Mirrors are an everyday item that humans use, but for animals, it can be a much more confusing experience. This video shows chimps attacking their own reflection in a violent rage. Seeing the mirror alarmed the chimps, and they believed it was another chimp in their territory, challenging them. They use large branches and screams to try and scare off the unknown enemy. As time went on these chimps went from enraged, to playful, and started figuring out what exactly was going on.
The amazing wildlife experts Xavier Huber-Brierre, and Anne-Marire are who set up these cameras and mirrors in the wild. This video is from Central Africa, in the country of Gabon within the Nyonie forest. Motion cameras are around to see these animals’ reactions to seeing themselves in mirrors for the first time.
The cameras placed captured a variety of reactions from the chimps screaming, dancing, and even some just deciding to sit back and watch. This study is just one of many to test self-awareness. Mirrors are useful tools to study how animals react to their reflection.
Can Chimps Recognize Their Own Reflection?
Recognizing yourself in a mirror is a sign that you have learned to recognize your sense of self. Children typically learn to recognize themselves in a mirror when they are around 2 to 4 years old. Chimpanzees are one of the few animals that have shown to recognize themselves in mirrors. Other great apes, dolphins, elephants, and magpies, have also exhibited the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror.
The mirror test was first done by Gordon Gallup Jr. In 1970, to see if animals can visually recognize themselves. Other studies have also been done on chimps, to see if they can see themselves in videos. One study had chimps see themselves in a live and delayed video, testing if they will remove the sticker that was placed on their head. 3 out of every 5 chimpanzees shown in the video would remove the marking on their head that they saw while watching the video.
Chimpanzees with time are able to learn how to recognize themselves, and it is believed they have this capability around the same age a human does. In this video, you see a variety of chimp reactions, and some do begin to realize that the animal in the mirror is actually them.
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- Can animals recognize their own reflection , Available here: https://www.npr.org/2020/12/17/947552020/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-can-you-reveal-an-animals-inner-world-at-all#:~:text=The%20chimps%20began%20using%20the,were%20on%20their%20own%20faces.
- Mirror Test , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test
- Chimps recognize their own delayed image , Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579101/