Monday, March 8, 2010

You have said NOTHING? Do Elephants have more self awareness than you do?

Recently the amazing intelligence of Elephants was realized when they were deemed to have "Self Awareness".

I think that is amazing !

I have always enjoyed and even fantasized about the intelligence of some of our closes animal friends; primates, dolphins, and now elephants.

So my challenge to you is;
Why are elephants more self aware and intersted in self perception than you are?

Or you would have at least told me I am nuts, my blog is a bunch of crap, or "hey, why don't you and your elephant examine and discuss your self awareness together. lol !

Here is and excerpt and the address to the article if you would like to read more.

Now, we can add elephants to the very short list of animals besides humans with self-awareness.

Researchers (Plotnik, et al, reporting in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science ) working with Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) at the Bronx zoo, conducted an MSR test. They applied “real” and “sham” marks to the rights sides of the pachyderms’ heads and waited to see how the elephants would respond to these when a large mirror was placed in their presence. Sure enough, the elephants demonstrated that they understood they were looking at themselves (and not another elephant) and begin touching the marks with their trunks. In all, their behavior during the MSR tests matched those of apes and dolphins. According to the paper’s authors: “These parallels suggest convergent cognitive evolution most likely related to complex sociality and cooperation. ”

The intelligence of elephants has long been known (though tribal lore, and from field observations) and established. They have complex social lives and relations and do indeed have excellent memories. Also, a full grown male’s brain may weigh 14 pounds (the actual measure of “intelligence” is brains size to body mass ratio). It is believed that the size (relative to body size) and structure of our larger, more recently evolved brains enables higher states of conscious perception (such as self awareness). The animals tested here all possess large brains–some, like the dolphin and elephant, larger than our human ones. Each has a cerebral cortex (the outer-most layer of brain matter, known as the neomammalian brain), although this is quite small in the gorilla as compared to humans.

But we humans are not just self aware, we are aware that we are aware. We express this “higher” form of awareness primarily through speaking (e.g., Isn’t this a strange conversation that we’re having?) or through symbolic manipulation and recursion (e.g., “This statement is false.”) This is called meta-awareness*, and so far, it has not been found outside of our species.

1 comment:

  1. I think you may like this short Ted talk: