What Animal Has the Biggest Brain


When it comes to brainpower in the animal kingdom, size matters! But hold on, it’s not as simple as you might think. This isn’t just about finding the animal with the biggest head. Get ready to discover some surprising contenders and explore the fascinating world of animal intelligence!

What is a Brain?

The brain is the mastermind behind everything that makes us tick. This complex organ is found in most animals, not just vertebrates! It acts as the central control unit, overseeing all our thoughts, feelings, memories, and even basic functions like hunger and body temperature.

Brain size is often linked to intelligence, and it’s typically measured by weight or skull volume. However, it’s important to remember that brain size isn’t the only factor in how smart we are.

Largest Brain Animal

While brain size is essential, it’s not just about having the biggest one. Let’s explore some mammals known for their impressive brains, both in absolute size and relative to their body size.

1. Sperm Whale

Sperm whales, the ocean’s heavyweight champions among cetaceans, boast the largest brain of any mammal. Their massive heads take up a quarter to a third of their entire body length! An adult sperm whale’s brain is no lightweight either, averaging 18 pounds and reaching up to 500 cubic inches – that’s over six times the size of a human brain!

However, size isn’t everything. Despite its impressive absolute weight, the sperm whale’s brain is relatively small compared to its overall body mass. In fact, it only makes up about 0.02% of its total weight.

Why Such a Big Brain?

So, why does the sperm whale need such a massive brain? Here are a few possibilities:

  • Complex Social Lives:Sperm whales are highly social creatures, living in groups of females and young led by a dominant male. Their brains might be wired for complex communication, cooperation, and remembering social relationships within their pods.
  • Echolocation Expertise:As mentioned earlier, echolocation is a sophisticated skill. The sperm whale’s brain likely needs a lot of processing power to interpret the echoes bouncing back from their clicks and whistles, creating a detailed picture of their underwater world.
  • Deep Dives, Big Decisions:Sperm whales can dive incredibly deep, reaching depths of over 2 kilometers (over a mile!). Their brains might be adapted to handle the pressure changes and make quick decisions in these challenging environments.

2. Elephant

Elephants hold the title for the largest brain among land mammals! An adult male elephant’s brain can weigh a hefty 12 pounds. However, similar to sperm whales, brain size isn’t everything for elephants. Relative to their enormous bodies, an elephant’s brain is quite small. It only makes up about 0.1% of their total weight. Interestingly, their brain also has a unique location – positioned at the back of their head instead of the front.

Forget textbooks – my brother’s getting his Ph.D. in elephant intelligence firsthand! During fieldwork, he’s been observing these giants in their natural habitat. Witnessing their incredible feats of memory, complex social interactions, and ingenious problem-solving skills is providing him with a fascinating window into the power of the elephant’s massive brain.

3. Dolphin

Dolphins are renowned for their intelligence, and their brains reflect this. While their brains weigh about the same as a human brain at 3.5 pounds, it’s all relative. Compared to their body size, a dolphin’s brain is even more impressive.  This is because their brain-to-body-mass ratio, at 1.19 percent, is slightly higher than a human’s.

Another sign of dolphin intelligence is the size of their neocortex. This is the part of the brain associated with higher functions like thinking and problem-solving. Just like humans, dolphins have a well-developed neocortex, suggesting complex cognitive abilities.

4. Primates

When discussing animal intelligence, it’s hard to ignore the remarkable capabilities of primates. Humans, of course, possess the largest brains relative to body size. However, my brother’s research has highlighted that certain primate species, such as gorillas and orangutans, also possess comparatively large brains. These brain sizes are closely associated with their advanced cognitive abilities. Primates exhibit complex social behaviors, employ tools, and demonstrate problem-solving skills.

5. Crows

Don’t underestimate these clever birds! Crows have been shown to use tools, solve puzzles, and even recognize individual human faces. Their brains are surprisingly complex for their size.


In the quest to identify the animal with the largest brain, elephants, cetaceans, and certain primate species emerge as the frontrunners. These creatures captivate us with their intricate social structures, advanced communication systems, and remarkable cognitive abilities. Through my brother’s extensive research and personal experiences, we have gained a profound appreciation for the wonders of animal intelligence. The size of their brains is just one aspect of their extraordinary capabilities. The animal kingdom continues to mesmerize us with its rich diversity and the fascinating complexities of its inhabitants’ minds.


Q: What animal has the biggest brain?

A: The sperm whale takes the crown with a brain weighing around 17 pounds, five times the size of a human brain!

Q: Why is the sperm whale’s brain so big?

A: There are a few theories! Their complex social lives, echolocation skills, and deep-diving habits might all play a role.

Q: Does having a bigger brain mean an animal is smarter?

A: Not necessarily. Brain size relative to body size and brain structure are also important factors.

Q: Are there other brainy animals?

A: You bet! Elephants, dolphins, and even crows are known for their impressive intelligence and brainpower for their size.

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