Think fish are stupid?
Well, new research has shown that fish are intelligent, cunning, manipulative and even cultured.
Fish behaviourists Kevin Laland from St Andrews University, Calam Brown from Edinburgh University and Jens Krause from the University of Leeds have just published a new study which says that fish are not the pea brains many have taken them for.
They say that new research over the past few years has demonstrated the intelligence of fish:
"Now, fish are regarded as steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment and reconciliation, exhibiting stable cultural traditions, and co-operating to inspect predators and catch food."
Their collection of papers on the subject of fish intelligence, which the team has edited, dismisses the old three second memory myth and explains more about the cognitive functions of fish.
Says Laland: "Learning plays a pivotal role in the behavioural development of all vertebrates, and fish are no exception. Although it may seem extraordinary to those comfortably used to pre-judging animal intelligence on the basis of brain volume, in some cognitive domains, fish can even be favourably compared to non-human primates.
"Two themes emerge from this review. The first is that the learning abilities of fishes are comparable to land vertebrates, and whether one considers the neural circuitry, psychological processes or behavioural strategies, fish learning appears to rely on processes strikingly similar to that of other vertebrates.
"The second is that fish provide a flexible and pragmatic biological model system for studying learning and information transmission processes, and in many respects, can be regarded as ideal subjects for research into learning and memory."