It’s been a big year for science. In record time scientists have been able to develop multiple vaccines to save us from a global pandemic, plans have been unveiled to build the universe’s first space hotel and, most exciting of all, we’ve just discovered that horses can recognise themselves in the mirror.
That’s right, scientists have discovered that horses have become self-aware and that they are massive narcissists obsessed with their own reflections like an Instagram influencer at the Melbourne Cup.
In what has got to be one of the simplest experiments ever invented, scientists in Italy painted a letter X on the faces of 11 horses and concluded that the ones who tried to remove it from their faces must’ve realised they were looking at themselves in a mirror. It just goes to show that horses are massive narcissists who are obsessed with how they look.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Animal Cognition where Dr Paolo Baragli from the University of Pisa wrote: “Here, we report the first evidence of mirror self-recognition at the group level in a non-primate species… Our horses used the mirror surface to guide their movements towards their faces previously marked, thus showing that they are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. They followed a sequence of behavioural steps towards the mirror before being marked.”
It should be clarified that the group tested 14 horses in total, and three of them were unable to work out how the mirror works and thought they were looking at another horse. So let’s just disregard those three horses as idiots who are holding back the species the same way people who think Hey Hey It’s Saturday was the pinnacle of Australian TV are holding back mankind.
Anyway, it’s pretty exciting news for horses who want to take fun selfies in Pisa. Soon we’ll see them posing next to the famous Leaning Tower pretending that they’re holding it up with their hooves alongside every other tourist who has ever visited the city.
What an incredible emotional roller coaster for those horses. First, they’d be thinking: “Holy crap! Is that me? Do I exist? Jesus Christ. I finally understand what Descartes was saying when he wrote: ‘I think, therefore I am.’”
And then immediately after having that incredible insight into their own existence, they’d be thinking: “What the hell is this X on my face? Goddam it’s distracting. I wish I had arms that could reach my face. Self-awareness sucks.”
It’s pretty exciting news for horses because they’re pretty much the first non-primates proven to be capable of self-recognition. Similar studies have been conducted on bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, which have all been intelligent enough to pass the mirror test. Scientists are still unsure if people who say ‘snitzel’ instead of ‘schnitzel’ are able to pass the test. More to come.