you know how much mercury is in a tuna?”
Keep the Mercury coming. It will turn my Flesh into a mimetic Polyalloy. Then I will be unstoppable.

Dog's avatar

Conversations like this are why I lurve Fluther.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Sea creatures are wild animals whereas cows and chickens are livestock. Only the strong survive in the wild versus livestock which are bred and there’s certain amounts of inbreeding involved with livestock. If let go in the wilderness, any livestock animal would be easy prey.

Zaku's avatar

I think humans have a distinct pro-land-animal bias. Squid are doubtless masters of subtleties even humans have no grasp of (so to speak…). Comparing intelligence of squid and chickens is worse than comparing apples to oranges by several orders of animal hierarchy, not to mention biome. Not to mention the “let’s put a chicken deep underwater where the sun don’t shine and see how smart it is at dealing with a Sperm Whale.” ;-) Meanwhile, there are many anecdotes attesting to the brilliance of octopi.

El_Cadejo's avatar

GA Timtrueman and ParaParaYukiko.

cephalopods are very intelligent creatures.

El_Cadejo's avatar

you cant say this isnt intelligence

andrew's avatar

I’d be willing to concede octopus v chicken, and perhaps even octopus v cow. (To be fair, octopus wasn’t even on the ‘table’—I very much agree with the fact that octopi are very intelligent)

I think @ParaParaYukiko remark about domesticity is very, very compelling though.

Even so, all the wiki intelligence articles disclaim “squid exhibit relatively high intelligence among invertebrates”.

Let’s make this interesting, then: squid v. wild turkey. Squid v. pheasant.

I think there’s also a real slant toward predators as viewed as ‘more intelligent’ as well.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I think all animals are more intelligent than humans give them credit for

@andrew Did the squid drink wild turkey? ;D

gussnarp's avatar

Dogs are domesticated. Domestication != dumb.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@andrew wild turkey is always the smart way to go….especially with shots.~

andrew's avatar

Also, while there’s been a lot of talk about the Humboldt Squid, I think that’s a bit of a ‘red herring’. Really, we should be talking about the squid we eat—namely, a squid like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slender_Inshore_Squid.

Otherwise we might as well be comparing a squid to an eagle.

andrew's avatar

@wildpotato Brilliant ranking. I’d agree with you on that.

ben's avatar

@wildpotato Yeah, that’s a pretty compelling list. I think that may have settled it (at least for me and @andrew).

Ultimately, what I was getting at was I think there’s a bias towards assuming things more similar and familiar to humans are smarter. Clearly there’s no absolute ranking of intelligence, either, and it’s hard to know what it actually means to be “smarter”—ants are clearly not “smart” and yet they are incredibly successful as a species. What we’re all talking about is individual consciousness, which is hard to infer.

Also, it seems to be understood that it’s somehow “worse” to eat/kill something that has more of this individual consciousness, and I think is interesting that we all take that for granted (I certainly do).

Anyway, thanks everyone for the great points.

andrew's avatar

But saying a squid is smarter than a cow is just silly.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Wait – an african chicken or a european chicken? laden or unladen?

fireinthepriory's avatar

@andrew Actually… I’d be inclined to think a squid is smarter than a cow. Cows are incredibly unintelligent. Any intelligence has been bred out of them in favor of juicy thighs and other delicious attributes. They’re grazers! They don’t need to do anything. I’d have to do some behavioral work on squid before I could tell you for sure. I tend to think of intelligence as being measured by complexity of behavior and problem solving ability, and I think a cow wouldn’t even understand “problem solving,” whereas a squid, even a boring eatable squid, probably would be able to learn a maze or something like that.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Now if only this video were in english
i hate that some parts are but actually dubbed over with japanese :P

who needs intelligence when your this bad ass :P

zendielacson's avatar

chicken are more intelligent than squid, because here in our country have some fighting cocks…hahaha kukurukukuk

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