18 June 2016

RESEARCH - Fish Can Recognize Human Faces

A recent study conducted by scientists at University of Oxford in the U.K. and the University of Queensland in Australia on archerfish reveals that fish are capable of facial recognition.

The study was printed in the journal Scientific Reports and is the first of its kind.

It would likely lead scientists to research other types of recognition capabilities by fish. Most notably, it’s an exciting possibility for fish owners to know that their aquarium pets may actually be able to recognize them.

According to Dr. Cait Newport, study co-author and member of the University of Oxford’s zoology department, scientists began their research with the intention to learn about how animals with simple brains (like fish) are capable of facial recognition.

The archerfish, a tropical reef fish dubbed as ‘the sharpshooter of the animal kingdom,’ was chosen because of its ability to indicate a clear choice – as in through its ability to spit jets of water at insects.

Scientists conducted the study by training the fish through a reward system to select between two pictures of human faces; through trials lasting anywhere from a few days to weeks, the fish demonstrated their ability to recognize a familiar face a surprising 81% of the time.

This accuracy was increased to 86% when the scientists tried to make the experiment more difficult – by changing the pictures to black and white and evening out head shapes; the study revealed that archerfish have a strong ability to recognize patterns.

The study will open the doors to further investigation, but it lends credence to the theory that it is not just big-brained organisms (primates) who possess the ability to differentiate between faces.

Although fish lack the sophisticated visual cortex of primates, the researchers found the archerfish capable of distinguishing one (familiar) face from 44 new faces.

‘Finding Nemo’ may have a whole new meaning.

By Lindsay Seewalt
Lindsay is an experienced journalist and mother of three whose heart and home is always open to a four-legged friend. With her Corgi, Angie, as household editor-in-chief, Lindsay gives back to the animal planet through the written word on anything and all ado about pets. She is passionate about topics regarding animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, which she aims to instill in both her readers and children to be compassionate animal lovers who are conscious and considerate that furry friends around the globe deserve a voice.

No comments:

Post a Comment