Whether or not humans are the smartest species on the planet really depends on which animals and which humans you base it on. After all, sometimes when people match wits with members of the animal kingdom, it doesn't turn out well for the humans.
#5. Mud Creek Grizzly vs. Scientists
What's the most badass job in science? Yeah, we guessed Mr. Wizard too, but that was before we knew there was such a thing as "grizzly bear trapper." Back in the late 90s, a team of these badass biologists were doing their thing in the Glacier National Park, managing to capture and release grizzly bears without getting their soft, academic bodies torn to shreds in the process. And then they ran into the Mud Creek Grizzly (MCG).
Like the other notable smart bear Yogi, the MCG found maiming to be pedestrian, and preferred the more subtle route of professional sabotage. Unlike Yogi, this grizzly was not content with being smarter than your average bear or park ranger. He wanted to outsmart some fucking scientists.
The researchers set up their bear catchi- um, bear research station, complete with traps, bait and cameras. Waiting until the researchers had completed their work and left the fully equipped we're-gonna-catch-us-some-bear site, MCG quietly slipped out of his hiding place and began his work.
First, he tore down the markers left to show the path to the site--we assume this is because he didn't wish to be disturbed while he wreaked his revenge on his tormentors. He then gathered an arsenal of stick and stone weaponry and used it to set off each of the food-laden traps, collecting the bait and thus earning himself a free dinner in the process.
Once his work was done, MCG stopped and scanned the crime scene. "Fuck," we like to think he said to himself. "Forgot about CCTV."
That's right; our grizzly hero, despite being from a part of the world where surveillance cameras are relatively uncommon, spotted and pulled down the camera and beat the shit out of it. He did this until the back of the unit sprang open, so he could remove and fuck up the film roll.
A bear? Holy shit, we know people who wouldn't have figured out how to do this.
And if you're thinking this is something he did in a random, mindless rage, well that's what the researchers probably thought, too. The team continued to set up their stations, but every single time, the bear returned and performed the systematic destruction of the entire site.
We like to think that somewhere, a team of grizzly bears in lab coats and glasses nodded and took notes.
#4. Crows vs. Japan
Wherever you find humans, you find food and where there is lots of both, you find crows. Their tendency to hang around populated areas has created a generations-long struggle in places like Kagoshima in Japan, where the man vs. crow battle has reached a fever pitch.
Deciding that stealing food from humans was no longer a challenge, the crows began helping themselves to stretches of fiber optic cables, bulking up their nest building material with pieces of wire and building their nests snuggled tightly amongst the cables supplying electricity to the city.
And they walk among us!
As you can probably imagine, this wreaks absolute havoc with the city's power grid. The crows have caused a spate of blackouts around Japan. On one occasion in 2007, a crow-manufactured blackout led to the high speed bullet train being shut down.
Something needed to be done, and the Kyushu Electric Power company decided to form an organization dedicated to outsmarting the pesky birds. Thus, the Crow Patrol was born. Its mission: to seek and destroy any crows' nests built in an electricity-laden location.
In the first three years of its existence, the Crow Patrol undertook twice-weekly rounds in an attempt to rid Kagoshima of its bird plague. They removed some 600 crow homes from the cables.
But the crows had wised up to the Patrol's mission, and deciding the territory was well worth defending, formed their own cunning plan. Operating on the "needle in a haystack" premise, the crows started spamming the area with dummy nests, to the point that the fake nests outnumbered the real ones.
It was an ingenious plan. First, it meant that while the Patrol went about their work of clearing the city, there was only a small chance that the nest they removed was going to have been lived in by a crow family. Second, if the Crow Busters did strike it lucky and destroy an actual home, there were a multitude of empty nests ready and available to move into. And finally, more nests meant more blackouts, leaving the crows added time to build new homes while the humans scrambled to get power back up.
"Oh no, please don't knock THAT one down. Nah, I'm fucking with you, you're way off."
So with it looking like the crows are there to stay, at least we can look on the positive side and say that Japanese crows are much smaller and less aggressive than the American cro... oh, no that's not right. They have a wing span of up to a meter, scary fucking beaks and sharp claws, and there have been a number of occasions where children have been attacked by Japanese crows for the candy held in their innocent little hands.
Holy shit. It might be time to just move out of the city and let them fucking have it.
#3. Karta the Orangutan vs. Adelaide Zoo
Karta is a 27-year-old orangutan, who spends her days swinging around her enclosure and entertaining visitors of Adelaide Zoo. Known for being an intelligent and rather difficult ape to manage, in May 2009 she actually managed to pull off a stunt so spectacular the whole zoo had to be shut down for the day.
Suddenly contemplating a problem she had not previously recognized, Karta realized that, holy shit, she was trapped in an enclosure in a zoo. She apparently decided that wouldn't do and that she wanted to travel the world. Or see the rest of the zoo. Either way, this ape wanted out.
Carefully watching the zoo staff operate, it soon became apparent to Karta that she wasn't going to be able to plan a surprise attack, knocking her keepers senseless and making a dash for the door. Neither were the keepers careless with leaving their keys lying around which would have allowed her to make a more subtle escape.
So she examined her enclosure. Electric fencing, and beyond that, high walls made from concrete and glass. First, the fence. She somehow figured out that she needed to stop the current flowing through it. Knowing full well the keepers weren't so stupid as to build the on/off switch within her reach, Karta came up with a cunning plan. The orangutan took a branch from her enclosure and twisted it into the hot-wires, causing them to short circuit.
With a quick shimmy, she was over the fence and into the no-man's land between the barrier and the outer walls of her enclosure.
Now for the problem of climbing the sheer walls, which were designed to stop her from doing exactly that. Once again thinking with a logical clarity that most of us can't manage on a good day, Karta started gathering vegetation from the boundary of her exhibit.
Anyone watching and wondering what she was up to soon caught on to the fact that this smart-ass ape was actually building a fucking step-ladder. Within no time, Karta was sitting on the wall which was meant to separate her from her adoring public.
Despite being confident that Karta wasn't an aggressive character and wasn't likely to attack members of the public, the zoo elected to err on the side of caution--understandable, considering this appeared to be some kind of evil orangutan genius--and closed the entire zoo on one of the busiest days of the year.
But Karta, apparently having glimpsed enough of the outside world to be unimpressed by it, nonchalantly climbed back over the wall, down the ladder and wandered back home to her enclosure.