GrrlScientist writes: Birds have been disparaged publicly as “bird brains” for so long that most people have lost the ability to view them as intelligent and sentient beings. However, a group of researchers in Germany have conducted a series of studies with several captive European magpies, Pica pica, that challenge the average person’s view of birds and their cognitive abilities.
It is widely accepted in the scientific community that self-awareness is prerequisite for the development of consciousness. Previously, only mammals — humans and several of their cousins, chimpanzees and orangutans, as well as dolphins and elephants — were observed to have self-awareness by demonstrating that they could recognize themselves in a mirror.
However, a new study by a research group in Germany reveals that birds apparently also evolved self-recognition.
“[Our research] shows that the line leading to humans is not as special as many thought,” pointed out lead researcher Helmut Prior of the Institute of Psychology at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.
To do their research, Prior and his colleagues carried out a series of tests with five hand-raised European magpies. [Continue reading…]