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What Do Animals See in a Mirror?

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posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:13 PM
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Here's a great read by nautilus. We've all seen at one point or another a dog or cat interact with a mirror. If you live under a rock here's a video



The idea to test for "self awareness" came to Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. while shaving. “It just occurred to me,” he says, “wouldn’t it be interesting to see if other creatures could recognize themselves in mirrors?”



Gallup was a new professor at Tulane University in Louisiana, where he had access to the chimps and gorillas at what would later be known as the Tulane National Primate Research Center. The chimpanzees there had been caught as youngsters in Africa and shipped to America, where they were used mainly in biomedical research. By comparison, his experiment was far less invasive. He isolated two chimps in cages, and placed a mirror in each cage for eight hours at a time over 10 days. Through a hole in the wall, Gallup witnessed a shift in the chimps’ behavior. First they treated the reflection like it was another chimp, with a combination of social, sexual, and aggressive gestures. But over time, they started using it to explore their own bodies. “They’d use the mirror to look at the inside of their mouths, to make faces at the mirror, to inspect their genitals, to remove mucous from the corner of their eyes,” Gallup says.

Gallup was sure that the chimps had learned to recognize themselves in the mirror, but he didn’t trust that other researchers would be convinced by his descriptions. So he moved on to phase two of the experiment. He anesthetized the chimps, then painted one eyebrow ridge and the opposite ear tip with a red dye that the chimps wouldn’t be able to feel or smell. If they truly recognized themselves, he thought he knew what would happen: “It seemed pretty obvious that if I saw myself in a mirror with marks on my face, that I’d reach up and inspect those marks.”

That’s exactly what the chimps did. As far as Gallup was concerned, that was proof: “the first experimental demonstration of a self-concept in a subhuman form,” he wrote in the resulting 1970 report in Science. “It was just clear as day,” he remembers. “It didn’t require any statistics. There it was. Bingo.”


Here is a video by National Geographic that talks about the same subject.




+18 more 
posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:21 PM
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a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

So if animals have the capability of self realization (a sense of self), then are they conscious?

This would lead me to believe that yes, they are.

What does this mean?

It means humans are rat bastards for torturing animals daily.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:24 PM
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I know that (as in the video of the kitten) that is not how most kittens would react to a stranger kitten- it seems more like the kitten is thinking "wtf is this sorcery?!"



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:24 PM
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stupid mouse.
edit on 170000003605pmb14America/Chicago by Hushabye because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:36 PM
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a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

When I had my first kitty cat, not family cat but mine, I plopped her down in front of the mirror and she started hissing and her fur puffed up, needless to say she was quite upset with the other kitty in the mirror. After seeing herself in the reflection a few more times she stopped that behavior. I tried the same experiment with my other cats, same behavior from them as well.

I do believe animals are self aware, at least my cats seem to be.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:37 PM
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Awesome! I added a few more just for fun and it seems the higher intelligent dolphins, elephants and chimps figure it out as self reflection, intriguing and yea I think animals should be granted more rights and yes when they are abused or neglected it is heartbreaking for sure. Watching them think and contemplate is just fascinating. Plus just playing is entertaining for us and them it seems.



A little compilation



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:40 PM
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originally posted by: andr3w68
a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

So if animals have the capability of self realization (a sense of self), then are they conscious?

This would lead me to believe that yes, they are.

What does this mean?

It means humans are rat bastards for torturing animals daily.


I think many more species than we would imagine are. (To preface I'm not really that big of a "bird person") Just as an example:

Birds exhibit actions such as planning for the future (hiding stashes of food in places), remembering the past::going for the food that would rot or spoil first, can have caches of food as large as 5,000+ in very disparate locations...

Some species have dialects that can differ even by distances of one end of a large island to another, and can Create tools to gather and hook food, pass it to their offspring, who make Improvements on the tool design.

So cool.

Just for the bird angle (which I admit is only the beginning of the whole consciousness debate in animals) there is a great PBS show
..there are others on just birds (but also many other animals)--they (birds) do have some wrinkles in their brain to allow more area.

Like I said I'm not even a big bird enthusiast, but to see the intelligence, and extrapolate further to other animals...



ETA: Yeah to agree with you, animal experimentation = no no
edit on 5/16/2014 by Chamberf=6 because: ETA and say I added italics in quote



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 05:50 PM
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a reply to: Chamberf=6

See, and there are still some people that would love to think animals are just walking meat, void of any thought or emotion.

