NEW YORK—A new study published Thursday in the journal Animal Cognition revealed that human beings are the only animals capable of recognizing the dim shadow of their former selves in the mirror. “As our research shows, Homo sapiens remains the sole species with the ability to behold its reflection and identify the youthful visage it once presented to the world,” said New York University evolutionary psychologist and study lead author Gary Marcus, adding that humans and humans alone possess the intellectual capacity to peer into a reflective surface and perceive the lively expression and fresh-faced features buried beneath sagging skin. “While previous studies suggest that some animals—including nonhuman primates, dolphins, and even elephants—respond to their reflection with varying degrees of self-awareness, we find that only humans have the cognitive faculties required to gaze into a mirror and see the vital, hopeful individuals they once were. It is worth pointing out, however, that the human brain generally perceives this phantom image for only a few seconds before it fades away, leaving behind the wrinkles, sallow complexion, and dull, lifeless eyes to which the person has become accustomed over the years.” Marcus also noted that, even after this fleeting view of their former selves fades away, humans are uniquely endowed with the immense levels of self-denial necessary to pretend they’re still the same people they’ve always been.
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