The Cephalopod - squid, octopus, nautilus, and cuttlefish - are both adorable and incredibly intelligent. Within the first hour of their life, they start foraging and camoflauging.
Recent studies have shown that they also possess the capacity for exerting self control. This is commonly known as the Stanford marshmallow experiment, a study on delayed gratification.
This does bring into question animal intelligence and conciousness. Urbanization means people spend less time with other animals. We interact with a smaller variety of animals and thus can see much less varied expressions of intelligence from them.
Dr. David Scheel raised a Day Octopus in his home, documenting the experience. The Scheel family named her Heidi. Heidi was able to show recognition of faces, solved puzzles, and built relationships with members of the Scheel family. Of this, Scheel noted:
I am less intrigued by the differences and more interested in our similarities. What kind of a connection is possible with an animal that has three hearts and blue blood running through its veins? It’s been a privilege to have a relationship with such a strange and wonderful creature.
It could be that we aren’t smart enough to judge how smart animals are. The Octopus followed a different evolutionary path than we did. As such, the expressions of intelligence they have could just be poorly understood by us. Just because we excel in a larger number of areas on average doesn’t mean that some animals can do better than some people in specific tasks.
Back in the 1980s, Yosemite National Park was having a serious problem with bears: They would wander into campgrounds and break into the garbage bins.
This put both bears and people at risk. So the Park Service started installing armored garbage cans that were tricky to open — you had to swing a latch, align two bits of handle, that sort of thing.
But it turns out it’s actually quite tricky to get the design of these cans just right. Make it too complex and people can’t get them open to put away their garbage in the first place.
Said one park ranger, “There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists.”
Perhaps the entire marshmallow test is flawed. It purports that cuttlefish show intelligence normally seen in toddlers. Maybe cuttlefish are just able to show intelligence in one aspect that is similar to toddlers. Or maybe cuttlefish aren’t that smart - maybe babies are just stupid.