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10 Animals with the Worst Memory in the World: How They Cope with Their Forgetfulness

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Are you curious about which animals with the worst memory in the world? Look no further than our top ten list. While some animals have specialized memories that can store specific knowledge for a long time, others struggle to retain even the most basic information. 

It’s fascinating to explore how the memory of an animal varies by species, but the ones on our list truly stand out for their lack of short-term memory. From fish to birds to mammals, these animals certainly live in the moment as they quickly forget what happened just moments ago. Keep reading to discover which creatures made the cut and why their memory is so forgettable.

#1. Chimpanzee

Animals with the Worst memory

Chimpanzees, massive apes native to central and western Africa, share about 98.7% of their DNA with humans and baboons, making them our closest kin. It’s believed that our common ancestor with chimpanzees dates back as far as seven to thirteen million years ago.

It may come as a surprise to many that chimpanzees are included in the list of creatures with poor memory since we often consider them to be highly intelligent beings, possibly among the smartest on Earth.

They exhibit impressive cognitive abilities and can successfully handle a wide array of complex tasks and challenges. The part of their brain responsible for learning and development continually grows, which explains their remarkable intelligence—a trait quite similar to humans.

Chimpanzees, sharing 98% of our chromosomes, are indeed our closest living relatives. However, despite their large brains, they have relatively weak short-term memory capabilities.

According to National Geographic, chimpanzees have been observed to forget an experience within just 20 seconds. This finding surprised biologists, considering their close relation to humans.

It’s theorized that humans developed a more advanced memory capacity long after we diverged from our evolutionary ancestors.

It’s essential to differentiate between short-term and long-term memory. For chimpanzees, if information isn’t crucial for their immediate needs, such as finding food or avoiding danger, it gets forgotten after a mere 20 seconds. This limited short-term memory capacity places chimpanzees on the list of the top 10 animals with the worst memory in the world.

#2. Bees

Bees are fascinating creatures, not just for their important pollination work, but also for their honey production. The western honey bee, in particular, is well-known for its sweet and delicious honey. But did you know that bees actually belong to seven different taxonomic families, with over 16,000 species worldwide? 

They are also a part of the monophyletic lineage called Apidae, residing in the clade Anthophila. Though bees depend mostly on nectar and pollen for energy, pollen also serves as the primary source of protein and nutrients for their larvae. 

Unfortunately, bee wolves and dragonflies are insect predators that look to make honeybees their prey. Despite their unique abilities, bees have weak short-term memory, ranking among the top 10 animals with the worst memory in the world in a comparable study.

#3. Baboons 

How Strong Are Baboons

Baboons are fascinating creatures that live on the ground and enjoy a varied diet, including fruit, roots, grubs, and insects. They often live in groups and can have as many as five to 200 members, including females and juveniles, along with a few transient males. While male baboons leave their birth group around puberty, females remain with their birth group throughout their lives. 

Despite having a low memory capacity, baboons are highly intelligent primates who value their family relationships. They can understand words and language logically, as biologists have discovered. Baboons typically have a lifespan of between 20 and 30 years, but some can even live up to 40 years.

#4. Hamster

The familiar pet was a rare animal until biologist Israel Aharoni set out to find it.

Hamsters are becoming a popular pet choice for many animal lovers, and it’s not hard to see why. These little furry creatures have some unique behaviors that make them endearing to their owners. However, what makes hamsters stand out is their forgetfulness. 

They tend to lose track of what they are doing in the middle of things, and this can be both hilarious and frustrating for their owners. Another interesting quirk about hamsters is their food-hoarding behavior. They transport food to their underground lairs in their huge cheek pouches, making their heads appear larger than usual. 

Despite their forgetfulness, these pets are known to shed their summer weight in preparation for winter, which has been linked to more exercise. It’s mind-boggling to think that a hamster’s short-term memory is just three seconds, earning them a place in the top 10 animals with the worst memory in the world.  

#5. Seal

seal-eating

Seals, with their amphibious way of life, have adapted themselves to spend most of their time in the water. They come to land for specific purposes like shedding their skin, breeding, giving birth, resting, regulating their body temperature, and escaping predators. It is remarkable how some species undertake long-distance migrations in response to extreme environmental conditions, including changes in ice cover. 

Despite their primarily aquatic life, seals have a special adaptation to keep themselves warm in frigid waters – blubber. Moreover, their water-resistant fur coat enables them to glide through waves seamlessly. Sitting atop their face, the seal’s hair helps them to spot prey in dark and murky waters. These intelligent creatures can understand words, human laughter, commands and signs, yet their memory is poor. On average, seals live a healthy 25-30 years, with females having a longer lifespan than their male counterparts.  

