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Are ants capable of self recognition? [pdf] (journalofscience.net)
34 points by randomwalker on Jan 16, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 9 comments

Be aware that this journal is published by Pharma Intelligence[0], which is with high certainty a predatory publisher. I would take this article with a large grain of salt, as it's authors have not been able to get the research published by a proper journal.

[0] http://scholarlyoa.com/2015/08/27/open-access-journal-provid...

The key bit from the abstract:

As long as they could not see themselves in a mirror, ants with a blue dot painted on their clypeus did not try to remove it. Set in front of a mirror, ants with such a blue dot on their clypeus tried to clean themselves, while ants with a brown painted dot — of the same color as that of their cuticle — on their clypeus and ants with a blue dot on their occiput did not clean themselves. Very young ants did not present such behavior.

And from the conclusion:

Briefly, if an animal detains self recognition ability, it will recognize itself in a mirror and will try to clean the alien colored spot it bears. The inverse is not always true: if an animal clean itself in front of a mirror, it might do so without recognizing itself. So, on the basis that ants conspicuously marked on their clypeus clean themselves while ants marked otherwise do not, both only after having been in front of a mirror, it can be presumed (but not yet asserted) that, for the Myrmica species presently tested, and for individuals of a given age, self recognition is not impossible.

I am not a scientist of any field, but the above sort of made me think twice. They used a mirror. I would think, just by virtue of the ant seeing something in a mirror and being able to deduce "hey, that is me, there is something up with my swag here, I better freshen up a bit". That ant not only determined based on the looks of others, compared it to himself in a reflection, and made the decision it was wrong enough to attempt to remove it. Can I further think they can tell the difference from say, an "ant birthmark" and just paint? If so, I am pretty shocked at just how self aware they appear to be.

Doing this kind of science is so easy. Do the experiment, film the whole thing, leave the footage untouched, point to the timestamp where stuff happens, and voila, repeat the experiment and everyone will try to reproduce it.

Instead of providing anecdotal evidence, fabricated data, and being a scientist that spends time on saying that radiation from mobile technologies is harmful, despite microwaves you use to heat up your food irradiating you more in that frequency range, or sun, blasting you with even more radiation.

It's so easy to be a scientist, especially if you have government funding like the authors do. But for some reason, they decide to spend their entire lives doing nothing of quality, doing nothing meaningful.

Yes, we people invented terms like consciousness, self-awareness, intelligent behavior. Yes, these things are used to put stuff on a scale when they shouldn't be (if we agree that the evidence for theory of evolution is convincing), and that is not good, and yes I do understand the motivation of the authors. But really, doing good science, especially for these types of things is not really hard.

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches Had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches Had none upon thars.

Those stars weren't so big. They were really so small You might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches Would brag, "We're the best kind of Sneetch on the Beaches."


That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day, The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.

Better question is whether humans are capable of self-recognition without false positives/negatives.

How is that the better question?

Well, I suppose you could argue either way, but I think it's a better question in the sense that humans are going to be used as a control group by most people that follow pop science, and they're going to make assumptions that humans have this ability innately (I imagine development psychology has some degree of understanding for this already). Most discussion about this is going to be comparing the results to something else. Then there are questions like, could someone tell themselves apart from an identical twin without error?

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