Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You ain't so special... part whatever

Some birds can tell they're looking at themselves in a mirror.

[Prior&al paper at PLoS Biology]

This is a version of the mirror test, used to gauge self-awareness.

There are now at least nine species where this has been observed; this is the first non-mammal to have unequivocal results - and there are a number of other bird species that I would be utterly unsurprised if they had similar results.

You have to wonder - do they have a theory of mind? From what I've seen from certain corvids, I would have to suppose that they do.

As the wikipedia link (which has already been updated to include the new information) points out, it's not a suitable test for all animals, so there may well be some creatures who don't perform at the mirror test who are nevertheless self-aware.

1 comment:

Dana Hunter said...

I'm nearly positive my cat has a theory of mind.

It goes something like, "I am a goddess. You live to serve me."

I imagine she doesn't think I'm all that sentient, although I'm smart enough to bring home food.

Humans who think humans are the only brainy ones going really drive me nuts.