from the who-you-callin'-birdbrain dept.
FireStormZ writes "Magpies can recognize themselves in a mirror, confounding the notion that self-awareness is the exclusive preserve of humans and a few higher mammals. It had been thought only four species of apes, bottlenose dolphins, and Asian elephants shared the human ability to recognize their own bodies in a mirror. But German scientists reported on Tuesday that magpies, a species with a brain structure very different from mammals, could also identify themselves. It had been thought that the neocortex brain area found in mammals was crucial to self-recognition. Yet birds, which last shared a common ancestor with mammals 300 million years ago, don't have a neocortex, suggesting that higher cognitive skills can develop in other ways."