Animals are More Self Aware than was Previously Thought

Brand new studies are recently indicating that animals seem to be smarter than people originally thought. It was discovered that dogs truly do have social abilities and very advanced cognitive behaviors. Scientists have actually learned that wild African dogs conduct votes by sneezing.

Hypothetical Testing of Dogs

The question become just what amount of self-awareness do these dogs really have? Dr. Alexandra Horowitz who is a psychologist from Bernard’s College in New York, was curious to find these out. She and her associates tested a hypothesis that was proposed by Italian biologist Prof. Roberto Cazzolla Gatti who comes from the Russian Tomsk State University. Horowitz and his associates performed two experiments at Bernand’s Dog Cognitive Lab.  

There is a very famous test of self-awareness which is known as the mirror test. Since the 1970s, the scientists have been utilizing this test. You simply get a mirror and then observe a subject reacts to the mirror. If subjects touch themselves instead of the mirror, then the animal is deemed as being self-aware. Orangutan and bonobos tend to recognize themselves in the mirror, and so do dolphins. However, thus far, we are stilling trying to determine status of chimpanzees. And dogs will typically bark at the mirror, mostly thinking it is another dog.

Assessing the Results

The major innovation from all this about dogs is how they navigate through their environment using their amazing sense of smell. So rather than using a standard visual mirror, Horowitz and his associates created an olfactory one. These discovering have been were posted in the publication Behavioural Processes.

Back in 2001, a biologist name Marc Bekoff couldn’t help but notice while taking dog Jethro for his daily walk that his dog was much more interested in the scent from the urine of other dogs than his own urine. This must indicate that Jethro already knew what his urine smelled like. Bekoff then performed his very own study across five straight winters.

He purposely moved around the urine from Jethro and those belonging to other dogs to determine exactly what his dog would recognize and what he did not recognize. This study has been called the infamous “yellow snow” study. Bekoff determined Jethro “clearly had some sense of ‘self’: a sense of ‘mine-ness’ but not necessarily of ‘I-ness’.”

Dr. Horowitz took this notion and extended it as he borrowed from both Bekoff and Prof. Cazzolla Gatti. The latter study that was conducted in 2016 has been proposed as the “Sniff test of self-recognition (STSR).” Horowitz actually conducted two experiments. In the first of these studies, she gathered 36 dogs as well as their owners. They let these dogs run free to see if they would stop to smell any of the three canisters that were contained within their penned-in area.

One of these canisters possessed their own urine, the second one has the urine of another dog, and then the third one had their urine again but with an additional scent that had been added in. Experiment number two used just 12 dogs and modified the third urine canister to have scent that was more neutral. In both of these experiments, it was discovered that the very last canister drew the most interest from the dogs.

There is also a modification of this mirror test which is called the mark test. If there is a mark put on a mirror, a bonobo will actually try to remove the mark from his own face. This action actually indicated more self-awareness. These animals know how they are supposed to look, they know when something is wrong, and they know it can be fixed.