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 17, 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 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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