Animals Recognize Themselves In The Mirror In Brief Magical Moments
Aside from humans, there are only a handful of animals capable of passing a mirror test. The mirror, or dot, test measures an animal's ability to self-recognize by applying a removable dye to the animal, then examining whether or not he'll attempt to touch the dye on his own body when seeing it in a mirror.
Check out these intelligent creatures who've attained a level of self-awareness nearly unrivaled in the animal kingdom!
Chimps have no problem recognizing themselves in a mirror. Studies have shown they're bright enough to distinguish a dye dot and remove it by looking at their own reflections. If this video is any indication, they might have a little vanity problem, too.
Asian elephants have showcased an aptitude for self-awareness by exploring mirrors placed in front of them. They will check behind the mirror, seemingly to ensure another elephant isn't on the other side. In one study, researchers applied two X marks on each of the elephants' cheeks, one white and the other invisible. The ladies always used their trunks to touch the white X when looking in the mirror and not the invisible one, indicating they were enamored with the appearance rather than the feeling.
Gorillas, along with orangutans, are considered the most intelligent of the Great Apes. However, it turns out gorillas are the only ones who can't always recognize themselves in a mirror. Only one, a female named Koko, has demonstrated the cognitive self-awareness shared among her other ape brethren.
Only one bird species has shown evidence of self-recognition and that's the magpie. The birds are capable of recognizing a non-natural mark on their feathers and preening it until it no longer appears in a mirror. They've also used mirrors to guide their own self-directed behavior.
Diana Reiss, bio-psychology professor and author of the book "The Dolphin in the Mirror," told NPR that dolphins engage in highly repetitive behaviors when placed in front of a mirror. In doing so, they're able to recognize that their movements are the same as the reflection they're seeing and they will use it to examine their body parts, like tongues and eyes.
Rhesus monkeys have also passed a dot test with flying colors. Additionally, when placed in front of a mirror, they've also been seen examining in-depth parts of their body that they can't normally see without a one. However, they had to be trained to do so and sometimes the results only lasted a year.
Like their underwater dolphin cousins, orcas have occasionally been known to pass the mirror test. As this article points out, some wonder if their ability to self-identify can be a means to influence further laws to protect them and other animals by granting them personhood.
While Wilbur hasn't yet mastered the art of self-recognition through a mirror, pigs have shown a propensity for using mirrors as a tool to locate hidden food. This indicates that they do realize they're seeing a reflection, though it's unclear if they can tell when they're looking at themselves. They've been observed spending roughly 20 minutes studying their own reflections in mirrors trying to figure it out.
Next time someone tries to tell you that animals aren't self-aware, you can show them examples that prove otherwise. For further proof that animals are fully capable of being self-aware, check out this gorilla who's caused quite a stir mugging for the camera.