Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 17 News List

Elephants may be able to recognize themselves 大象能自我辨識?

A 34-year-old female Asian elephant in the Bronx Zoo named Happy showed researchers that elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, which is complex behavior that has only been seen in only a few other species.

In a 2005 experiment, Happy faced her reflection in an mirror and repeatedly used her trunk to touch an "X" painted above her eye.

The elephant could not have seen the mark except in her reflection.

"It seems to verify for us she definitely recognized herself in the mirror," said Joshua Plotnik, one of the researchers behind the study.

Still, two other zoo elephants, Maxine and Patty, failed to touch "X" mark on their heads in two runs of the experiment. But all three adult female elephants at the zoo behaved in ways that suggested they recognized themselves while in front of the jumbo mirror.

Maxine, for instance, used the tip of her trunk to touch the inside of her mouth while facing the mirror. She also used her trunk to slowly pull one ear toward the mirror. The researchers reported not seeing that type of behavior at any other time.

Gordon Gallup, the psychologist who came up with the mark test in 1970 for use on chimps, called the results "very strong and very compelling." But he said additional studies were needed.

"They really need to be replicated in order to be able to say with any assurance that dolphins and elephants indeed as species are capable of recognizing themselves. Replication is the cornerstone of science," said Gallup. (AP)

布隆克斯動物園內一頭名叫「開心」的三十四歲亞洲母象在鏡子前向研究人員展現自我辨識的能力。只有少數其他物種具有這種複雜行為的能力。

二○○五年一項實驗中,開心看著鏡中的自己,重複以象鼻觸碰眼睛上方的「X」記號。

除非照著鏡子,否則開心不可能看到自己額頭上的「X」記號。

參與這項研究的研究人員喬許.普羅尼克表示︰「這對我們來說,似乎證實了她能認出鏡中的自己。」

Today's Words 今天單字

1. complex adj.

複雜的 (fu4 za2 de5)

例: This math problem is very complex.

(這題數學很複雜。)

2. reflection n.

映象 (ying4 xiang4)

例: You can see your reflection in mirrors, water, and other shiny surfaces.

(你可以透過鏡子、水以及其他光亮表面看見自己的影像。)

3. compelling v.i. /v.t.

強迫的 (qiang2 po4 de5)

例: I like to read mysteries because they are compelling.

(我喜歡閱讀推理小說,因為它們讓人愛不釋手。)

4. replicate v.t.

複製 (fu4 zhi4)

例: Faberge's famous eggs have been replicated countless times.

(法貝熱著名的彩蛋被複製過無數次。)


動物園裡其他兩隻大象麥可辛妮和派蒂在兩回實驗中仍無法碰到自己頭上的「X」記號,不過園內三隻母成象在大鏡子前的舉止顯示牠們有自我辨識的能力。

舉例來說,麥可辛妮照鏡子時,以象鼻頂端觸碰嘴巴內部,還用象鼻緩緩地將一隻耳朵拉向鏡子。研究人員描述從未目睹過這種行為。

一九七○年心理學家哥頓蓋洛普首創在猩猩身上進行標誌實驗,實驗結果堪稱「強而有力且令人信服」,但他表示還需進一步實驗。

蓋洛普指出︰「他們必須重複進行這項實驗,才能有把握說海豚跟大象確實有自我辨識的能力,因為重複實驗取得相同結果是科學的根基所在。」 

(美聯社╱翻譯︰鄭湘儀)

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