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Dolphins may seek selves in mirror images

12:44pm, May 2, 2001

In Greek mythology, the lad Narcissus wasted away because he couldn't bear to stop staring at his reflection in a pool of water. Although people have a stranglehold on such narcissistic pursuits, dolphins recognize their own reflections much as folks do, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the May 8 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, support a theory that the neural capacity for at least a basic type of self-awareness evolved separately in dolphins and humans.

"We've documented a level of self-awareness in bottlenose dolphins that occurs rarely in the animal world," says psychobiologist Diana Reiss of Columbia University. Reiss conducted the new experiments with psychologist Lori Marino of Emory University in Atlanta.

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