Reactions to Reflections

Scientists perform mirror test to determine animal's self-awareness

Photo+courtesy+of+Taryn+Holmes
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Reactions to Reflections

Photo courtesy of Taryn Holmes

Photo courtesy of Taryn Holmes

Photo courtesy of Taryn Holmes

Photo courtesy of Taryn Holmes

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Thanks to modern technology, videos and stories quickly spread with the click of a

button. Among the plethora of online videos, cats reacting to their reflections prove popular. These videos receive much attention, but despite the appearance of mindless antics, they actually reflect science. ​Scientist Gordon Gallup, Jr. developed the idea that when an animal looks in the mirror, they​ see their ​reflection of themselves.

After collecting all of the data and testing multiple species, Gallup came to the conclusion that cats, dogs, pigs, birds and even infant children (under the age of 18 months) lack the ability to recognize ​t​heir own reflection. A few animals, such as elephants, chimpanzees, dolphins and orcas, realize that they see themselves and earn the title of “self- aware.”

This test requires little in terms of calling for supplies, only a test subject, odorless dye and a mirror. Continuing with set up, scientists simply put a little dye on the test subject and place them in front of a mirror. If the subject successfully wipe away the dye, using the mirror to find it, the subject passed the test as “self- aware.”

This test seems simple, and some people believe that the only reason some animals failed the mirror test comes from the fact that the test appeals only to some species of animals. Scientists need more evidence before they make a solid conclusion.

This study increased scientist’s interest in different species of animals and many encourage the general public to participate in the studies themselves. Many tried to spread the word of these tests through videos. Those videos make up a select few in the sea of crazy cat reaction videos online.

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