Mirror recognition by GPO?

Discussion in 'Behavior and Intelligence' started by nanoteuthis, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    I'm posting this to the Physiology and Biology Forum because there doesn't seem to be a specific forum for behavior and psychology.

    On a recent nature show -- whose name I unfortunately don't recall -- I saw a mind-blowing example of cephalopod intelligence. A diver made a few visits to a GPO in the area of her sea-floor den (I believe it was a female), and decided to try a psychological experiment. He brought down a large mirror, and when the GPO approached him, he showed her the mirror.

    Having seen a nature show in which a male Cuttlefish made escalating aggression displays to his image in a mirror (thinking it was another male), I fully expected the GPO to react to her reflection as if it were another GPO.... as did the diver.

    We were both wrong. After reaching out to the mirror and touching it briefly, the GPO actually extended her arms around the mirror and began to explore behind it, as if she knew full well that this was some sort of artificial device rather than another GPO!

    This freaked me out completely. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know even dogs and cats react to their reflections as if they are other individuals of the same species. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the only other species who recognize their reflections as reflections are great apes and dolphins.

    Has anyone else here seen the nature show I refer to, or might be familiar with this experiment on a GPO? If so, do you think this experiment implies that the GPO may be intellectually superior to most mammals in the specific case of mirror-reflection recognition?

    Still amazed by this footage....

    Tani
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Tani,
    It may have something to do with the way the octopus sees (physically) rather than intelligence. The reflection may not even look like another octopus to her. Several people have considered adding a mirror to observe behavior but I don't recall anyone actually doing it. Thales?
     
  3. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Intelligence is a peculiar characteristic in the animal kingdom. We tend to think that higher animals such as primates are much more intelligent than lower animals such as snails.

    There was a post about intelligence on another cephalopod list serve yesterday. The question was exploring actual definitions of intelligence. Depending on your definition, intelligence can change. Who is to stay roaches are not intelligent?? They behave exactly as they should in order to survive and have so for millions and millions and millions of years.

    I am not really sure what definition of intelligence I would subscribe to. Some jellyfish release their eggs and sperm when under stressful conditions as a defense mechanism. Intelligent?

    As for the question, I would not label octopus as intellectual superiors to mammals solely on this mirror experiment. Cuttlefish have elaborate mating rituals. Would it not be more intelligent to flash these displays at any sign of a conspecific rather than risk an altercation by exploring the individual closer.

    The video does sound interesting and I wish I would have seen it.

    Greg
    (probably more than you wanted to hear) :sleeping:
     
  4. Emily182

    Emily182 Cuttlefish Registered

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    Very interesting. I'm not sure what to think of this but, I agree with the posters above me.
     
  5. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    http://www.polarization.com/octopus/octopus.html describes how cuttles react to mirrors, for what that's worth.

    I'm not a big believer in some absolute measure of intelligence, but I do think cephs stand out among molluscs and invertebrates in general (although the stomatopod, bee, and jumping spider fans all come out of the woodwork when I say they're the "only" intelligent inverts). I guess the types of learning are often used as guidelines, and in that regard they seem to do comparably to most vertebrates, which is impressive.

    To me, what's interesting is not so much an absolute comparison of "is an octo as smart as a rat? a cat? a monkey?" sorts of questions, but rather that an octopus is evolutionarily quite distant from most of the animals that show sophisticated learning behaviors, so their nervous systems have taken a rather different path even than the smart arthropods; the last common ancestor cephs have with anything "smart" was probably some sort of worm. So asking "how do cephs do what they do, and in what ways is that similar to or different from other smart animals?" is the question that fascinates me, since it gives us an opportunity to observe what things developed in common in convergent evolution to intelligent behavior, and also what mechanisms lead to similar (or different) intelligent behaviors but have a completely different underlying mechanism. If we understand both how our own brains work, and how completely different brains work to do similar tasks, we have a lot better chance of understanding the general principles of brains rather than being stuck in "because this is the way our brains do this, this is the best/only way" assumptions.
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Monty,
    Any chance you are a James White, Sector General fan?
     
