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Magpies Prove Humans Aren’t So Special

Filed under: Media Stupid Wildlife

This magpie might be smarter than you.

A new study shows that magpies can recognize themselves in the mirror. This puts them on a growing list of self-aware animals, along with chimpanzees, dolphins, elephants, and, of course, humans.

Read the study here (from the Institute of Psychology at Goethe University in Frankfurt).

Naturally, Reuters’ spin on this story is not “Hey, maybe we humans should stop treating other animals as our possessions and playthings!” but “Oooh, this sheds more light on how human brains work!”

Oh, humanity. Maybe you need to work on that self-awareness thing yourself.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Pigeons can recognize themselves in the mirror too. Right now the story I found about it isn’t available, but here’s an excerpt (and the link in case it comes back up):

    Keio University Professor Shigeru Watanabe and Tsukuba University graduate student Kohji Toda trained pigeons to discriminate real-time self-images using mirrors as well as videotaped self-images. They said the pigeons were able to recognize video images that reflected their movements as self-image.

    Self-recognition has previously been discovered in large primates such as chimpanzees and recent findings show dolphins and elephants also have such intelligence, the scientists said. Demonstrating pigeons have that ability proves high intelligence, such as self-recognition, can be seen in various animals and is not limited to animals with relatively large brains.


  2. Comment by


    on #

    I’m not surprised at all. If you have a pet and closely learn its body language you learn amazing things about them. My little parrot smiles, plays, and gives me kisses. I don’t know if she recognizes the reflection in the mirror as herself….I think she does but she is also hormonally stimulated by the image and will partake in breeding behaviors with it- in her species the female and male look the same. I actually thought she was a male untill one day she laid an egg. I think pretty much most animals are far more intelligent than most people give them credit for. As a friend said once, there are different types of intelligence. And as far as I see it, they’ve been here way longer than we have so evolutionarily speaking they have had more years to evolve as species than us.