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The Elephant in the Mirror --Is Me!

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:42 pm    Post subject: The Elephant in the Mirror --Is Me! Reply with quote

With all the emphasis on the Mirror Plane in Treeincarnation,
It's surely noteworthy that elephants have now been shown
to have the capacity to recognise themselves in the mirror.

Others species capable of this feat are humans, great apes
and dolphins. The capability in apes in understandable as
they are so close to humans. And the abilities of dolphins
seems appropriate for their role as Earth's watery symbols
of an empathetic intelligence.

But elephants?? What's the symbolism there?

I can't even begin to come up with reason.

And yet self-recognition in the Mirror Plane is clearly the
highest form of awareness and intelligence.

Any ideas??


First Evidence to Show Elephants Recognize Themselves In The Mirror

30th October 2006, Emory University Press Release

Elephants have joined a small, elite group of species--including humans, great apes and dolphins--that have the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror, according to a new finding by researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in New York.

This newly found presence of mirror self-recognition in elephants, previously predicted due to their well-known social complexity, is thought to relate to empathetic tendencies and the ability to distinguish oneself from others, a characteristic that evolved independently in several branches of animals, including primates such as humans.

This collaborative study by Yerkes researchers Joshua Plotnik and Frans de Waal, PhD, director of Yerkes' Living Links Center, and WCS researcher Diana Reiss, PhD, published in the early online edition of the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, was conducted as part of a wide array of cognitive and behavioral evolution research topics at Yerkes' Living Links Center.

"We see highly complex behaviors such as self awareness and self-other distinction in intelligent animals with well established social systems," said Plotnik. "The social complexity of the elephant, its well-known altruistic behavior and, of course, its huge brain, made the elephant a logical candidate species for testing in front of a mirror."

In the study, researchers exposed three female elephants housed at the Bronx Zoo in New York to a jumbo-sized mirror measuring eight feet high by eight feet wide inside the elephants' yard. During the exposure, the elephants tested their mirrored images by making repetitive body movements and using the mirror to inspect themselves, such as by moving their trunks to inspect the insides of their mouths, a part of the body they usually cannot see. Further, the animals did not react socially to their images, as many animals do, and did not seem to mistake their reflection for that of another elephant.

"Elephants have been tested in front of mirrors before, but previous studies used relatively small mirrors kept out of the elephants' reach," said Plotnik. "This study is the first to test the animals in front of a huge mirror they could touch, rub against and try to look behind."

One elephant also passed a standard test known as the mark test. Each elephant was marked with visible paint on its forehead—a place it could not see without a mirror—and also received a sham mark of colorless face paint. The sham mark controlled for tactile and odor cues to ensure touching the visible mark was due to seeing its reflection and not to the feel or smell of the paint. This test produced the same results as when great apes and human children are presented with the mark test.

"As a result of this study, the elephant now joins a cognitive elite among animals commensurate with its well-known complex social life and high level of intelligence," said de Waal. "Although elephants are far more distantly related to us than the great apes, they seem to have evolved similar social and cognitive capacities making complex social systems and intelligence part of this picture. These parallels between humans and elephants suggest a convergent cognitive evolution possibly related to complex sociality and cooperation."

Scientists have tested mirror self-recognition in a variety of animals other than humans and great apes, but invariably failed, with the exception of the bottlenose dolphin. "After the recent discovery that dolphins are capable of recognizing themselves in the mirror, elephants seemed the next logical species for testing," said Reiss. "Humans, great apes, dolphins and elephants, well known for their superior intelligence and complex social systems, are thought to possess the highest forms of empathy and altruism in the animal kingdom."

Further research on elephant cognition will be conducted by Yerkes' Living Links Center to explore topics in behavioral and cognitive evolution, specifically social complexity in Asian elephants, including cooperation and conflict resolution.

For more than seven decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University has been dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of primate biology, behavior, veterinary care and conservation, and to improving human health and well-being. Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health–funded national primate research centers, provides specialized scientific resources, expertise and training opportunities.

