Self recognition property is rare in animals and only smart animals are able to pick up this peculiar habit and property but not instantly but after some time and but mostly all animals can't recognize themselves in mirror .

The mirror test is often used as a way of measuring whether animals possess self-awareness. But now that a species of fish—the cleaner wasse—has also spotted its reflection, some scientists are wondering if the mirror test says more about the way humans think than how, or if, animals experience their individual existence.

Alex Jordan, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, is one of the authors of a study on cleaner wasse consciousness to be published in the journal PLOS One. He and his colleagues conducted numerous tests that show the tropical reef fish does seem to recognize its reflection; when scientists added a colored mark to its body, the fish would even try to remove the mark upon catching sight of it in the mirror. Despite three years of resistance from neuroscientists and additional testing, the paper ultimately passed peer review. It seems to indicate that the clever fish species has some sense of self or individuality.

The legendary naturalist Charles Darwin believed that humans are not the only self-aware beings. In his theory of evolutionary continuity, he asserted that the differences among species come in degree rather than kind. So if humans display self-awareness, other animals most likely exhibit some form of this trait as well. In my own extensive work observing wild and domestic animals, I have indeed found that many exhibit different levels of self-awareness.

Being self-aware does not necessarily translate into a sense of what I call “I-ness.” When an animal sees its reflection, for instance, it may not understand “That's me!” in the same way as a human would, but it may know that its body is its own and does not belong to someone else. Examples of this type of self-knowledge abound. Many animals know where their body is in space when they run, jump or navigate as a hunting pack or a migrating flock. Animals may also display ownership over their food, territory, family and body parts.

Although there is no easy answer to the question of self-awareness in animals, this line of inquiry leads to some fascinating insights into who animals are, what they know and how they feel. We may not grasp the extent of their self-consciousness, but I believe that an animal's awareness of its body and property ultimately equates to a sense of self.


The mirror test—sometimes called the mark test, mirror self-recognition (MSR) test, red spot technique, or rouge test—is a behavioural technique developed in 1970 by American psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. as an attempt to determine whether an animal possesses the ability of visual self-recognition. The MSR test is the traditional method for attempting to measure self-awareness. However, agreement has been reached that animals can be self-aware in ways not measured by the mirror test, such as distinguishing between their own and others' songs and scents. Conversely, animals that can pass the MSR do not necessarily have self-awareness.

In the classic MSR test, an animal is anaesthetised and then marked (e.g., painted or a sticker attached) on an area of the body the animal cannot normally see. When the animal recovers from the anaesthetic, it is given access to a mirror. If the animal then touches or investigates the mark, it is taken as an indication that the animal perceives the reflected image as itself, rather than of another animal.

Very few species have passed the MSR test. Species that have include the great apes (including humans), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins, orcas, and the Eurasian magpie. A wide range of species has been reported to fail the test, including several species of monkeys, giant pandas, and sea lions.

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