  7. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Perhaps we're groping with the difference between sapience and sentience here??????

    Sentience refers to utilization of sensory organs, the ability to feel or perceive subjectively, not necessarily including the faculty of self-awareness. The possession of sapience is not a necessity.

    Sapience usually defined as wisdom or discernment, is the ability of an organism or entity to act with judgment.

    my :twocents: :grin:

    J
     
  8. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    does learning fall under sentience or sapience? Is sentience only hardwired stimulus-response, or can it include adaptive behaviors?
     
  9. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    The ability to learn often coincides with animals of higher intelligence. Thus, the ability to adapt is correlated to the animal's ability to learn. WHY??

    Many animals can adapt to their environment without learning how. A bull shark did not learn how to enter freshwater, the shark was able to evolve. Few people would label sharks as intelligent animals. They have been around for millions of years with the same basic body plan and are built perfectly for the ocean. It seems that instinct is often over-looked for animals that can use 'tools' in their everyday life.

    The ability to learn is a secondary by-product of over-sized brains. These over-sized brains then require increased blood flow and energy to keep functioning correctly. (has anyone read Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos??)

    Certainly not a topic that can be answered easily. While all organisms are evolving at different rate, some creatures have remained the same for millions of years. Perhaps these animals are the most intelligent of all...

    Greg
     
  10. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    Learning is one way of having an organism adapt to its environment, as is natural selection. But learning allows the individual animal to adapt over the course of its lifetime, while selection while natural selection operates on the population over the course of many generations. When generations are really fast, like in bacteria or fruit flies, sometimes that can lead to rapid changes, but for animals with longer lives, learning is a more rapid way to adapt, if maybe less directly correlated to survival (the individual doesn't learn from fatal mistakes... but "that which does not kill you makes you stronger" sometimes applies.) In animals that teach their offspring or learn things by observing conspecifics, it's sort of more Lamarckian than Darwinian, too, which is sort of interesting... "Lamarckian Memetics" or something. Of course, there are other organism-level adaptations that are not learning in the neurbiology sense, like the immune system "learning" about a pathogen and then attacking it if it's encountered again (and having a diverse pool of immune markers is a population-level adaptation of the gene pool for disease resistance, which is more Darwinian at that level.)
     
  11. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Monty-san,

    I checked out the description, but that isn't the same reaction as what I saw on an earlier nature show. In the one I refer to, the subject of the experiment was a male Aussie Giant Cuttle in its natural habitat, and it was displaying furiously and aggressively at the perceived "rival male" in the mirror -- I believe the diver finally took the mirror away when he (she?) feared that the AGC would injure himself attacking the mirror.

    So I can only assume the description on the link refers to one of the smaller species. Interesting, though....

    Aha! As a firm believer in learning something new every day, thank you for my Daily Something New :cool:

    Had no idea what a Stomatopod was, so I went straight to Google and I found the following neat link:

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/aquarius/

    [Bluidy "insert link" button doesn't work - GEEK NEEDED!] :banghead:

    Pretty critters! I'll try to learn more about them.

    I've heard of Jumping Spiders, but what do they do that's special?

    As for Honeybees.... I am a great admirer! Aside from the fact that they graciously manufacture my fav tea additive, we appear to have some sort of unspoken agreement: I don't swat at them and they leave me alone even when I walk through a bustling swarm of 'em, having done so many times at Bronx's Wave Hill, back when they had an active Honeybee colony.

    (Bumblebees are another story -- I was once stung on the upper lip by an apparently psychotic specimen who literally flew straight into my face while I was walking through a garden minding my own beeswax.)

    But anyway, Honeybees appear to be a special case -- their intelligence can be described as of a "corporate" nature, i.e., the entire colony functions as an intelligent superorganism, while each individual Honeybee is, in effect, a cell of that superorganism. So if you take the entire colony as an individual.... yes, that is one incredibly smart individual. (I assume the same can be said for certain Ant, Termite, and Naked Mole Rat colonies.)

