Are monkeys self-aware?

New results suggest that rhesus macaques recognize themselves in the mirror, but the debate is far from over

Vanessa Schipani
Sep 29, 2010
Rhesus monkeys may recognize their own reflection in a mirror, indicating self-awareness--a trait traditionally reserved for humans, chimpanzees and orangutans and a topic of much debate among researchers, including linkurl:Marc Hauser,;http://harvardscience.harvard.edu/directory/researchers/marc-d-hauser professor of psychology at Harvard University and the recent subject of misconduct investigations.
Rhesus monkey
Image: Wikimedia commons, user 13bobby
The linkurl:results,;http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0012865 published in the September 29th issue of PLoS ONE, question the existence of a stark cognitive divide that separates higher primates from the rest of the animal kingdom."In most instances, monkeys do not show [self-awareness]," linkurl:Christopher Coe,;http://aging.wisc.edu/research/affil.php?Ident=14 director of the Harlow Primate Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the work, said in an email to The Scientist. But the new study "indicates that rhesus monkeys can acquire this ability in the right setting and with the right tools."For years, the Gallup mark test has been the standard method for assessing...
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)American Journal of PrimatologyPNASCognition
This movie shows a monkey waking up from a nap, reaching for the small mirror outside his cage, positioning it to view himself, and grooming the area around the implant while looking at himself. The view of the head implant has been blocked for discretion.
Video courtesy of Luis Populin.
The Scientist.