Mirror-induced behavior in the magpie (Pica pica): evidence of self-recognition.

Bibliographic Collection: 
MOCA Reference, APE
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Prior, H.; Schwarz, A.; Gunturkun, O.
Year of Publication: 2008
Journal: PLoS Biol
Volume: 6
Issue: 8
Pagination: e202
Date Published: 08/2008
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1545-7885
Keywords: Animals, Behavior, Animal, Crows, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Visual perception

Comparative studies suggest that at least some bird species have evolved mental skills similar to those found in humans and apes. This is indicated by feats such as tool use, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use one's own experience in predicting the behavior of conspecifics. It is, however, not yet clear whether these skills are accompanied by an understanding of the self. In apes, self-directed behavior in response to a mirror has been taken as evidence of self-recognition. We investigated mirror-induced behavior in the magpie, a songbird species from the crow family. As in apes, some individuals behaved in front of the mirror as if they were testing behavioral contingencies. When provided with a mark, magpies showed spontaneous mark-directed behavior. Our findings provide the first evidence of mirror self-recognition in a non-mammalian species. They suggest that essential components of human self-recognition have evolved independently in different vertebrate classes with a separate evolutionary history.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202
Alternate Journal: PLoS Biol.