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Archerfish has the ability to recognize human faces: Study

In 2015, a study was done on Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis) where these fish could recognize facial differences among their own species with the aid of ultraviolet wavelengths

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Archerfish. Image source: awesomeocean.com
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  • The Archerfish can be trained to recognize faces
  • Prior to this discovery, it was thought to be impossible
  • Scientists trained them with treats

Humans differ from other species in every sense of the term. Our physique, our body composition, and our mental capacity makes us stand out from the rest of the creatures on this earth. It is particularly our mental capacity, and our cognitive thinking that makes us to feel superior to other species and with this type of mental strength we are able to recognize when we discover new facts, and admit wrongs.

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A recent study published in the journal “Scientific Reports,” shows that we were wrong about fish, or at least one specific fish. The Archerfish, scientifically known as the Toxotes chatareus, which can actually be trained to recognize a human face.

Prior to this discovery, it was a universal fact that fish do not have a neocortex. The neocortex is a part of the brain in mammals. That is why this find is so interesting. When scientists look at the neocortex in mammals such as rats it is a smooth gray matter. When l we look at the neocortex in more advanced specifies such as humans and primates, it has grooves and these grooves increase the area of the neocortex. The responsibilities of the neocortex are as follows, sensory perception, motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and language in humans.

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The Archerfish has the ability to recognize patterns. When thoroughly trained, the fish can differentiate between two photographs of people, and with astonishing accuracy. Scientists chose the Archerfish because it spits water, allowing scientists to understand what it was trying to communicate.

The scientists used operant conditioning to train the fish. They presented pictures of faces to the fish and taught them to distinguish between the two, and choose one over the other. When they chose the correct face, the fish were rewarded with fish feed. This process was repeated for days and up to two weeks.

The accuracy of the fish shocked scientists. The fish were correct 81% of the time. The stunned scientists further when their accuracy increased to 86% when the pictures were changed a bit in regards to color tones and head shapes. The fish simply look for patterns among the faces.

Other studies like this one have been conducted in the past. In 2015, a study was done on Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis). This research found that these fish could recognize facial differences among their own species with the aid of ultraviolet wavelengths. It is thought that they use this facial recognition tool to communicate with each other silently, keeping predators in the dark.

-by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @abby_kono

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After Being Stranded, 145 Pilot Whales Die In New Zealand

Marine mammals are frequently stranded on New Zealand's coasts and the average number of operations carried out by environmental officials is about 85 per year

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Pilot whales
Pilot whales. Flickr

About 145 pilot whales died in New Zealand after being stranded during the weekend on Stewart Island in the extreme south of the country, officials said on Monday.

A hiker alerted authorities on Saturday night about the situation of the whales, who were stranded in Mason Bay in two separate groups about two kilometers apart, a Department of Conservation of New Zealand release said.

Pilot whales
Almost 150 whales die in mass stranding. BBC

Half of the whales were dead when rescuers arrived and the condition of the rest, by the time they were found, was so bad it was decided to euthanise them, said Ren Leppens, operations manager at Rakiura.

“Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanise,” said Leppens.

Pilot whales
A volunteer looks after a whale, part of a pod of stranded pilot whales.

Pilot whales, also called long-finned pilot whale, are a specimen with a bulging forehead and a robust body that can reach between six and seven meters in length, Xinhua news agency reported.

Also Read: The Ocean And Its Climate Crisis

Marine mammals are frequently stranded on New Zealand’s coasts and the average number of operations carried out by environmental officials is about 85 per year, most of them to save these animals individually.

The reasons why whales and dolphins can become stranded have not been clarified, although it is attributed to diseases, navigation errors, sudden changes in tides, being chased by predators or extreme weather conditions. (IANS)