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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Assuming... If, primates had never existed, and therefor humans had never evolved from them, then what animal species would otherwise have been the most likely to evolve the level of intelligence that we currently claim to possess?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30877points) July 9th, 2010

I vote for Raccoons. Great hand formations, excellent eye placement, and they like to screw around.

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35 Answers

Coloma's avatar


Maybe Dolphins or Elephants….emotionally intelligent, hardy, socially evolved. ???

ipso's avatar

Humans are not the ultimate possible evolutionary animal, and our absence would not necessitate a large funnel in design space for redevelopment toward our likeness. Quite the contrary.

My vote is for dolphins to develop sophisticated communications and a larger brain to support social interactions (just as ours did).

Coloma's avatar

What about rats?

They are highly intelligent, vying for placement amongst swine and others.

Extremely adaptive, resourceful, more hardiness factors.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If not for the sensory limitations of an aquatic live without opposable digits, dolphins and killer whales (they are dolphins too), would have evolved the most superior intelligence.

Of the other species, wolves with their complex social structure might have evolved greater intelligence.

This is all a difficult what-if problem.

Coloma's avatar

Pigs wouldn’t ‘fly’..haha

Intelligent but disease prone, poor mobility, low defenses….

Coloma's avatar

Well…is that all we’ve got?

I have always wanted to create a strain of giant geese. lol

The size of Ostriches…mega goose…look out!

Buttonstc's avatar

African Gray Parrots.

Their intelligence level is pretty amazing and their sociability is pretty impressive too.

Coloma's avatar


Oooh…yes! Sharp, sharp, sharp girl! :-)

Coloma's avatar

I once had a Miltary Macaw..he was brilliant!

ragingloli's avatar

Dolphins, Octopodes, Cats.

Berserker's avatar

I guess dolphins, or maybe pigs, if we go for intelligence, but now that you mention it, raccoons sound pretty damn plausible too.

Haleth's avatar

Dolphins. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

NaturallyMe's avatar

Dolphings of cats.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It would need a large brain case, so small animals are out. It would need agility to out-compete the other animals. It would need the ability to change its environment when the environment changes, so sea creatures are out. It would use tactics or weapons and would have a way to communicate with others of the same species. That rules out a lot.
I vote: lion or tiger.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Oops, i meant dolphings OR cats.

@worriedguy – well, there are some sea creatures that have evolved from the sea to land, right? So the dolphin could have done the same.

Coloma's avatar


But brain size has nothing to do with intelligence…back to the rats. lol

Your_Majesty's avatar

Some of the brightest kind of birds. Actually I want to choose dolphin but they evolved in to brighter creature after they choose to permanently live at sea. The second brightest animal after human and chimp is crow not dolphin(still in debate but many believe it’s crow).

Jabe73's avatar

We would be reptilians (which means the human race would be more violent than we are now).

dynamicduo's avatar

Provided they had more time to evolve, definitely my money is on dolphins. But they really need the time to evolve digits, cause those are key to further intelligence. Seeing their underwater world would be awesome!

SmashTheState's avatar

The octopus, no question. I recall reading an article by a marine biologist who argued that octopodes would have beaten humanity to establishing a civilization except for the unhappy circumstance that fire is considerably more difficult to master underwater. Octopodes are highly intelligent, capable of abstract reasoning (they recognize themselves in a mirror, for example, and are able to quickly discern how to open screw-top lids to get at food), and have all the recognized traits of high intelligence, such as a capacity for play and the ability to communicate (biologists have known for some time that octopodes, generally thought to be solitary, often gather in caves and rapidly flash patterns of colour through their skin in what is believed to be complex communication). Octopodes are notorious tool users (often being observed using sharp stones to smash open crustacean shells, for example), and their eight tentacles are more useful than opposable thumbs.

The only two things standing in the way of octopus civilization are the difficulty with fire and their short lifespans. Evolution will probably one day find a way around both, should they manage to survive humanity. I am horrified at the use of octopodes as food, particularly since they are killed in such a gruesome and agonizing way. Because octopodes can survive for extended periods out of water, octopus fishers will shove their hand down the octopus’ throat and rip the creature inside out to kill it. Given the intelligent, playful, gently curious nature of the octopus, this seems like a terribly cruel thing to do. I certainly would never eat one.

Jabe73's avatar

@SmashTheState Ha Ha, I guess you wouldn’t be hearing too many more people making the claim “I only have 2 arms” when they can’t do something fast enough.

jazmina88's avatar

Dolphins, the big cats, dogs

ChocolateReigns's avatar

—At the risk of being modded, I thought I’d mention that I thought the title said “Assuming… If, pirates had never existed…” I was very confused.

Coloma's avatar



Hmmm..if pirates had never existed…bummer, no cool eye patches and peg legs and parrots, not to mention no fun piratey words like blimey and matey… haha

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m really surprised that no one has mentioned insects. Perhaps not for intelligence, but are they not the crown kings of adaptation?

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I thought of cockroaches of course, but, I thought we were primarily discussing mammals.

Insects would be the predominant survivors of some catastrophic scene most likely.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes survivors indeed, but I’m not sure how much they’ve actually evolved. I believe, (not sure), but I believe that insects are considered pretty much the same as they were millions of years ago, albeit much smaller. It’s hard to imagine 4’ dragon fly’s, and 3’ cockroaches, and I’m probably wrong on the sizes, but there used to be some really big bugs in this world.

Wonder why they evolved smaller?

ragingloli's avatar

Less oxygen in the air.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Didn’t know that. Interesting.

Coloma's avatar


A bit off topic maybe..but true story.

In my college days in San Diego years ago I captured a huge 3 inch cockroach in my apartment.

Dropped it in a glass and drwoned it in about an inch of bug killer.

After 30 minutes or so when it ‘appeared’ dead I fshed it out and put it n a matchbox to show my room mate.

7–8 hours later when I opened the matchbox it leapt out out me! Eeeeeeee lol

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Ouch! Those buggers are real creepy die hards.

ipso's avatar

I believe the reason insects are small is due to limitations to get oxygen distributed throughout their body, based on their exoskeleton design. They don’t have a circulatory system or lungs. I think my 6th grade teacher told me that.

It is very possible that the “most intelligent” development of a species may still be (humans or no humans), end up being a Borg-like shared understanding between individual species; a “hive mind”. Some might argue humans are destined to that as well, if not already.

This was shown recently (to mixed reviews) in the movie Avatar.

Jabe73's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies If we came from insects our bodies could withstand much more physically. They did experiments where scientists sucked all the air out of a jar (a complete vacuum) with some beetles inside and than bursted the jar. The beetles still survived. Any other animal would have been killed instantly. We wouldn’t be able to handle the cold so great however. The population on this planet would be much higher as well.

Coloma's avatar

Frogs blow me away with their body structure and ability to leap great distances.

I am over run with the Pacific tree frogs at my house right now in their summer explosions.

Last night I was sitting on my deck when some of them began to emerge from the reeds in a large ceramic water garden I have on my deck.

One little guy about an inch long climbs to the edge of the bowl, poses hmself and leaps about 5 feet across the deck into a large potted bamboo…SPLAT! lol

They will throw themselves off the deck down to the patio, falling 6 feet or more and landing perfectly unharmed.

It would be like us hurling ourselves off an 8 story building. Frogs are so cool!

mattbrowne's avatar

Wait another million years for dolphins to crawl out of the water.

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