News Stories

Elephant Wisdom

Five years ago, we reported that a dolphin recognizes himself when it sees its image in a mirror. Now it has been discovered that elephants do too. Scientists think that this is a true test of self-awareness.

Peter Aldhous writes in New Scientist that recognizing your own image was thought to be something only humans were capable of. Those of us who have pets know that when a cat or dog sees itself in a mirror, it thinks that another animal is there and will sometimes try to attack it. People who have a single bird as a pet will often put a mirror in the cage so that the bird thinks there?s another bird there, keeping it company.

Researcher Diana Reiss tested elephant awareness by putting a mark on elephants? bodies and positioning them in front of a mirror in a position that would make it necessary for them to hold their bodies a certain way in order to see it. She filmed Happy, an elephant at the Bronx Zoo in New York, repeatedly using its trunk to touch a marked that had been painted on its head. To view the movie, click here (QuickTime required).

Scientists have recently solved the mystery of how elephants communicate with one another over long distances. Read to the bottom of this edition of Anne's diary, to see why Whitley suspects that maybe they can even communicate psychically as well.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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