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Surprising Science

New Species of Monkey Is Self-Aware

“Experiments on monkeys suggest that the animals can recognise and react to their own image in a mirror. They altered their posture to look at their own genitals.”

“The rhesus macaques studied in the experiments may be telling us that the current ‘gold standard’ test for self-awareness is not sensitive enough to identify all animals that are self-aware—although the method is steeped in controversy. Evidence for self-awareness has so far been restricted to an elite including humans, chimpanzees, orang-utans, bonobos, gorillas, elephants, dolphins and, possibly, magpies. All these animals pass the so-called ‘mark test’, in which they are put to sleep, daubed with a spot of dye on the face to alter their appearance, then woken to see if they notice and react to the mark when they see it in a mirror.”


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