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Dolphin Self-Awareness

February 21, 2010

Dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors.


How dolphins see themselves…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Recognize that face in the mirror? If you do, you’ve passed a classic test of self-awareness. Some researchers use this test to see if animals recognize themselves. Hunter College psychologist Diana Reiss says that so far, dolphins have passed the test, along with apes, elephants, and magpies.

DIANA REISS (Hunter College):
Dolphins rely heavily on acoustics, yet they still have the ability to see themselves in front of a mirror, so what’s remarkable is the mirror self-recognition test is a visual test yet, these animals that may not use vision as their primary sense are still showing it.

Reiss says that in some parts of the world, dolphins have fewer protections than lab rats and are brutally killed in dolphin hunts. She says the discovery of self-awareness in dolphins is one more reason to end to such practices. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.