Fish recognise familiar faces


A new study by scientists in Japan has found that Daffodil cichlids, Neolamprologus pulcher, can recognise individual fish by looking at their facial features.

Other animals, such as chimpanzees, are able to recognise individuals in this way, but it wasn’t previously known whether fish had this ability.
Neolamprolgus pulcher lives in large family groups in Lake Tanganyika. In the study, researchers from Osaka City University exposed the cichlids to digital images showing different combinations of familiar and unfamiliar faces and body colours.
They found that the fish looked at the pictures of unfamiliar faces for longer and from further away than those that showed familiar faces.
Researchers said their study showed that "facial features are the visual cue used for individual recognition in the social fish," and that the results strongly suggest that fish can distinguish individuals accurately using facial colour patterns.
 
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