Are Elephants Self-Aware? October 30, 2006Posted by Michael in Ducks, Personal Experiences, Science.
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.