Scientists from the University of Osaka (Japan) have discovered signs of self-awareness in a small tropical fish – labano-doctor (Labroides dimidiatus).
Fishes managed to pass the so-called mirror test – a classic test of self-awareness. It was first applied by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. (Gordon Gallup Jr.) in 1970. The sleeping animal is marked, so that it is visible only in the mirror. Next, we monitor the actions of the animal that has seen its reflection. In some cases, the behavior of the animal indicates an understanding that in the mirror is its reflection. For example, mammals tend to better consider the appeared mark and try to find it on themselves. So far, only a small number of animals have proved using a mirror test the presence of self-awareness. In addition to humans, this list includes chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, dolphins, elephants and pigeons. Some other species have shown controversial results.
Studying the gubans, scientists placed a mirror on one of the walls of the aquarium. As expected, the fish perceived their own reflection as a potential enemy, encroaching on their territory, and tried to attack their own reflections. However, after the fish have become accustomed to the mirror, their behavior has changed. The gubans began to turn in front of the mirror, as if watching themselves. After that, the scientists applied small marks to the heads of fish and found that the lips began to spend even more time with the mirror, and some even tried to erase the tags in the only available way – rubbing against the aquarium soil.