Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Recognition at the Mirror

From The New York Times:
Who's That Strange Monkey in the Mirror?
The New York Times
Published: July 26, 2005

Humans, the great apes and, probably, dolphins share an intellectual skill unusual in the animal world: they recognize their own reflections in a mirror.

Capuchin monkeys, a new study says, understand that the image in the mirror is not a stranger, but they don't know it's their own.

That ability seems to mark a bright line between these species and monkeys, who, scientists have long assumed, look into mirrors and see only strangers. But a monkey's reaction to its reflection is more complex than is generally assumed, said Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta.

Dr. de Waal and his colleagues were able to test the widely held belief that monkeys see strangers in the mirror using two troops of tufted capuchin monkeys at the Yerkes Center that had never met each other.

The capuchins, the Yerkes team is reporting today, understood at once that the mirror image was not a stranger, even though they failed to recognize themselves in the image. The findings appeared last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Anthony H. Risser | | |

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