Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

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Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:26 am UTC

https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-self-a ... -20181212/

The mirror test is a classic psychology test for self-awareness. All you have to do is let the animal examine a mirror for a long time and then put a mark on it. Iff it acts differently than normal when it sees the mark in the mirror, then the animal passes. Most animals touch the mark to try and remove it/ figure out what it is. Cleaner Wrasse obviously cannot do this. Instead they rubbed the marked part on the sand, which is a behavior commonly done to remove attached parasites. As is always the case in science, there is debate on if this behavior qualifies as passing the mirror test and what it truly means if it does.

Personally, I believe that the cleaner wrasse did pass the mirror test, but the mirror test does not test for some cognitive aspect other than self-awareness. I would call the property tested for indirect self observation. A more fundamental problem I have with the mirror test is that it assumes that a self-aware animal will care about marks on its body.
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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:31 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:but the mirror test does not test for some cognitive aspect other than self-awareness.
Is this what you meant to type? From the (report of the) paper, it seems to me that it does test for self-awareness. It seems reasonable that self-awareness is on a spectrum, and not a binary quality. And yes, animals that don't care about marks on their bodies would probably not react, even if they were self-aware, so doesn't prove a negative.

"Indirect self-observation" requires a sense of self in order to be properly interpreted. So self-awareness is necessary to useful indirect self-observation.

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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:31 pm UTC

Oops, I meant to type "but the mirror test does not test for self-awareness." :oops:

You are correct that the general consensus is that the mirror test does test for self-awareness. I think however that it tests for a different cognitive property that is necessary, but not sufficient, for self-awareness.
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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:48 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:You are correct that the general consensus is that the mirror test does test for self-awareness. I think however that it tests for a different cognitive property that is necessary, but not sufficient, for self-awareness.
Why? It's fine to take a position, but if you want to convince anybody that it's valid, you need to defend it with reasoning.

How do you define "self awareness"? Do you think of it as a binary property, or a spectrum? What consequences would "self awareness" have?

Given that not all creatures care about lines on themselves, the mirror test might not be a good general test (it will find false negatives), but a positive result would certainly imply that this particular creature cared about lines on themselves and recognized themselves in the mirror. If you think not, why not?

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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby idonno » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:22 pm UTC

It probably depends on what exactly you mean by self aware. If I make a robot that can take advantage of reflections to clean itself, does that automatically mean it is self aware? If yes, self awareness is trivially within the grasp of current technology. If no, is there any reason to believe evolution can't produce something that performs a similar process?

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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:44 pm UTC

idonno wrote:It probably depends on what exactly you mean by self aware. If I make a robot that can take advantage of reflections to clean itself, does that automatically mean it is self aware? If yes, self awareness is trivially within the grasp of current technology. If no, is there any reason to believe evolution can't produce something that performs a similar process?


What is the evolutionary advantage to self-cleaning for a bundle of instinctual processes that is never in a situation to see it's reflection, like an underwater creature?
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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby idonno » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:52 pm UTC

First off, it doesn't have to call this specific request to call the quality of the test into question. Secondly, if the robot can take a new input and figure out what it tells it about its body, does that make it self aware? Adapting to new sources of information seems is a pretty useful evolutionary trait.

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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:06 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:What is the evolutionary advantage to self-cleaning for a bundle of instinctual processes that is never in a situation to see it's reflection, like an underwater creature?
Could be an extension of the "don't get needlessly frightened of one's own shadow, but do get frightened of other shadows that are not one's own and might signal danger".

Self associating a wide range of visual phenomenon with the actions oneself makes could be useful, in fact, of which a literal mirror might just be a rare extreme version. There may be also circumstances in which a water-air interface provides a Total Internal Reflection image. Or in a social group the reflection from the eye-membrane might let you sort of "see yourself as others see you" and inform you quite a bit of how much (or not) you look like your shoal-mates, give or take the distortion. And as a fish that regularly busies itself around much larger fish/sharks/etc, I imagine their eyes would make for not infrequent mirrors of closer-to-planar quality, whilst busying themselves around the head. It'd be a good idea to know that was you, not a fellow wrasse somehow trapped in there, perhaps.

I speculate, but there seem quite a few borderline possibilities that might be worth studying further. Somehow.

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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:18 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:What is the evolutionary advantage to self-cleaning for a bundle of instinctual processes that is never in a situation to see it's reflection, like an underwater creature?

The article is about "Do this species of fish have self-awareness?" while your post is about, "Why would this species of fish have self-awareness?" Although both are valid questions, they are distinct from one another and should not be confused.
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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby Sizik » Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:04 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Most animals touch the mark to try and remove it/ figure out what it is.


I think it should be noted that this isn't true.

wikipedia wrote:Very few species have passed the [mirror self-recognition] test. As of 2016, only great apes (including humans), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins, orcas, Giant oceanic manta rays and the Eurasian magpie have passed the MSR test. A wide range of species have been reported to fail the test, including several species of monkey, giant pandas, sea lions, and dogs.
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King Author wrote:If space (rather, distance) is an illusion, it'd be possible for one meta-me to experience both body's sensory inputs.
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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:10 pm UTC

Sorry for not being clearer. I meant "of the animals that touch the mark, the majority due so in order to try and remove it/ figure out what it is," not "most animals do touch the mark and their reason for doing so is to try and remove it/ figure out what it is."
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Re: Cleaner Wrasse may be the First Fish Species to Pass the Mirror Test

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:11 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:What is the evolutionary advantage to self-cleaning for a bundle of instinctual processes that is never in a situation to see it's reflection, like an underwater creature?

The article is about "Do this species of fish have self-awareness?" while your post is about, "Why would this species of fish have self-awareness?" Although both are valid questions, they are distinct from one another and should not be confused.

It's almost like there's some context of the post I responded to and included in my post that changes the nature of what exactly was being said, to who, and why.
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