#6. Giraffe

Can You Have a Pet Giraffe

The giraffe is an absolutely remarkable animal that stands out among its kind. As the tallest mammal in the world, the giraffe’s extraordinary features always captivate whoever is lucky enough to come across them. These magnificent creatures have towering legs and impressively long necks, which are the perfect combination for reaching and nibbling on tree leaves that are usually out of reach. 

What’s even more fascinating is that they can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour over short distances, which is quite impressive considering their size. While they may look like intelligent beings, their short-term memory span lasts only a few seconds, making it difficult for them to remember what they’ve done. Nevertheless, these animals are a sight to behold as they travel through wide-open grasslands in small groups of six or seven.

#7. Sloth

Sloths may be known for their slow and lazy movements, but that’s precisely what allows them to survive in the wild. These adorable creatures feed on low-energy leaves and remain hidden from predators through their sluggishness. While they may not be able to walk, sloths can surprisingly swim. However, don’t expect them to remember much. 

Sloths have terrible visual recall and short-term memory, leading to some comical mishaps, as we’ve seen with Sid the Sloth in Ice Age. Unfortunately, forgetfulness is one of their biggest challenges, and they’re even ranked among the top 10 animals with the worst memory in the world. Despite these shortcomings, sloths remain fascinating creatures that have adapted to their environment in unique ways.

#8. Turkey 

Turkeys may not be known for their intelligence, but their history on this continent is fascinating. With a lineage dating back over 20 million years in North America, these birds have roamed wild for millennia. Newborn turkeys are also dependent on their mother for protection and guidance. Even though they prefer to roost in trees, mothers keep their young grounded to protect them from predators until they are strong enough to fend for themselves. 

Interestingly, wild turkeys may be fast runners, but they can only fly briefly before crashing back to the ground. However, the domesticated turkeys that we eat today cannot fly at all, due to their incredibly large size, which is the result of centuries of breeding.  

#9. Ostrich

The ostrich is a large, flightless bird exclusively found in the open country of Africa. Male ostriches are mainly black with white plumes on their wings and tails, while females are predominantly brown. They have reddish and bluish areas on their heads and most of their necks, and their legs, particularly the muscular thighs, are bare.

The ostrich has a small head with a short and broad bill, and its large brown eyes are framed by thick black lashes.

Interestingly, the ostrich’s macho behavior can be attributed to their short-term memory, which lasts only around 10 seconds. Due to this limitation, they may engage in actions without fully understanding why they are doing so.

Their widely-set eyes and peculiar-looking heads have led to the common belief that these animals lack intelligence.

#10. Snakes 

snake

It’s common to think that pets, even snakes, remember their owners or at a minimum, recognize their presence. However, research shows that most snakes have very poor or no memory at all. This is not to say that they lack intelligence, as they can learn to distinguish between predator and prey, but rather that their brains aren’t wired to make emotional connections to events they encounter. 

Snakes can remember animals or items they’ve encountered through scent, but these memories lack emotional association. It’s also unlikely that they recognize humans as being something other than an animal that hasn’t impacted them and is too large to be prey. So while you may love your pet snake, it’s best to appreciate their unique qualities and not expect them to bond with you in the same way that a dog or cat might.

FAQs

What animal has the weakest memory?

Studies show that the animal with the weakest memory is the fruit fly. These tiny insects may be small, but their brains are even smaller, with only 100,000 neurons compared to the 100 billion of humans. 

What animals have really bad memory?

While many animals have impressive cognitive abilities, some just can’t seem to remember things for very long. Take goldfish, for example. These beloved pets are infamous for their forgetfulness, as they have been known to forget their owners and even their own existence! Another animal with a reputation for being forgetful is the humble honeybee.

Which animal has the strongest memory?

Studies have shown that elephants can remember individual humans for decades, as well as other elephants they have encountered in the past. They also have the ability to recall specific locations and routes to water sources and food. 

Final Words

While it’s difficult to determine definitively which animals have the absolute worst memories in the world, there are a few species that stand out as having particularly forgetful natures. For example, goldfish are notorious for their short-term memories, as they are only able to retain information for a few seconds at a time. Meanwhile, fruit flies are also known for their poor recall abilities, as they struggle to remember simple tasks or navigate new environments. Of course, it’s important to remember that memory capacity can vary widely across species, and even within individual animals.  

Reference:

Author Profile
Zahra Makda
Wildlife Enthusiast | Explorer at Animals Research

Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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