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article imageStudy Claims Fish Species can Reason

By jello     Feb 3, 2007 in Technology
A Stanford Study examined the behaviour of very territorial male fish and discovered that at least one species is capable of logical reasoning.
A recent study done by scientists at Stanford University in California call it "transitive inference". This is a term used to describe a developmental milestone in children when they are able to draw inferences. ie A is bigger than B and B is bigger than C, therefore, A is bigger than C.
This means that certain fish, after seeing other fish being caught, have learned to avoid the hook and bait.
The Stanford study examined the behaviour of very territorial male fish from Lake Tanganyika in Africa called Astatotilapia burtoni. Tanks were placed surrounding each other with shields to prevent one another looking in. Fish were placed individually and had never encountered the other one before.
The fish were then put into another fish's tank to battle for the territory while one particular fish watched it all. The outcome was predetermined for the resident fish to always win. The results were that fish A defeated fish B, B defeated C, C defeated D, and D defeated E.
When the bystander fish was exposed to fish A and E, it was found to hover with E, the weaker of the 2. And the same thing happened between fish B and D. Although the 2 fish had never fought each other the bystander fish knew through inference that D was the weaker fish.
This trait has been noticed in wolf cubs, chimpanzees, rats, birds and some other species. This kind of trait allows those that learn to survive and prosper, a sort of natural selection.
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