The ability to recognize our reflection in the mirror, to identify ourselves, only seems to us a familiar trifle. In reality, this is the privilege of highly developed creatures, which include monkeys, dolphins, elephants and several species of birds. Even humans only acquire this ability from 15 months of age, but recently scientists have discovered it in fish as well.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute, University of Constanta and Osaka City University selected the cleaner wrasse species as their experimental fish. They are good at distinguishing foreign things on the bodies of other fish and remove them, but can the fish do the same with itself? To do this, they put bright dots with paint in such places so that they could only be seen in the reflection in the mirror. All the fish were painted in different ways and began to be observed.
It turned out that the fish instantly notice the marks and begin to rub against stones and other objects in an attempt to get rid of them. And then they check the result in the mirror and do not confuse themselves with other individuals. Scientists replaced the paint with transparent varnish and the fish stopped cleaning themselves - this suggests that they react to changes in appearance, and not to the fact of marking. Further more, scientists put marks on the mirror or replaced it with transparent glass, placing on one side of the fish with marks, and on the other without. And in all these cases, the wrasses did not react when the paint was not on them, making no mistakes.
The conclusions of the experiment are contradictory, scientists in their mass refuse to recognize the existence of self-awareness in fish. Yes, they recognize their own reflection in the mirror, but isn't this the result of some unknown mechanisms based on naked instincts? Well, then it's even worse - the test with the mirror itself, the ability to determine the presence of self-awareness in animals in this way, is questioned.