Animals React to Their Reflections in a Mirror

What happens when you set up a giant mirror in the middle of a forest and film animals’ reactions? Well, in the west African country of Gabon, French photographer Xavier Hubert-Brierre set up a mirror in several different locations and captured some fascinating and hilarious animal behavior. Have a look:

An endless gif of a mirror and bunch of animals

As you can see, the majority of animals reacted to their reflections as if they were rivals, but a few (namely, the chimpanzees) recognized themselves and even used the mirror to groom themselves. But does this mean they’re self-aware? According to the mirror-self-recognition test, yes, they are.

In 1970, psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. developed the mirror self-recognition test (MSR) to determine whether or not various animals were self-aware. In this test, animals that could recognize their own reflection were considered self-aware. To date, only humans, great apes, a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins and orcas, the Eurasian magpie and rhesus macaques have passed the MSR test.

The behavior of the chimpanzees (which are great apes) in the forests of Gabon confirms this. Yet, oddly, the gorillas (which are also great apes) did not appear to recognize themselves. Watch the full video below to see the animals’ reactions in their entirety.