Miscellaneous links

Bio-IT World road to $1,000 genome issue (via Genomes Unzipped)

Distinct clones of Yersinia pestis Caused the Black Death (via Jean M)

Inference of Unexpected Genetic Relatedness among Individuals in HapMap Phase III

"non-western children don’t do so well on the old mirror-recognition test"

"Lost" Francis Crick correspondence found
Wilkins [. . .] complained to Crick and Watson in a rediscovered letter: "To think that Rosie had all the 3D data for 9 months & wouldn’t fit a helix to it and there was I taking her word for it that the data was anti-helical. Christ."
A rare variant of the mtDNA HVS1 sequence in the hairs of Napoleon's family

Darwin's Family Tree Re-Discovered


Mark said...

The mirror test is a measure of self-awareness developed by Gordon Gallup Jr. in 1970, that was based in part on observations made by Charles Darwin.

Gordon Gallup built on these observations by devising a test that attempts to gauge self-awareness by determining whether an animal can recognize its own reflection in a mirror as an image of itself. This is accomplished by surreptitiously marking the animal with two odourless dye spots. The test spot is on a part of the animal that would be visible in front of a mirror, while the control spot is in an accessible but hidden part of the animal's body. Scientists observe that the animal reacts in a manner consistent with it being aware that the test dye is located on its own body while ignoring the control dye. Such behaviour includes turning and adjusting of the body in order to better view the marking in the mirror, or poking at the marking on its own body with a limb while viewing the mirror.

Animals that have passed the mirror test include: all of the great apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, humans, and gorillas), rhesus macaques, bottlenose dolphins, orcas, elephants, [pigs] and European Magpies. In 1981, Epstein, Lanza and Skinner published a paper in the journal Science in which they argued that the pigeon also passes the mirror test.

Dogs, cats, and young human babies all fail the mirror test. Humans tend to fail the mirror test until they are about 18 months old, or what psychoanalysts call the "mirror stage". Capuchin monkeys react to their reflection either with hostility or affection, although mark test experiments have shown that they are incapable of spontaneous mirror self-recognition.

Tanya Broesch and her colleagues began by taking a simplified version of the mirror self-recognition test to Kenya, where they administered it to 82 children aged between 18 to 72 months…. Amazingly, just two of the children ‘passed’ the test by touching or removing the post-it note. The other eighty children ‘froze’ when they saw their reflection – that is they stared at themselves but didn’t react to the post-it note.

In Fiji, none of the children ‘passed’ the test.

Notus Wind said...


You might be interested in the following:



Anonymous said...

Priceless! Large percentage of children from low IQ countries don't pass the mirror test. The conclusion? - The mirror test must be invalid!

"These results suggest that there are profound cross-cultural differences in the meaning of the MSR test, questioning the validity of the mark test as a universal index of self-concept in children’s development."

As Sailer puts it, Occam's butterknife at work again.

Anonymous said...

"Consistent with past research, 77% to 88% of Western children (Canada and United States) pass this version of the MSR test by spontaneously displaying self-oriented behaviors. In contrast, only half of the children from Saint Lucia, Grenada, or Peru and none of the Fijian children of the same age showed any sign of such behaviors. Once again, the question is what might account for such striking cultural variations."

Emphasis mine. The authors are at a total loss. A real mind-bender!

our findings suggest that negative
results (whether in monkeys or humans) must be examined more closely and the results remind us that transporting culture-specific tests among diverse human populations has the potential to lead to flawed interpretations of cognitive differences and developmental processes.

So next time your dog does not recognize itself in the mirror, keep in my that you can't conclude anything from this fact - remember, culture-specific differences might be at play!

Rob S. said...

I think it's a shame that dogs have been acculturated that way. They should be at MIT helping us push down the cost of solar energy.

At least now IQ and brain volume studies won't be so lonely in their bitter political exile in northern Manitoba, up on the windy Hudson Bay, living on lichen soup.

Fido said...

Look on the bright side. We may have lost a test, but now we have a whole new kind of easy.

Before it didn't get any easier than, "So easy a monkey can do it." Now we can say, "So easy a Kenyan or Fijian can do it."