Self-recognition, it has been argued, is a hallmark of advanced cognitive abilities in animals. It was previously thought that only the usual suspects of higher cognition—some great apes, dolphins, and elephants—were able to recognize their own bodies in a mirror. In a PLoS Biology article, psychologist Helmut Prior and colleagues show evidence of self-recognition in magpies — a species with a brain structure very different from mammals.
The researchers subjected the magpies to a mark test, wherein a mark is placed on the subject's body in such a way that it can only be seen in a mirror. When the magpies engaged in activity that was directed towards the mark (e.g. scratching at it), the researchers were able to conclude that these birds recognized the image in the mirror as themselves, and not another animal.
These findings not only indicate that non-mammalian species can engage in self-recognition behavior, but they also show that self-recognition can occur in species without a neocortex. This area is thought to be crucial to self-recognition in mammals, and its absence in this case suggests that higher cognitive skills can develop independently along separate evolutionary lines.
Mammals and birds have developed vastly different brain structures, and future studies will be able to further examine how these structures converge to produce similar cognitive abilities.
Citation:Prior H, Schwarz A, Güntürkün O (2008) Mirror-induced behavior in the magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of self-recognition. PLoS Biol 6(8): e202. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- Education: Stop New Age Thinking, Chalk And Talk Might Be The Best Way After All
- Big Data Could Be A Big Problem For Workplace Discrimination Law
- Interstellar Is A Dangerous Fantasy Of US Colonialism
- Reasons Serious Scientist Should Not Fear The Winnower and other OA Open Review Journals.
- 3X Saturated Fat In The Diet Doesn't Increase It In Blood
- The BPA Paradox – Too Many Studies?
- "This article is nothing but a nasty attempt to hide the true significance of Dr. Lu's findings..."
- "all information provided very useful and very good at all to add new insights, thank you very much ..."
- "thanks to the information provided, it adds insight for us and add more extensive knowledge obat..."
- "thanks to the information provided, it adds insight for us and add more extensive knowledge http..."
- "Intriguing article. Science fiction at its best, but who knows what my grandchildren's grandchildren..."
- Adult survivors of childhood eye cancer experience few cognitive or social setbacks
- Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say
- Schizophrenia may be triggered by excess protein during brain development
- The sound of status: People know high-power voices when they hear them
- Mutant protein takes babies' breath away