It Turns Out Your Pet Fish Has A Better Memory Than You Think
He loves me, he loves me, he really loves me!
I don't actually own a pet fish, but if I did, that's what I would say to upon hearing this news that pet fish actually recognize human faces. So, your pet fish may actually recognize you and know who you are. (OK, it's not exactly love, but I'll take recognition.)
Now, I wrote the book on old wives' tales, so I was pretty convinced just about any fish you put in a bowl forgets who you are after, like, 12 seconds.
Well, it turns out I was pretty much dead wrong. According to a new study from the University of Oxford and the University of Queensland, the archerfish, a badass fish that eats insects around the Philippines, Polynesia and Australia, was able to learn a face and later pick it out with an "impressive" degree of accuracy.
Cait Newport, the lead researcher from Oxford, said,
Being able to distinguish between a large number of human faces is a surprisingly difficult task, mainly due to the fact that all human faces share the same basic features. All faces have two eyes above a nose and mouth, therefore to tell people apart we must be able to identify subtle differences in their features. If you consider the similarities in appearance between some family members, this task can be very difficult indeed.
But, that's not the only thing that makes this discovery so amazing. Sure, humans basically look similar, which makes distinguishing between their faces a tricky task, especially for a fish. Fish, however, apparently lack the parts of the brain that humans use to identify faces.
Fish have a simpler brain than humans and entirely lack the section of the brain that humans use for [recognizing] faces. The fact that archerfish can learn this task suggests that complicated brains are not necessarily needed to [recognize] human faces.
Fish, you amaze me.