Read aloud Capuchin monkeys do not recognize themselves like apes in a mirror. The monkeys do not think the picture is a rival either. American scientists have observed this when they showed the animals either real conspecifics or a mirror. In their experiments, the researchers Prized Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus apella) exposed three different situations: they were juxtaposed with a same-sex known monkey, a same-sex unknown monkey, and finally their own mirror image. The true monkeys were behind a plexiglass disc, so they could not touch.

All monkeys behaved differently to the mirror image than to an actual conspecific. The confirmed observers saw the reactions of the monkeys on video without first knowing which of the three situations the animals were facing. The difference in behavior was clear: male monkeys kept eye contact 11 times longer with their mirror image than with a foreign monkey, female monkeys 38 times longer. They literally flirted, which was expressed by a friendly cradle and lip smacking. On the other hand, they were a bit afraid of a stranger. The males were not always positively disposed to their image, but compared to a stranger, they often looked the mirror image in the eye, squeaking more often and showed less threatening gestures.

Scientists believe that all human-like monkeys such as chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas recognize themselves in the mirror. Besides, bottlenose dolphins are capable of doing that. In contrast, most of the other animals see in their image a conspecific, so that, for example, budgerigars with a mirror to communicate. The examined monkeys, which do not belong to the further developed superfamily of the humans, did not deceive the deception obviously. They realized that they were not dealing with a real monkey, but could not identify themselves in the mirror.

In the animal world, it is not relevant in itself, whether animals can recognize their reflection. But the experiments open up new insights into the self-understanding and perceptiveness of animals, the researchers report. display

Frans de Waal et al. (Emory University, Atlanta, USA): PNAS, DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.0503935102

ddp / Mareile Müller-Merbach


Recommended Editor'S Choice