jump to navigation

Are Elephants Self-Aware? October 30, 2006

Posted by Michael in Ducks, Personal Experiences, Science.
trackback

Looks like it.

 By ANDREW BRIDGES, Associated Press Writer

15 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – If you’re Happy and you know it, pat your head. That, in a peanut shell, is how a 34-year-old female Asian elephant in the Bronx Zoo showed researchers that pachyderms can recognize themselves in a mirror — complex behavior observed in only a few other species.

Then again, we are talking about a female looking at herself in the mirror.   Human females do this endlessly.  Have you ever seen a human female who can walk by a mirror without stopping to look and fussing with her hair or something?  So maybe it’s not so special that the Bronx Zoo  got a female elephant to start obsessing about her appearance.  Maybe it’s really kinda sick.

The test results suggest elephants — or at least Happy — are self-aware. The ability to distinguish oneself from others had been shown only in humans, chimpanzees and, to a limited extent, dolphins.

They forgot to mention Wickedpinto, but let’s not pick nits. 

That self-recognition may underlie the social complexity seen in elephants, and could be linked to the empathy and altruism that the big-brained animals have been known to display, said researcher Diana Reiss, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo.

If the Bronx Zoo keeps this up, pretty soon Happy’s big brain is going to start complaining about a headache every time her boyfriend wants sex.

Mirror test implies elephants self-aware

About these ads

Comments»

1. lauraw - October 30, 2006

I think a lot of animals are ‘smarter’ than we give them credit for.

One thing I fail to quite grasp; we know that certain predator animals devise strategies and signal each other in the field, as well as make independent decisions about risk vs. reward.

How is that not explicit evidence of sentience?

“You go this way, he goes that way, I will go this other way,”

Etc.
Isn’t that impossible without self-awareness?

2. Wickedpinto - October 30, 2006

I am not an ANIMAL!!!

*sniffs butt*

3. Happy - October 30, 2006

*looking in mirror*

I can’t wait ’til tomorrow ’cause I get better looking each day!

4. Wickedpinto - October 30, 2006

I think that the idea about “self awareness” as this article states it is more about the ability to understand the abstraction of recognizing ones own reflection as a reflection. I think that the idea that dolphins recognize their own images is based on a somewhat false premise. There was a docu some time ago about dophin laguage that demonstrated that the clicking of a dolphin, the more common sounds made by dolphins, accelerate as they approach a solid structure, kinda like measuring the time it takes for the moon laser to return to earth, or sonar measures for distances, so if a dolphin “see’s” a solid object, that doesn’t look like a solid object, it inspects that object (a mirror) but the dolphins don’t tend to track their own actions with their eyes in the mirror.

To understand abstractions is one of the things that makes us more intelligent than animals. I’ve never actually seen my face, except in a mirror or on a picture, but I know that that is me. Thats why they think that this particular demonstration of self-awareness is so importance in the measure of intelligence in other species.

5. Lipstick - October 30, 2006

I am not an ANIMAL!!!

*sniffs butt*

Lol, WP

6. Dave in Texas - October 30, 2006

I will go this other way

And then I will eat his asshole out!

7. Wickedpinto - October 30, 2006

That self-recognition may underlie the social complexity seen in elephants, and could be linked to the empathy and altruism that the big-brained animals have been known to display, said researcher Diana Reiss, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo.

Anthropomorphocize much madame impartial researcher?

8. Retired Geezer - October 30, 2006

We have had a feral cat hanging out at Camp Geezer for almost a year. Nobody has ever gotten close to it. However one night a few months ago I was out in the shed and I turned around and there it was, kind of rolling on it’s back. It stayed there for a few minutes until I moved toward it then it ran away. I’ve tried many times to get close to it but no luck.
It has survived on it’s wits because nobody feeds it. I told Mrs. G that I was going to catch it and have it spayed and release it again.
“Good Luck” she said.
Oh ye of little faith, I replied.
I was changing a fuse in my truck with the door open when the cat jumps into the truck and starts nuzzling the garbage bag. There were some baggies leftover from peanut butter sammiches. I got the baggies out and gave them to the cat. Pretty soon I’m petting the cat and it’s liking it.
I go inside and get some catfood, bring it out and I’m a hero.
Even Mrs. Geezer got to pet it.

Does this count as a Cat-Blogging story?

Who can guess what I named it?

9. Retired Geezer - October 30, 2006

I forgot part of the story.
Mrs. G names ALL creatures, great and small, at Camp Geezer.
One of the little bunny rabbits was outside our window. All of a sudden she starts yelling “No No NO, get away” and I hear the baby bunny squealing. It was the feral cat carrying it off for a meal.
Tears were shed.
That cat has survived on mice, gophers, birds and baby bunnies.
It’s a good hunter, that’s why I want to spay it and have it hang around as an outdoor “Barn Cat”.

10. Wickedpinto - October 30, 2006

That cat has survived on mice, gophers, birds and baby bunnies.
It’s a good hunter, that’s why I want to spay it and have it hang around as an outdoor “Barn Cat”.

a cat was acting like a cat? The DEUCE YOU SAY!

Dogs have created a mutual partnership with humans, cat’s haven’t. Thats why I don’t like cats. I’m a dog guy.

If you wanna catch a cat, all you have to do is not own a dog, and feed the cat at a regular interval while slightly manipulating your position when you offer up the food.

Cats are good hunters, in a singular sense, but dogs/wolves totaly own.

11. Wickedpinto - October 31, 2006

LauraW can threadjack talking about a window cactus!!! but I can’t continue a discussion while staying within the context of the initial post, with urbane humor, scientific analysis, and then comparitive social examples?

I SO should have been able to make this thread about me, while keeping the thread about the initial post.

But LauraW talks about sand in a a flogging soil mixture, and a thread falls apart?!

WTfingF?!?!?!

I SO EARNED the right to be the lead on this thread.

You guys are MEAN!

12. geoff - October 31, 2006

Actually, WP, I thought your comment #4 was outstanding.

13. kevlarchick - October 31, 2006

When animals look in a mirror, they don’t think it’s themselves, they think it’s another animal. Then they fall in love with the image; it’s always there, always gazing back at them.

Geezer I love your critter story. Wild ducks hang out at our pool every spring and I won’t let my lab chase them. Ducks are people too!

What did you name the feral cat?

14. pupster - October 31, 2006

I’m guessing the cat is “Spudder”.

15. compos mentis - October 31, 2006

Then they fall in love with the image; it’s always there, always gazing back at them.

Unless it’s a male cardinal. Those stupid sunsabiches will attack their reflections in a window until they kill themselves.

I tend to prefer dogs as well, WP, but I’ve had a couple of cats that were great. Not distant, finicky, or underhanded in the least. Matter of fact, one of them was our schnauzer’s best friend. Those two would wrestle, chase, sleep together. But that says a lot about our dog too. He catches moles just to play with them. When he accidentally kills them, he doesn’t understand. He looks down at the rodent then up at me like, “Whu happened?”

16. Retired Geezer - October 31, 2006

I’m guessing the cat is “Spudder”

Yeah, that’s it, Spudder.

*cancels plans to order collar with “Grizabella” on it*

17. Michael - October 31, 2006

Man, I wouldn’t insult a cat with that name.

18. incontinuity - October 31, 2006

An Elephant that is self-aware?
Have they figured out a test to see if they have free will, too?

Yours In Continuity,
Allen
http://incontinuity.wordpress.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers

%d bloggers like this: