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Scientist finds fish are as clever as mammals
By Sarah Knapton

Fish are just as intelligent as rats, a scientist has claimed following new research.

While owls and foxes have earned a reputation for wisdom and cunning, the humble goldfish has become popularly known for its ignorance, swimming contentedly around its bowl as its memory was wiped every three seconds.

The stereotype of a goldfish with a three second memory appears to be a myth. But that view has been challenged by a new study. Dr Mike Webster of St Andrews University has discovered fish show a high level of intelligence when they are in danger.

"A lot of people have this stereotype image of a goldfish with a three second memory and that's not the case at all," said Dr Webster.

"It is probably accurate to say that many fishes such as minnows, sticklebacks and guppies are capable of the same intellectual feats as rats or mice."

Dr Webster carried out a series of experiments to show how minnows escape being eaten by predators by using techniques of shared learning.

He discovered that a solitary fish separated from the shoal by a clear plastic divider, will make its own decisions when there is no threat.

But when a predator was placed in the shared pool, the single fish took its cue on how to act by watching the other fish.

The biologist said: "These experiments provide clear evidence that minnows increasingly rely on social learning as the basis for their foraging decisions as the perceived threat of a predator increases."

Dr Webster said sharing learning was a human trait.

He added: 'Traditionally fishes have been looked upon as simple or intellectually inferior animals that are incapable of learning, with notoriously poor memories.

"Although fishes are the oldest group this does not mean that they ceased evolving."

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That really doesn't surprise me after owning Cichlids and some other pretty interesting fish.
Maybe if people would start seeing them as more than a mindless blob in a tank, they'd start taking better care of them. :)
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