How Smart Are Penguins?

Penguins are extremely intelligent and smart among ocean creatures. They are so smart that you can train them or teach them how to be intimate with communities. They are self-aware, capable of using tools and communicative with each other. They can adapt to and thrive in their often-harsh Antarctic environment.

From their impressive memory and problem-solving skills to their complex social behaviors, penguins have captured the imagination of scientists and laypeople alike.

So just how smart are these beloved creatures? Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of penguin intelligence and explore the various ways that these birds have adapted to survive in one of the most challenging environments on earth.

Are Penguins the Smartest Animals? How Smart Are They?

However, it is worth noting that penguins are surprisingly intelligent creatures. They have demonstrated a range of cognitive abilities, despite their somewhat comical appearance.


One study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that African penguins could use tools to solve problems. In the study, the penguins were given a stick and a pebble. They were able to use the stick to reach and retrieve a reward that was out of reach. This ability to use tools is often considered a sign of advanced cognitive abilities and is relatively rare in the animal kingdom.

Penguins have also been found to have a remarkable ability to navigate and return to their breeding grounds over long distances. For navigation, they use the following cues:

  • The position of the sun
  • The stars, and
  • The Earth’s magnetic field.

This ability to navigate is essential for their survival in the harsh Antarctic environment. In addition to their problem-solving abilities and navigational skills, penguins also exhibit complex social behaviors.

For example, penguins have been observed engaging in the following features:

  • Elaborate courtship rituals
  • Maintaining long-term pair bonds and
  • Exhibiting altruistic behaviors such as caring for the young of other penguins in their colony.
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What Is the Most Intelligent Penguin?

Some species of penguins have been observed demonstrating remarkable cognitive abilities.

For example, a study published in Animal Cognition found that jackass penguins (also known as African penguins) are the smartest among other species.

The study revealed that jackass penguins were able to recognize and respond to human attentional states and communicative cues in various contexts. The researchers suggest that this ability may be related to the penguins’ social intelligence, as they live in large, complex social groups.


While these studies highlight the intelligence of African penguins, other penguin species may also exhibit impressive cognitive abilities that have yet to be studied in depth.

However, it’s important to approach the question of which penguin species is the “smartest” with caution. Intelligence is a complex and multifaceted trait that can manifest in different ways and be difficult to compare across species.

Are Penguins Smarter Than Humans?

No, penguins are not considered smarter than humans. While penguins are intelligent animals that exhibit many complex behaviors, they do not possess humans cognitive abilities or problem-solving skills.

To put this in perspective, humans have an average brain size of about 1,300 cubic centimeters, while penguins have a brain size of around 25 cubic centimeters.

Additionally, the human brain is known to have a much higher level of cognitive complexity than the penguin brain. We are capable of performing advanced problem-solving, language processing and creative thinking that penguins are not capable of.

How Smart Are Penguins Compared to Humans?

The average human IQ is around 100, while penguins do not have a standardized intelligence test to measure their cognitive abilities. It is important to recognize that different species have evolved unique sets of cognitive abilities that are well-suited to their ecological niche and survival strategies.

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While penguins may not be as smart as humans in certain respects, they have adopted a suite of cognitive and behavioral traits.

Are Penguins Smarter Than Dolphins?


Both penguins and dolphins are considered to be highly intelligent animals. They possess different cognitive abilities and survival strategies that cannot be easily compared in a quantitative manner.

Dolphins, for example, are known for their complex social organization, advanced communication skills, and problem-solving abilities. Their brain size relative to body size is among the largest of any animal. They have a highly developed neocortex, which is associated with advanced cognitive processing.

Penguins, on the other hand, exhibit intelligent behaviors such as complex communication, social organization, and tool use, which are well-suited to their aquatic environment. They have a smaller brain size relative to their body size than dolphins, but their cognitive abilities are specialized for their unique ecological niche.

Are Penguins Smarter Than Dogs?

While penguins are intelligent animals that exhibit complex behaviors, they have not been domesticated like dogs. They have not been bred over thousands of years for specific tasks or abilities.

Dogs have been selectively bred to exhibit certain cognitive and behavioral traits, such as the ability to understand human gestures, follow commands, and perform a range of tasks from herding to search and rescue.

Therefore, it is not appropriate to say that one species is inherently “smarter” than the other. Each species has its own unique strengths and abilities that are essential to survival and adaptation to its environment.


Can penguins talk like humans?

No, penguins cannot talk like humans. While some bird species are able to mimic human speech, penguins are not among them. Penguins communicate with each other through a variety of vocalizations, including honks, brays, and trumpets, but their vocalizations do not resemble human speech.

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Additionally, the anatomy of a penguin’s vocal tract is not designed for producing the sounds used in human speech, further limiting their ability to communicate in a way that resembles human language.

Do penguins feel love?

It’s possible that penguins experience emotions similar to what humans consider love. Penguins form strong bonds with their partners and exhibit behaviors such as grooming and vocalizing, which suggest a deep emotional connection. When penguins lose their partners, they have been observed exhibiting signs of grief and mourning.

What is the IQ of a penguin?

Scientists do not score the IQ of any animal on a traditional IQ scale.   So, there is no evidence of a specific IQ score for penguins. Considering the general intelligent facts and features, scientists rename the penguin a smart animal.


Do penguins have good memories?

Yes, penguins are known to have good memories. They are able to remember the location of their nesting sites. Also, they can recognize individual members of their colony. This helps them to navigate and find their way back to their nests after foraging for food.

Penguins have been observed to return to the same breeding colony year after year, suggesting that they remember the location and have a strong homing instinct.

Some studies have also suggested that penguins may have an excellent sense of smell, which could help them to navigate and remember their environment.


Penguins are highly adapted to life in harsh, icy environments and have a range of impressive abilities that have helped them survive and thrive. However, when it comes to intelligence, the scientific community has mixed opinions.

Some researchers suggest that penguins possess advanced cognitive skills, such as social cognition, problem-solving abilities, and long-term memory.

While penguins may not be the smartest creatures on the planet, they have demonstrated remarkable skills.

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