Recognized as a multidisciplinary research institute, the Yerkes Research Center is making landmark discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems. Research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for AIDS and malaria; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.


Last edited by Fintan on Wed Nov 08, 2006 10:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i read an interesting and touching article about Elephants promoting a new series of Natural World

Cameraman Martyn Colbeck had these things to say about the elephants he lived among:


Precious Bond

Grace is a very distinctive elephant. She only has one tusk and it's easy to recognise her, even from a distance. In 1991 she gave birth to a calf that we estimated to be about four months premature, The calf was pale and unable to stand and Grace and her immediate family were all clearly distressed. But what happened next was remarkable. In an attempt to get the calf out of the sun, Grace gently held it between trunk and tusk and then lifted it high in the air, making her way towards shade. It was an extraordinary example of maternal care, but sadly the calf died during the night.

However, that death revealed another feature of the elephant character - Grace stood over the body of the calf for four days, and it was very apparent that a form of mourning was taking place

Mother knows best

I first met Echo in 1990, after an 'introduction' by Cynthia Moss of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya - and our lives have been intertwined ever since. Our encounters have taught me a great deal about just how extraordinary elephants are, and yet, in many ways, the earliest 'meeting' remains the most memorable.

During the night of 27 February 1990 Echo gave birth to a male calf, but he was unable to straighten his front legs, and could only shuffle around on his knees. We were convinced he would suffer a slow, painful death, but Echo and her daughter, Enid, refused to give up on him.

They encouraged him to walk and waited as he shuffled behind them in an attempt to keep up. Over the next few days the calf's joints started to stretch, and on the third day he was finally able to stand for himself. It was incredibly moving and persuasive proof of the bond that exists between elephant family members.

New Beginnings

Almost all elephant births occur during the night and so are rarely seen. But I was lucky one cool, clear morning in early 1992, when a family emerged from a clump of trees. A female had become detached from the group and I noticed she was acting strangely. Within half an hour a lump appreared beneath her tail, and I realised she was about to give birth.

As soon as the calf was born the rest of the family came galloping over, screaming and trumpeting. It was an extraordinary celebration of elephant society. The matriarch pushed her way through the family group and, using her foot, carefully helped the calf to its feet. Within 15 minutes the calf, flanked by its family, was embarking on the long, complex life of the African elephant

Last edited by Nat on Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 2:33 am    Post subject: Re: The Elephant in the Mirror --Is Me! Reply with quote

The fact that its a 'small elite group' of only four, got me thinking of the
symbols associated with fourness. Its an important number as i'm
finding out... anyway, using the four elements (Fire, Earth, Air, Water)
you can gleam out some of the symbolic characteristics. So by looking at
the different species traits I got this;

The four elements have this mind/matter aspect to them.


Earth is the physical ineractions with environment. Structure, physical form. Sensation. (matter)

Elephants are the largest land animals, they have a lot of strenght and
have the perfect tools to allow then to manipulate their envoronment on a
large scale.

Elephants make pathways through the environment that are used by other
animals to access areas normally out of reach. The pathways have been
used by several generations of elephants, and today people are converting
many of them to paved roads.

Throughout the ages elephants were used as working animals and war
elephants, domestication of elephants dates back to ancient india.


Water relates to emotion, motion, motivation. Feeling. (matter)

Dolphins are of water and swim at great speed when hunting their prey.
They make emotional connections with humans and have a playful nature.

Dolphins are probably the only marine creatures that allow themselves to
be used as transport.


Air relates to Mental capability, problem solving, communication. Computing. (mind)

Primates. probably the most intelligent in the animal kingdom

Fire is the initiating Action, the Intent, spirit. Intuition. (mind)

Humans.... Cool


Maybe theres some symbolic significance to the elephant of the GOP too,
maybe they need some self recognition. Surprised Very Happy

~"“True observation begins when devoid of set patterns, and freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond systems.”"~
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps we need to look to Ganesh for the answer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesh
"There are two kinds of secrets: those we keep from others, and those we keep from ourselves." -Frank Warren
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