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Self-recognition, once thought to be an ability enjoyed only by select primates, has now been demonstrated in a bird. The finding has raised questions about part of the brain called the neocortex, something the self-aware magpie does not even possess.
In humans, the ability to recognise oneself in a mirror develops around the age of 18 months and coincides with the first signs of social behaviour. So-called "mirror mark tests", where a mark is placed on the animal in such a way that it can only be observed when it looks at its reflection, have been used to sort the self-aware beasts from the rest.
Of hundreds tested, in addition to humans, only four apes, bottlenose dolphins and Asian elephantsMovie Camera have passed muster. Helmut Prior at Goethe University in Frankfurt and his colleagues applied a red, yellow or black spot to a place on the necks of five magpies. The stickers could only be seen using a mirror. Then he gave the birds mirrors.
The feel of the mark on their necks did not seem to alarm them. But when the birds with coloured neck spots caught a glimpse of themselves, they scratched at their necks - a clear indication that they recognised the image in the mirror as their own. Those who received a black sticker, invisible against the black neck feathers, did not react.
When Slobodchikoff first started studying the prairie dogs, he couldn't really tell the difference between the calls for, say, a coyote or a hawk. But the prairie dogs responded to the different calls with specific behaviors, like dropping into their burrows or standing up to get a better view. Slobodchikoff started to think there might be something in those "chees" that he wasn't hearing. So he decided to investigate.
Slobodchikoff and his students went out into the prairie dog villages, hid behind bushes, and stuck out their microphones whenever a human, or a dog, or a coyote, or a hawk passed through. They recorded calls that the prairie dogs made in response to different predators. Then he took his recordings to a lab and used a computer program to analyze the sounds. Any given sound is actually made up of different frequencies and overtone layers on top of one another. Slobodchikoff's computer measured those frequencies and separated out all the component tones and overtones.
What Slobodchikoff discovered was that the calls clustered into different groups, and each cluster had its own signature set of frequencies and tones. Prairie dogs, in other words, don't just have a call for "danger" — they have one call for "human," another for "hawk" and a third for "coyote." They can even differentiate between coyotes and domesticated dogs.
The bonobo was officially classified as Pan paniscus, or the diminutive Pan. But I believe a different label might have been selected had the discoverers known then what we know now. The old taxonomic name of the chimpanzee, P. satyrus-- which refers to the myth of apes as lustful satyrs--would have been perfect for the bonobo.
The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression. Whereas in most other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it is part and parcel of social relations--and not just between males and females. Bonobos engage in sex in virtually every partner combination (although such contact among close family members may be suppressed). And sexual interactions occur more often among bonobos than among other primates. Despite the frequency of sex, the bonobo's rate of reproduction in the wild is about the same as that of the chimpanzee. A female gives birth to a single infant at intervals of between five and six years. So bonobos share at least one very important characteristic with our own species, namely, a partial separation between sex and reproduction.
Originally posted by AnotherYOU
Reply to post by Visionaryium
oh i think i cracked this thread, because it seems that what makes us humans is we are the only ones who destroy and or try to dominate the very thing that sustains our existence.
we are the ones who opose
nature instead of going along with it.
Originally posted by syrinx high priest
killing for the fun of it, and killing on a massive scale is what defines us. throw in pollution and sexual depravity and you get homo sapien sapien
Originally posted by TravelerintheDark
In the end there seems to be nothing unique about humans at all. Other than perhaps the fact that we build fences.
Originally posted by acapablemind
So what really seperates us from the rest of nature? Nothing, in my opinion. However, OP, your question was what makes us human? I would say adaptability. Sure, everything that has survived today has adapted. But, humans are, in my opinion, the most able to adapt and thus, generally have free-run of the Earth today.
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin