Animal Sentience

Animal Sentience

Other enlightened beings include dolphins, chimps, bonbons, orangutans, and of course, humans. The testing system is called Mirror Self-Recognition. Animals are enclosed in a space equipped with a mirror and observed. Often, a colored mark is placed on the forehead, to help the animal establish recognition. Some elephants have even learned to use the mirror to explore and wash away the mark. Dolphins and primates are also showing advanced signs of recognition. Recognition is measured in the ability to utilize the mirror to direct a behavior to an unseen place.

Examples of this are primates looking into the mirror and grooming their eyes, blowing bubbles, and picking their teeth. Another way to look at this is kinesthesia-visual matching. This is the “recognition of similarity between the feeling of one’s own body extent or event and how it looks”, or having the ability to match movement by sight. However, don’t De too quickly to Jump to ten conclusion Tanat you are ten most intelligent animals around. Although there are many species that have a hard time recognizing themselves in a mirror, there are Just as many reasons.

Although dogs have a great sense of smell and can recognize each other with their noses, their eyesight is not nearly as developed. They are coloring and their vision can often be fuzzy. When they look in the mirror, they cannot see the image or the colors very well. Many dogs attempt to start fights with their own reflections, while others are scared of the animal that is looking back at them. Although humans are very capable of recognizing themselves in a mirror, it isn’t always easy for them.

Children cannot recognize their own reflections until they are 3-4 years old. Similar to object permanency, children must grow into the realization that they are their own separate identity. Dogs and young children usually react to the mirror with a variety of timid and curious behaviors. These include shying away from the mirror, attempting to touch the ‘other’ dog or child, and becoming excited. Gorillas have not recognized themselves yet either. Even though at least one gorilla has shown recognition, it is difficult for others to follow suit.

Eye contact is an aggressive statement to these primates, which may have a lot to do with their poor performances during this test. Looking into another gorilla’s eyes is taken as a challenge of authority; so many gorillas will not even look at themselves in the mirror for fear of starting a fight. Another problem with the mirror test is stereoscopic vision. This is the ability to perceive depth. Some animals, like rabbits and deer, do not have this. This causes a as with presenting them with a mirror and expecting them to recognize themselves.

Of course, humans should realize that unless they are dealing with animals gifted with human language, it is very difficult (if even possible at all) to determine precisely why animals act the way they do. There’s no way to tell what an animal is thinking or feeling for sure, and so the debate about animal intelligence may never end. Humans go back and forth between true animal intelligence and miraculous chance events constantly, and using mirrors to measure self-awareness is just another form of fuel for the fire.