It's very hard to NOT feel sorry for all those critters in cages, but this discussion makes me want to burn those testing facility's down. After the animals are released of course. :-)



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 06:02 PM
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My cat likes to sit in my bed in a precise way so she can see herself in the mirror, i dont know if she knows it's her, but she never reacts with her reflection like if she thought that was another cat, she stays there looking at herself she takes a bath and still looking. One night my brother came to say good night and sit beside her while she was doing the mirror thing and he waved his hand behind her, she saw the reflexion and look back, she looked very confused but i think she knew that what she saw was reflection she knew that the thing (my brothers hand) was behind her.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 06:05 PM
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I do love my critters... and having kept dogs and cats all my life
it's an insult to be told by "Experts" that animals are not concious.

Of course they are..

I once witnessed in a local pet shop an unexpected harrowing event.

My daughter and i were looking at the reptiles and as I was looking in this
this lizards tank I notice a cricket that the Lizard had missed at meal time.

I t was peering up over a rock at the lizard and I swear it looked frightened.

I wanted to but could not intervene to save it... I felt really bad for it.

But it does go to show that even a cricket was aware of it's surroundings and was scared.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 06:29 PM
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a reply to: Bitxushanty

Yeah, I'm a cat MAN. Gotta say it like that to still sound masculine.

JUST KIDDING.

But I am.

My cats chase each other around corners by checking out the mirror on one of my doors that shows 2 rooms when tilted the way They push it.

And they meow at me when I am in the other room waving at them in the mirror around the corner.
My Manx loves to get in the mirror act, like he is staring at himself and (sneak attack!) pounce on the other in this crazy backwards twist-jump move.

edit on 5/16/2014 by Chamberf=6 because: dropped an "s" then picked it up and put it back into post.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:05 PM
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Such beautiful aware intelligent animals. Wasn't aware that great apes have better memory recall for number sequences than humans, would like to look into that, seems they can even out perform us in some areas. And the spirit, dolphins giving even captivity. Joyful and cooperating with us. We need to take good care of our oceans and ponds and lakes, and develop alot more aquaponics, for even shrimp can be grown in greenhouses. And let them have a clean ocean. Clean energies, not dirty fossil fuels. Stop the wars, and love the planet and creatures great and small.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:31 PM
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Self awareness is a primtive trait, the ones that have evolved have kept it.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:34 PM
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Self aware means you are, you have spirit. You're not a toaster, you are a progressing entity. Its the gift of endless life and a miraculously wonderful trait. And we're responsible if we bring misery hardship, pain/suffering/anger/betrayal, or break the spirit of any of these aware beings, and make their progression take longer.

We need to do ethical livestock, free range type, with really ethical and humane methodologies and provide a clean world.
edit on 16-5-2014 by Unity_99 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:43 PM
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You should read "The Gap" by Thomas Suddendorf for a long conversation of animal abilities.

Theres a parsimonious and liberal way to interpret what apes see in mirrors. But I think we should try to make sense of what apes think - in particular, chimpanzees and bonobos - before we start according to them human like reflective abilities.

Chimps are highly social, but they are not empathic in the sense that they reflect upon the pains of others during the experience an emotion. Their experience - and how they live in the wild - would not support such an interpretation. Instead, chimps, when they see themselves in a mirror, are probably experiencing at a very embodied level that they exist. By embodied I mean Chimps - and other primates with this ability - are aware of themselves as physical agents. This is an important distinction to make. Human beings are aware of themselves ontologically. Meaning, that they reflect upon the contents of their awareness. In cognitive neuroscience, this is called "representing a representation".

In animal behavior, we can refer to 3 basic levels of being. Instinct/Emotion. Social Awareness. And Executive awareness. Reptiles and Amphibians have basic instinct/emotion. Mammals, and in particular, primates, have a higher level social awareness. Social awareness is an "addition" to primal homeostatic emotions i.e. seek food, etc, by adding social behaviors of all sorts. But these behaviors are not engaged in a strictly conscious way. They are mostly anoetic - they occur without forethought. This means they have "representations" of their emotions in terms of the contents that pass through their cognitive awareness. But they do not represent this awareness like we do. Their cognitions occur unconsciously, or implicitly. They are "conscious", just not in the same way that we are.

Each member of the troop, or pack, is conditioned by the other; each of their individual behaviours occur in terms of the system they are a part of. They have not developed the brain regions that human beings have - and human beings have the largest brains relative to body size of any creature on this planet - that allows them to put even the contents of their mind under analysis. Although the bulk of human behavior is determined by unconscious processes - just as in animals - we still have this "focus" ability that we can call into action whenever we want to. This allows us to continuously update what were experiencing in our environments. This allows culture to form. And the rest is history.

