Unlike the vast majority of earth’s organisms, raccoons thrive as a result of human expansion into their natural habitats. Some experts believe that raccoons became even more intelligent and cunning as a result of exposure to human activity.
Studies have shown that urban raccoons are significantly more intelligent than their rural counterparts. To illustrate this intellectual disparity between city and country raccoons a comparative psychologist from New York University, Suzanne McDonald, has spent years studying the behavioral differences between urban and rural raccoons, especially differences in intellectual capacity.
The result of McDonald’s experiments clearly demonstrated that country-dwelling raccoons are substantially dumber than their big city counterparts. When it comes to both raw intelligence, as well as general problem solving abilities, urbanite raccoons reign supreme. The fact that city-dwelling raccoons generally demonstrate superior intelligence when compared to country-dwelling raccoons is no big surprise when you consider the challenges that face city-raccoons on a daily basis.
Raccoons living in the city must become adapted to human activity if they are to survive. The obstacles that an urban raccoon faces regularly, such as traffic and human exposure, requires them to think of novel ways to survive in an environment that is unnatural to them. Contrast this urban raccoon life to the life of a rural raccoon. Rural raccoons do not face the constant challenges that urban raccoons face because they have an instinctual ability to survive in their natural habitat without having to face unexpected challenges at every turn, like the urban raccoon does constantly.
According to Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser, city life is particularly beneficial to raccoons because raccoons are naturally bold and curious, and these types of animals make for good learners. Past researchers have even established a link between animal “boldness” and learning speed. It turns out that boldness and the ability to learn information rapidly are two traits that are positively correlated. So who knows? Maybe within the next couple of decades this planet will be overtaken by super smart city-dwelling raccoons.
Have you ever spotted a raccoon in the city? And if you have, did it run from you? Or did it seem fearless while in your presence?