Tuesday February 20, 2018
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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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Milky Way’s neighbouring galaxy is of same size, not bigger

With Andromeda no longer considered the Milky Way's big brother

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UFO religion as a concept is now becoming a part of popular understanding.
Countless galaxies exist in the universe, each hiding secrets that humankind is yet to unearth. Pixabay
  • Astronomers discover that the other galaxy nearest to us is the same size as ours
  • The name of the other galaxy is Andromeda
  • It is heavier than sun but the same size as Milky Way

In what could put a galactic arms race to rest, astronomers have discovered that our nearest big neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, is roughly the same size as the Milky Way.

It had been thought that Andromeda was two to three times the size of the Milky Way, and that our own galaxy would ultimately be engulfed by our bigger neighbour.

Galaxy nearest to Milky Way is not larger than it. VOA
Galaxy nearest to Milky Way is not larger than it. VOA

But the new study, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, evens the score between the two galaxies.

It found the weight of the Andromeda is 800 billion times heavier than the Sun, on par with the Milky Way.

The research suggests scientists previously overestimated the amount of dark matter in the Andromeda galaxy.

Also Read: Planets Beyond Milky Way Galaxy Discovered For First Time

“We had thought there was one biggest galaxy and our own Milky Way was slightly smaller but that scenario has now completely changed,” said Prajwal Kafle from the University of Western Australia.

“By examining the orbits of high speed stars, we discovered that this galaxy has far less dark matter than previously thought, and only a third of that uncovered in previous observations,” he said.

Andromeda  is heavier than sun. VOA
Andromeda is heavier than sun. VOA

The study used a new technique to measure the speed required to escape a galaxy.

“When a rocket is launched into space, it is thrown out with a speed of 11 km per second to overcome the Earth’s gravitational pull,” he said.

“Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is over a trillion times heavier than our tiny planet Earth so to escape its gravitational pull we have to launch with a speed of 550km/s,” Kafle said.

Andromeda is same size as the Milky way galaxy. Wikimedia Commons
Andromeda is same size as the Milky way galaxy. Wikimedia Commons

“We used this technique to tie down the mass of Andromeda,” he added.

The Milky Way and Andromeda are two giant spiral galaxies in our local Universe, and light takes a cosmologically tiny two million years to get between them.

With Andromeda no longer considered the Milky Way’s big brother, new simulations are needed to find out what will happen when the two galaxies eventually collide, suggests the study.