A dolphin in the water.

Inside Animal Minds: Who's The Smartest?

What would it be like to go inside the mind of an animal? We have all gazed into a creature's eyes and wondered: what is it thinking about? What does it really know? Now, the revolutionary science of animal cognition is revealing hard evidence about how animals understand the world around them, uncovering their remarkable problem-solving abilities and exploring the complexity of their powers of communication and even their emotions. In this mini-series, NOVA explores these breakthroughs through three iconic creatures: dogs, birds and dolphins. We'll travel into the spectacularly nuanced noses of dogs and wolves, and ask whether their reliance on different senses has shaped their evolution. We'll see through the eyes of a starling in flight and test the tool-using skills of the smartest of birds, the crow. We'll listen in as scientists track dolphins in the Caribbean and elephants on the African savannah, trying to unlock the secrets of animal communication.

As we discover how researchers are pushing the animal mind to its limits, we'll uncover surprising similarities to -- and differences from -- the human mind. What makes an animal smart? Many scientists believe the secret lies in relationships. Throughout the animal kingdom, some of the cleverest creatures - including humans - seem to be those who live in complex social groups, like dolphins, elephants and apes. Could the skills required to keep track of friend and foe make animals smarter? To find out, NOVA goes inside the social lives of some of the smartest animals on the planet.

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Cat Tales

They may have stolen many hearts-and the internet-but cats can be perplexing pets. As much cuddly and playful as they are aloof and uncaring, they've often raised the question: Did humans ever really domesticate felines? And what more can science tell us about a relationship that predates history?

  • 2020-02-24T06:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

Mysteries of Sleep

From fruit flies to whales, virtually every animal sleeps. But why? Why do we need to spend nearly a third of our lives in such a vulnerable, defenseless state? Scientists are peering more deeply into the sleeping brain than ever before, discovering just how powerful sleep can be, playing a role in everything from memory retention and emotional regulation to removing waste from our brains. So why are we getting so little of it?

  • 2020-03-01T14:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-03-01T17:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

Secrets of the Forbidden City

Discover the ingenious engineering of Beijing's Forbidden City, the power center of imperial China for nearly 500 years. Discover how the design of this vast complex of palaces and temples enabled it to survive centuries of earthquake shocks.

  • 2020-03-08T15:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-03-08T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Chinese Chariot Revealed

For over 1000 years, chariots thundered across China's battlefields-dominating warfare longer than anywhere else on earth. Now, a series of amazing archaeological findings enable a team of experts to reconstruct and test China's first super-weapon.

  • 2020-03-15T15:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-03-15T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-03-16T07:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Japan's Killer Quake

In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a rising death toll in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and the specter of nuclear reactor meltdowns. The facts and figures are astonishing. The March 11th earthquake was the world's fourth largest earthquake since record keeping began in 1900 and the worst ever to shake Japan.

  • 2020-03-22T15:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-03-22T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-03-23T07:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD