Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mirror Self-recognition In Magpie Birds

Date:
August 19, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
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. Psychologists have shown evidence of self-recognition in magpies -- a species with a brain structure very different from mammals.

Magpie with yellow mark.
Credit: Courtesy Prior H, Schwarz A, Güntürkün O, PLoS Biology, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202

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.

Psychologist Helmut Prior and colleagues have shown 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 behaviour, 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Prior et al. Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition. PLoS Biology, 2008; 6 (8): e202 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Mirror Self-recognition In Magpie Birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818220557.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, August 19). Mirror Self-recognition In Magpie Birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818220557.htm
Public Library of Science. "Mirror Self-recognition In Magpie Birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818220557.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) — An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins