Nature | News | Religion

Mirror Reveals the Self-Awareness of Elephants: VIDEO

Elephant

A recent clip from the Science Channel show Through the Wormhole which asks whether elephants might have the capacity for spirituality using several devices (including a mirror) that test their self-awareness.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. the more we find out about animal intelligence and consciousness it's going to be harder and harder to justify eating them.

    Posted by: candide | Apr 20, 2014 6:37:32 PM


  2. I love that show :)

    Posted by: Andrea | Apr 20, 2014 7:04:49 PM


  3. per the mirror test the ranking fore sentience goes

    1 humans
    2 orangutans
    3 dolphins & orcas
    4 ELEPHANTS
    5 chimps
    6 apes
    7 magpies
    8 crows and ravens

    elephants out rank our cousins the chimps and apes

    Posted by: Moz's | Apr 20, 2014 7:39:48 PM


  4. What is with all the god talk? Doesn't seem relevant. And this test is old, there are a few animals who have shown self awareness with the mirror test.
    I know this is a clip but the mirror test doesn't seem related to the pull test. Team work is shown in most animals. I find how wolves hunt much more sophisticated than two elephants pulling rope. And the wolves didn't pass the mirror test.

    Posted by: Tonez | Apr 20, 2014 7:39:59 PM


  5. Why is God being interjected into self-awareness? Good lord, can't animals show a small degree of awareness and self-curiosity without some hightoned trumped-up scheme of searching for a deity? The fake-noble narration is awful.

    Posted by: will | Apr 20, 2014 7:47:52 PM


  6. This clip illustrates why I can't visit the circus or zoos. These animals are capable of so much emotion, seeing them used (I realize the elephants in the clip are being used) makes me physically ill.

    Posted by: Ken | Apr 20, 2014 7:59:31 PM


  7. tonez

    the wolves/ canine failure at the mirror test is less a failure on their part and more a failure on human fault in being unable to devise a similar test utilizing scent as the primary sense (as vs all passes on the mirror test are sight primary species)

    Posted by: Moz's | Apr 20, 2014 8:09:13 PM


  8. To the cynics on this website: We are hardwired to believe in that Parent Source, Higher Power, God, whatever you want to call It, that made us and the Universe a long time ago. A strong urge to unite and contact that Source, the Father/Mother Presence. Many people do it during meditation, which has helped me a great deal. Yes, there is a Power greater than us, that transcends the intellect and the 5 senses. It's a benevolent power that can be very kind and loving when you call upon It.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Apr 20, 2014 9:33:33 PM


  9. @ david

    nonsense, hardwired = genetic

    religion is soft wired = upbringing / social environment

    Posted by: Moz's | Apr 20, 2014 9:39:03 PM


  10. I've always liked elephants, ever since I was a child. Just saying.

    I had a homeless stray kitty that used to hang around my building awhile back. Felt enpathy for the little guy, so adopted him, took him to the vet, had him fixed, gave him a home. He was well aware of his image and place in the scheme of things. Let him out one night (he was a night owl, like most kitties, and liked hunting for little virds and chipmunks to give me), and as fate would have it, he got smushed by a speeding taxi cabcrossing the street. I miss him.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 20, 2014 9:47:30 PM


  11. @MOZ'S: I wasn't talking about religion, but rather, something of a deeper spiritual nature that can't be figured out with genetics, the intellect or anything of a human nature. It goes far beyond that.
    Intellects usually outthink and outsmart themselves.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Apr 20, 2014 9:47:58 PM


  12. @candide

    Smart animals will still eating other animals. It's called the food chain and humans are also part of it. If you are a vegetarian that's fine but don't lecture other humans about something even animals do.

    Posted by: Matt | Apr 20, 2014 10:12:04 PM


  13. @ Matt

    eating non sentient animals is a-ok, but eating sentient ones isn't. One doesn't eat something with a MIND close to our own

    oh and octopus pass the mirror test after the birds at around #8, use tools, and solve problems like opening screw lid jars (squid are not sentient thus ok to eat)

    Posted by: Moz's | Apr 20, 2014 10:20:03 PM


  14. So, basically, the "science" channel wants to see if we can convert elephants?

    I'm only partially kidding here, because the god thing is just so damn blatant.