    I understand what you're saying here. Which is why -- Greg-san, please note -- when I said "intellectually superior to most mammals," I qualified it as referring to "the specific case of mirror-reflection recognition." I realize that we're talking about a very different way of perceiving the world.... one which involves (please correct me if I'm wrong) processing collected sense data in the same sense organ used to collect that data (i.e., the arms).... which would be analogous to our having, say, auxiliary cerebra in each of our fingers.

    So of course talking about Ceph intelligence in the same breath as mammal intelligence is comparing apples and oranges.

    DWhatley's comment about how the GPO perceived the reflection is an interesting one. Taking the differing manner of processing sense-data into consideration, it is possible that the GPO was collecting and processing data about the mirror with its arms. But I still contend that this is a helluva lot more (can't think of any other word) "intelligent" -- or at least prudent -- than the headstrong AGC who immediately assumed the reflection was a rival rather than first investigating the nature of what he saw.

    Which of course leads to another question: Do Cuttles and Squid have the same built-in neurological mechanism as Octos for processing collected sense data in their arms? (I'm leaving out Nautilus because I assume their physiology is a lot more primitive.... but I could be wrong about that too.)

    Would be interested to hear more comments on any or all of the above -- and thanks for your comments so far!

    From the inquiring (if slightly corroded :bonk:)
    mind of your benthic buddy,
    TANIWHA-WHEKE
     
  12. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    What would you all suggest for further reading on the subject of intelligence?

    And I believe the video (an hour long program on Animal Planet) was Octopus Volcano, which was about O. vulgaris who lived on the slopes of an active volcano.

    They showed one of these octopuses a big mirror, and it looked at it's iimage, then felt around the back to see what was going on.

    Nancy
     
  13. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    for cephalopods, I recommend Hanlon & Messenger Cephalopod Behavior, Wells Octopus, and maybe Moynihan Communication and Non-Communication in Cephalopods and maybe Nixon & Young Brains and Lives of Cephalopods. For intelligence in general, Allman's Evolving Brains is the book Allman wrote on the very inspiring class I took from him. Um, there were some texts from my "Philosophy of Mind and Psychology" class but I didn't like most of them enough to recommend them... Prete's Complex Worlds from Simpler Nervous Systems has a number of interesting papers I like, including most of the species I mentioned above (stomatopods, honeybees, cephs, mantises, etc.) although it's mostly about vision and sensory systems than about intelligence per se. I like some of Terry Sejnowski's books, but they tend to be more about neuroscience and humans, and similarly V.S. Ramachandran and Oliver Sacks have some interesting insights, but they're more about humans in particular than assessing intelligence in animals.

    Oh, and Tani, if you want to know about stomatopods, ask Roy, he's a world-class expert on them... Neogonodactylus is a type of stomatopod... jumping spiders show some sophisticated learning and maybe imitating behaviors, but I forget the details.
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Monty,
    Are you sure Neogonodactylus is an actual shrimp? I tried looking it up on the internet and couldn't find it so I broke the word down and conjectured Roy was calling himself a "new kind of stomatopod" rather than taking the name of an existing one :wink:
     
  15. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    Yup:

    http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=682488

    They don't have a TOLweb entry, though.
     
  16. steenmillinder

    steenmillinder Cuttlefish Registered

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    inteligence when undefined is unmeasureble, still i think many of us have a 'gut feeling' of what we find as inteligent, if it reminds us of us it's inteligent?

    Take a dog, to perspectives; some se dog as being smart because the person watching thinks he/she can se the emotional state of a dog happy, angry, jealus and so on, and can bribe it to do tricks. No one can tap into the dogs awareness and do a reading of how big the spark of awereness may be, or even if that correlates with inteligens(what ever it is), it's still a subjective judgement.
    A person watching the same dog my se the dog a being stupid, because of the limitations a dog may show to have, for example lack of speach, or looking a the pointed finger rather then looking in the direktion of the finger, og barking at the ball you threw at it, and not barking at you, the lack of understandig the human term causality. So this second individual may regard the dog as being stupid, because unwittingly the dog is being compared to a human. So one could state that the dog is smart enough to seem stupid, because it is smart enougt to be seen in the reference frame of man.

