Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Another No Agenda Zone Enhanced News Story
Mirror test suggests elephant self-aware
Tue, October 31, 2006
By AP 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. It's complex behaviour observed in only a few other species.
In a 2005 experiment, Happy faced her reflection in an 2 1/2 -by-2 1/2 -metre mirror and repeatedly used her trunk to touch an "X" painted above her eye. The elephant could not
have seen the mark except in her reflection. Furthermore, Happy ignored a similar mark, made on the opposite side of her head in paint of an identical smell and texture, that was invisible unless seen under black light
The test results suggest elephants are self-aware, or at least that Happy is. The ability to distinguish oneself from others had previously been shown only in humans, chimpanzees and, to a limited extent, dolphins.
Weeks later Happy seems to be really getting the hang of the mirror and its importance much to the chagrin of her mate.