    Seriously, with all the amazing questions we could ask ourselves about self-awareness in elephants, wondering if they could believe in god merits all this attention?

    Were only our brains advanced enough that we could stop being fixated on mythical figures, believing them to be real.

    Glad that elephants have the self-awareness genes, if only all of us humans got the logic ones. :p

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 21, 2014 1:00:31 AM


  15. Yeah, repeatedly pushing the unconnected idea of a God as being somehow logically connected with cognition and intelligence and emotional relationships and memory is absurd. Was this on the Jesus channel or what?

    Posted by: emjayay | Apr 21, 2014 2:00:10 AM


  16. @MOZ's, is that a list of the most intelligent creatures? If so, I believe that you forgot about pigs. Pigs should be ranked right after humans, as they are the smartest non-human creature.

    Posted by: Lucas | Apr 21, 2014 2:32:02 PM


  17. @MOZ's, is that a list of the most intelligent creatures? If so, I believe that you forgot about pigs. Pigs should be ranked right after humans, as they are the smartest non-human creature.

    Posted by: Lucas | Apr 21, 2014 2:32:15 PM


  18. @MOZ's, is that a list of the most intelligent creatures? If so, I believe that you forgot about pigs. Pigs should be ranked right after humans, as they are the smartest non-human creature.

    Posted by: Lucas | Apr 21, 2014 2:32:30 PM


  19. @MOZ's, is that a list of the most intelligent creatures? If so, I believe that you forgot about pigs. Pigs should be ranked right after humans, as they are the smartest non-human creature.

    Posted by: Lucas | Apr 21, 2014 2:34:50 PM


  20. Some cats and dogs are self aware, over the years 2 of our dogs were aware of mirrored doors and could use them to watch us and recognize themselves. One of our current dogs uses the mantle mirror to watch for us to come into the area of the stair landing before descending. 2 of our cats recognized themselves in mirrors. Other dogs and cats have absolutely no recognizance of their mirror image. So overall, other the the old news of the elephants (I've known of this for several years) the only new info I saw was some of the other animals. I'd be interested to see what percentage of animals in these categories recognize themselves. THAT would be important data.

    Posted by: steven | Apr 21, 2014 2:48:18 PM


  21. Some cats and dogs are self aware, over the years 2 of our dogs were aware of mirrored doors and could use them to watch us and recognize themselves. One of our current dogs uses the mantle mirror to watch for us to come into the area of the stair landing before descending. 2 of our cats recognized themselves in mirrors. Other dogs and cats have absolutely no recognizance of their mirror image. So overall, other the the old news of the elephants (I've known of this for several years) the only new info I saw was some of the other animals. I'd be interested to see what percentage of animals in these categories recognize themselves. THAT would be important data.

    Posted by: steven | Apr 21, 2014 2:48:29 PM


  22. Some cats and dogs are self aware, over the years 2 of our dogs were aware of mirrored doors and could use them to watch us and recognize themselves. One of our current dogs uses the mantle mirror to watch for us to come into the area of the stair landing before descending. 2 of our cats recognized themselves in mirrors. Other dogs and cats have absolutely no recognizance of their mirror image. So overall, other the the old news of the elephants (I've known of this for several years) the only new info I saw was some of the other animals. I'd be interested to see what percentage of animals in these categories recognize themselves. THAT would be important data.

    Posted by: steven | Apr 21, 2014 2:48:38 PM


  23. Lucas

    pigs rank lower and its iffy

    the mirror test of pigs showed they didnt recognize themselves BUT they did use the mirror to find food around a corner that was only visible via the mirror

    pigs are still debatable

    Posted by: Moz's | Apr 21, 2014 2:55:06 PM


  24. Lucas

    pigs rank lower and its iffy

    the mirror test of pigs showed they didnt recognize themselves BUT they did use the mirror to find food around a corner that was only visible via the mirror

    pigs are still debatable

    Posted by: Moz's | Apr 21, 2014 2:55:12 PM


  25. The segment is worthless. The mirror test proves nothing. A fly that gets out of the way when you try to swat it is showing as much self-awareness. There's no relationship between self-awareness and religious conviction and there is no "need to believe". A "need to believe" would not indicate that any belief is true regardless.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 21, 2014 3:56:21 PM


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