When a chimp sees itself in the mirror, it is experiencing something interesting. If you put a sticker on his head without his knowing, he will reach for it when placed in front of a mirror. But there is no reflection upon this reflection. Apes dont have that "existential" level of awareness.
edit on 16-5-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:51 PM
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originally posted by: Astrocyte
You should read "The Gap" by Thomas Suddendorf for a long conversation of animal abilities.

Theres a parsimonious and liberal way to interpret what apes see in mirrors. But I think we should try to make sense of what apes think - in particular, chimpanzees and bonobos - before we start according to them human like reflective abilities.

Chimps are highly social, but they are not empathic in the sense that they reflect upon the pains of others during the experience an emotion. Their experience - and how they live in the wild - would not support such an interpretation. Instead, chimps, when they see themselves in a mirror, are probably experiencing at a very embodied level that they exist. By embodied I mean Chimps - and other primates with this ability - are aware of themselves as physical agents. This is an important distinction to make. Human beings are aware of themselves ontologically. Meaning, that they reflect upon the contents of their awareness. In cognitive neuroscience, this is called "representing a representation".

In animal behavior, we can refer to 3 basic levels of being. Instinct/Emotion. Social Awareness. And Executive awareness. Reptiles and Amphibians have basic instinct/emotion. Mammals, and in particular, primates, have a higher level social awareness. Social awareness is an "addition" to primal homeostatic emotions i.e. seek food, etc, by adding social behaviors of all sorts. But these behaviors are not engaged in a strictly conscious way. They are mostly anoetic - they occur without forethought. Each member of the troop, or pack, is conditioned by the other; each of their individual behaviours occur in terms of the system they are a part of. They have not developed the brain regions that human beings have - and human beings have the largest brains relative to body size of any creature on this planet - that allows them to put even the contents of their mind under analysis. Although the bulk of human behavior is determined by unconscious processes - just as in animals - we still have this "focus" ability that we can call into action whenever we want to.

When a chimp sees itself in the mirror, it is experiencing something interesting. If you put a sticker on his head without his knowing, he will reach for it when placed in front of a mirror. But there is no reflection upon this reflection. Apes dont have that "existential" level of awareness.
Titus the gorilla is/was more self aware than any chimp. Instead of fighting his son Titus,he tested his familys loyalty. An awareness which goes far beyond a mirror.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:56 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte


before we start according to them human like reflective abilities.

Are we all really talking about HUMAN capabilities here?

Not sure complete, side by side comparisons really apply.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 08:58 PM
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a reply to: Unity_99

This may literally be the first time I understand and agree with what you said.



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 09:18 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

You should look into Kanzi the Bonobo. There's a piece of video (I'm fairly sure it's Kanzi) where he cracks a joke in sign language. That's way beyond what you think primates are capable of.

I also agree with Chamberf=6 - trying to assign or compare human attributes when studying animals is totally the wrong approach. Their intelligence must be measured in ways appropriate for them, not us.
edit on 16-5-2014 by MarsIsRed because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2014 @ 09:36 PM
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a reply to: MarsIsRed

That's not a very popular theory amongst ethologists and comparative psychologists. I've read a lot on this. But, I'm sure whatever I say will not satisfy your desire to want to believe that gorillas understand the complexities of human culture i.e possess the ability to read human social interactions, infer the appropriateness of humour, which implies a theory of mind of another species (albeit, within the genus).

This site isn't a science forum. Most people here aren't knowledgeable or self aware enough to realize how implausible it is to think gorillas, or chimps, or bonobos, or any non-human animal, possesses a human like awareness.

It's not your fault for not knowing, of course. But I do think it's important that I try to inject some sanity and clarity into romantic ideas of dr. doolittle conversing with animals who understand his awareness. Animals, each animal, needs to be understood in an ethological way. This means understanding their behaviors, their habitats, and the relationship between the two. In addition to this, you need to go into the brains of these creatures to see what makes each creature different from the other. This is the neuroscience side. ALOT of research has been done in this area. We've dissected the brains of various animals. We've put them under PET (positron emission tomography) fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). We know how they're wired (their nerve fibres and where they go) and also how they think. Based upon all this, we can say fairly confidently - with a higher probability - that human culture - and humor - is unknowable to any non-human mind.

I could and would love to go into the neurobiology and psychology of why this is. I would hope that you'd listen and consider what I'm writing. But based upon the last few posts, it seems people here, or at least most of them, are really emotionally focused on justifying this claim that a bonobo or gorilla possess human like cognitive powers, when its simply not the case.





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