Frequently we read headings that report the latest findings in Animal Research such as recent research which was reported on in Science News under the headlines:
“Fish can recognize themselves in photos, further evidence they may be self-aware. Self-awareness may be more widespread among animals than we once thought.”
Of course, this is no surprise to many people who love and care for animals or who interact with animals on a regular basis. So why is this a problem. The article continues:
“Newly published scientific research by animal sociologist Masanori Kohda demonstrates that fish species can pass a cognitive test that shows that they can distinguish their own faces from their companions……Some fish can recognize their own faces in photos and mirrors, an ability usually attributed to humans and other animals considered particularly brainy, such as chimpanzees, scientists report. Finding the ability in fish suggests that self-awareness may be far more widespread among animals than scientists once thought. Kohda’s previous research showed that bluestreak cleaner wrasses can pass the mirror test, a controversial cognitive assessment that purportedly reveals self-awareness, or the ability to be the object of one’s own thoughts. Previously only a handful of large-brained species, including chimpanzees and other great apes, dolphins, elephants and magpies, have passed the test.”
The test involves exposing an animal to a mirror and then putting a mark on the animal’s face or body to see if they will notice it on their reflection and try to touch it on their body. However, how they did this was to inject a dye in the throat of the fish, which anyone could predict would cause the fish some distress.
While this adds to the increasing western scientific evidence that all other vertebrate species are intelligent, feel pain are self aware, it does not lead to people treating animals with respect and not harming them, and it reinforces the belief that it is okay for us to use animals as we wish to do so.
It is obvious that there are differences between our species and other species. But the similarities are more important and more extensive than we realise. Knowing this, we need to relate to them ethically, which leads to the inevitable decision to go vegan.