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Conscious beings. Adélie penguins look in the mirror for the first time and surprise scientists (photo)

The study shows that chinstrap penguins successfully passed the mirror test and showed signs of self-awareness.

The mirror test was first developed in 1970 by the American psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. With this experiment, the scientist tried to understand whether animals have the ability to visual self-knowledge, he writes Daily mail.

Since then, many animals have passed the mirror test, and scientists have concluded that cetaceans, primates, elephants, and some birds and fish are self-aware. Now the Adélie chinstrap penguins have joined them.

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The essence of the mirror test is that animals are placed under anesthesia and a certain area of ​​u200bu200bthe body is marked. After the animal has woken up, it is placed in a room with access to a mirror: if the animal touches the mark and examines it, this is considered a sign that the animal perceives the reflection as an image of itself and not of another animal.

In a new study, scientists from the Ministry of Geosciences under the Government of India, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay and the National Institute for Advanced Study (India) have set out to place an arctic penguin species, the Adélie penguin, in a test mirror.

A total of 12 flightless birds took part in the study.

Scientists conducted mirror tests with a dozen Adélie penguins living in East Antarctica and found that the flightless birds recognized each other in two of the three experiments. A total of three tests were carried out:

  1. in the first, mirrors have been installed on the street of the penguins;
  2. in the second they were placed in a cardboard envelope with mirrors;
  3. in the third, labels were glued to the mirrors.

In the first experiment, the scientists placed mirrors in the path of the penguins and observed their reactions individually or in groups. However, in this case, the penguins did not react in any way: scientists believe that the birds perceived the reflection like other members of their species.

During the second test, the scientists built a cardboard maze in which they installed two mirrors. Scientists have found that penguins spent more time in front of their reflection, apparently studying it.


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The team found that the animals studied themselves by looking in the mirror.

Photo: Ministry of Earth Sciences/Government of India

In the third test, the scientists placed special stickers on mirrors that covered the eyes or part of the head. Scientists found that the birds began to get nervous and peck at the sticker, as if something bothered them. Scientists speculate that this behavioral motivation may indicate anxiety when they couldn’t see their own face.

penguin in the mirror


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The team saw flightless birds peck at the sticker as if they were excited

Photo: Ministry of Earth Sciences/Government of India

However, the researchers admit that this behavior could be caused by the discomfort caused by the inability to see the eyes of the reflection in the mirror. Although the study’s findings are mixed, the scientists still believe that the mirror test, coupled with Adélie penguins’ ability to immerse themselves in a complex social life, likely indicates that they have a sense of personal identity and subjective self-knowledge.

Previously Focus wrote it scientists explained why there are no green mammals in the world.

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