    I think few whould compare a mantis to a human in the same way as a dog(wittingly or unwittingly), and could be labeled as smart becouse it (maybe by cance) found a weak spot in a shell a smashed it there(i'm gettig a spec. tank for a peacock, absolutly facinating animal!).

    As of brains and designs, if one taks sharks and birds, sharks have quite an impressive brain to total bodymass ratio.
    White sharks employ different hunting tecniques depending on what and whare they eat, jumping out of water to cath seal near cape town but doing it close to nowhare else, lerned or inherited?
    Birds, compleatly different brain design compared to mamals, they have no cortex, but have 'islands' or nerve cell clusters trough out the brain with the axons and dendrites stiking out(read it in illustreret videnskab).
    Crows and ravens are by eksperiment known to pic a peace og steal thread form a wide range of materials, of appropriate leangth, and bending it into a hook and picking out food, never being shown any of this. Or as stated in the journal nature 22. feb. 2007(or just the podcast)how a scrubjay can remember and plan for the future(she mentions a the cortex thoug, conflicts whith brain sructure i described before, maybe they have both?), there is also the naked scientists podcast(06.05.07) on annimal behavior.

    A brain is the most energy hungry organ per mass, so if it's big, it eats a lot! if it eats a lot, it better make up for it in other ways, in other words it's being used for information processing that in the past helped your parrents to survive long enough to conceive you, and the familiy line of smarty pants' goes on for now... hopfully to make kids with other smarty pants, and making even smarter kids and so on... unless the evirment dictates that streangth or some other trait be more faverable...

    Is pure information processing potetial equevelant to inteligence? does the information processing have to envolve the usige of stored data to be inteligence, in other words, do you have to remember to be smart?
    I personally find my selv looking at the processing potential when trying to evaluate the inteligens of somthing, i whuold not call a brittle star inteligent though it probably is of ancient design...

    I think it is much in the eyes of the beholder. I do not personaly know what to make of the mirror experiment other then i find very facinating, i whould like to se a broader set of different experiments replicated on a larger number of specimens, before drawing anything that resembles a conclusion.

    It was kinda more coherent in my head, and excuse my spelling, engilsh is my third language, not that i'm much better at spelling in danish or polish, im better at numbers at greek letters :nyah:. I think i use to many commas for english...
     
  17. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Roy had an interesting post on reef central discussing intelligence of an octopus vs a mantis shrimp (the post is quite old but Roy was voting for the mantis). He presented an interesting criteria for the comparision which included memory and socialization. Unfortunately, when I went to find the thread, Reef Central decided to do backups.
     
  18. steenmillinder

    steenmillinder Cuttlefish Registered

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    cool!... i whold realy like to read it, i find both animals so facinating, want to keep both, in seperate tanks ofcourse...
     
  19. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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    I found it to be quite coherent, and certainly interesting. Considering that most of us only speak one language, and far too many of us don't spell well in the one language we speak, I think you will be forgiven for making a few spelling mistakes in your third language. :smile:
    By the way, :welcome: to Tonmo.
     
  20. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    I'm very impressed by your grammar and coherence, too. I have less trouble with your spelling quirks than other posters' incoherent grammar and not-quite-making-sense styles of writing. I'm guessing from your eloquence at phrasing that you speak English very well, but haven't done as much reading and writing... I don't know if it would help, but the google toolbar has a spell-checker that will underline misspellings in red, which helps me catch mistakes often (although it's pretty conservative about marking foreign words, technical terms, slang, jargon, etc, also, so I've had to add things like Mesonychoteuthis and Spirula to its dictionary....) Of course, I probably shouldn't give advice, because I quit my Russian class just at the stage of learning the alphabet... I do OK in French sometimes, though...

    Anyway, I said it elsewhere, but :welcome: to TONMO, and I'm far more impressed by your eloquent thoughts than I am confused by your spelling...
     

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