Natures wonders: smart fish (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 22, 2016, 19:54 (579 days ago) @ David Turell

A wonderful article on the capacity of fish to do clever maneuvers. Thesev stories are much like the fish discussed on the book Natures IQ which I've mentioned before:

"Here's an example of fish intelligence, courtesy of the frillfin goby, a small fish of intertidal zones of both eastern and western Atlantic shores. When the tide goes out, frillfins like to stay near shore, nestled in warm, isolated tide pools where they may find lots of tasty tidbits. But tide pools are not always safe havens from danger. Predators such as octopuses or herons may come foraging, and it pays to make a hasty exit. But where is a little fish to go? Frillfin gobies deploy an improbable maneuver: They leap to a neighboring pool.

"How do they do it without ending up on the rocks, doomed to die in the sun? With prominent eyes, slightly puffy cheeks looking down on a pouting mouth, a rounded tail, and tan-gray-brown blotchy markings along a 3-inch, torpedo-shaped body, the frillfin goby hardly looks like a candidate for the Animal Einstein Olympics. But its brain is an overachiever by any standard. For the little frillfin memorizes the topography of the intertidal zone—fixing in its mind the layout of depressions that will form future pools in the rocks at low tide—while swimming over them at high tide.

"The goby's skill was demonstrated by the late biologist Lester Aronson at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City. Around the time that rats were wowing scientists with their cognitive mapping skills, Aronson constructed an artificial reef in his laboratory. He compelled his gobies to jump by poking a predator-mimicking stick into one of his constructed tide pools. Fishes who had had the opportunity to swim over the room at “high tide” were able to leap to safety 97 percent of the time. Naive fishes who'd had no high-tide experience were only successful at about chance level: 15 percent. With just one high-tide learning session the little gobies still remembered their escape route 40 days later.

"A recent study has found that the brains of rock pool-dwelling goby species are different from those of goby species that hide in the sand and don't need to jump to safety: The brains of the jumpers have more gray matter devoted to spatial memory, whereas the sand dwellers have a greater neural investment in visual processing.

"Forming cognitive maps and recalling them weeks later illustrates more than a frillfin goby's prodigious talent for avoiding a leap of faith. It also exposes the human prejudice to underestimate creatures that we don't understand."

Comment: There are many more examples, much like the ones I used in my second book, where I presented them as lifestyles provided by God. Read the whole article for amazing observations.

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