Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Small Bird.. Magpies Have the Best Brain !

We all know that other that human, few other mammals have intellectual prowess to recognize self. This faculty is gifted by nature to apes, elephants and dolphins were known so far. Surprisingly recently it has been observed that a small species, non mammal, a bird, the magpies have the same prowess. They too can recognize themselves in a mirrors or where ever their image is reflected. Self recognition is considered to be one of the skills of highly developed brains. It is observed that these birds can recognize themselves like chimpanzee despite being separated from mammals from 300 million years of evolutionary history.
Helmut Prior, of Goethe University in Frakfurt, says the findings demonstrate that the ability to recognize a reflection as you self, rather than seeing it as another individual, does not necessarily depend on the sophisticated mammalian brain. “Our findings provide the first Malian species” he says. “They suggest that essential components of human self-recognition have evolved independently in different vertebrate classes with a separate evolutionary history”. Dr. Prior and colleagues from Ruhr-University Bochum tested the magpie`s self-discriminatory powers in experiments involving five magpies marked with colored dots on their throats, which could only be seen by looking at their own reflection. Two of the magpies – named Gertie and Goldie – quickly learnt that the image they could see in a mirror placed in their cages was of themselves and tried to dislodge the colored dots they could see on their throat feathers. The “mark test” is frequently used as an indicator of self-recognition in animals and yang children as , if done properly, there is only one way the individual can see that the mark is on themselves rather than someone else. “A crucial step in the emergence of self-recognition is the understanding that one`s own mirror reflection does not represent another individual but oneself”, says Dr Prior, whose study has been published in the online journal, Public Library of Science Biology. “Mirror self-recognition has been shown in apes and recently, in dolphins and elephants…. Using the mark test, we obtained evidence for mirror self-recognition in the European magpie, Pica Pica. This finding shows that elaborate cognitive skills arose independently in corvids (crow family) and primates, taxonomic groups with an evolutionary history and diverged about 300 million year ago. Observations suggest that magpies are as intelligent as crows, even better than any other birds with this faculty.

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