Mirror Image Stimulation Study, Jaguar 321st December 2017
Jaguar 3 & Bicoloured Porcupine
Once again, the Mirror Stimulation study has recorded data from another Jaguar within the region of the Madre De Dios river basin in the Peruvian Amazon, as well as a Porcupine. As with the previous fortunate finds, the subjects interacted with the mirror and I will, like before, present an interpretation of their behaviour and consider possible implications/ revelations from these findings.
B. As well as a jaguar, the Untamed Photography team has also documented a new animal in the mirror stimulation study – a porcupine (Coendou bocolor). However, it can be argued that this subject’s interactions with the mirror are somewhat lacking. There is some initial ‘interaction’ with the mirror/reflection that can be argued to be inquisitive or slightly aggressive in nature, however the subject soon stops any further interaction and settles around the mirror side. However, as with all scientific endeavours, little or no results are still results and as such, still allude to answers of sorts. As my other writings have discussed, there is only a handful of animals that have been documented to be able to recognise their own reflection. However rodents, the group that includes porcupines, are not amongst that number (see Gallup, 1970; Patterson, 1978; Reiss et al, 2001; Plotnik et al, 2006; Delfour et al, 2001; Rajala et al, 2010; Prior et al,). Even though rodents can be argued to exhibit greater intelligence/cognitive ability than their relative brain size would suggest (Single et al 2001, Jacobs et al 1991), this is considered to be heavily influenced/connected to their impressive sense of smell. This goes a long way to arguably explain the lack of response exhibited by the porcupine, as the reflection would not have a distinct smell, and as such it wouldn’t spark much interest from the porcupine to investigate further. However, this is an area that would be fascinating to explore further with another large rodent – the Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris). If the Untamed Photography team could somehow document Capybara mirror interaction, it would be interesting to see if this other large rodent would interact as little as the porcupine did.
A. As I have discussed in greater detail in my previous work on the other Jaguar videos, these wonderful creatures also do not have the requisite cognitive ability to recognise self and as such do not perceive their own reflection in the mirror. However, the behaviour that the Untamed Photography team has recorded here is still fascinating and casts further insight into the behaviour of these incredible animals. Each Jaguar observed has interacted with the mirror differently, one subject presented aggressively, the second far more inquisitively. I would argue this subject presents cautiously at first, appearing somewhat apprehensive before the mirror. This apprehension, or at least the extent of this apprehension, differs more so than the other jaguars that have been recorded. The Untamed Photography team, after considering the video footage themselves, said that given the bearing of the Subject, it is likely to be a young male Jaguar that has eaten very recently, as evidenced by the distended stomach. This also can be argued to explain why the subject initially presents cautiously. Jaguars can behave sluggishly after eating, ether due to the size of the meal they have eaten or because of their eating habits – as jaguar have been documented to carry off their fresh kills in order to eat them in greater seclusion (Bradford, 2017). Given how full the jaguar presents in the footage, it is likely that its last meal was a large one and as such, its sluggishness could be argued to be linked to fatigue after having carried a large kill off to eat. This is my own speculation however and would require further investigation to completely substantiate.
Furthermore, with this subject being unable to recognise its self, then the reflected image would indeed make the subject behave with caution, as due to it having just fed, it would be less able to defend its self should this “new” jaguar it has encounter be aggressive. However, when the subject feels comfortable enough that this unknown (reflection) jaguar is not aggressive, its manner begins to calm down and its behaviour begins to become inquisitive, very much like the second jaguar subject found within the study. But what makes this particular subject most interesting is how its behaviour goes further to directly relate to second jaguar studied. At the camera site from the Second subject, the team found several “scratchings” or “mounds” in and around the area. These are already a documented phenomenon associated with jaguars and other big cats, and theory concerning them was discussed in greater detail in my other write up.
The footage of this new subject actually captures the jaguar making these “scent mounds”. The subject can be seen rolling amongst leaves on the ground, generally agitating the area of ground. Research on scent mounds amongst Jaguar argues that the mounds are accentuated by such activity in order to make them stand out more as to attract other jaguar towards them and in doing so, ensure that each jaguar is aware of the others inhabiting the area. Indeed, this behaviour is considered to highlight a means of Jaguar communication. The evidence of this specific behaviour captured by Untamed Photography provides a key contribution to the research on this fascinating behaviour. With evidence such as this, it seems more and more likely that, even though jaguars live solitary lives, they do have a fairly sophisticated means social interaction in this unique and none interactive way. Untimed Photography’s work continues to not disappoint, providing camera footage and evidence of such rare and largely unknown animal behaviour.
Richard Huzij MSc Psychology
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