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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
  • 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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Can COVID-19 Test Results Arrive in Minutes? Scientists Answer This Question for You

Virus Test Results in Minutes? Scientists Question Accuracy and Doubt it

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COVID-19 test
The Spanish government on Thursday sent 9,000 rapid antigen tests that were deemed unreliable back to a manufacturer that, according to the Chinese government, had no license to sell them. Pixabay

Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus.

The tests could reveal the true extent of the outbreak and help separate the healthy from the sick. But some scientists have challenged their accuracy.

Hopes are hanging on two types of quick tests: antigen tests that use a nose or throat swab to look for the virus, and antibody tests that look in the blood for evidence someone had the virus and recovered. The tests are in short supply, and some of them are unreliable.

“The market has gone completely mad,” Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said Thursday, lamenting the l ack of face masks, personal protection equipment and rapid tests, “because everybody wants these products, and they want the good ones.”

The Spanish government on Thursday sent 9,000 rapid antigen tests that were deemed unreliable back to a manufacturer that, according to the Chinese government, had no license to sell them. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week called the rapid tests a “game changer” and said his government had ordered 3.5 million of them.

COVID-19 test
Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests. Pixabay

The U.K. hopes the tests will allow people who have had COVID-19 and recovered to go back to work, safe in the knowledge that they are immune, at least for now. That could ease the country’s economic lockdown and bring back health care workers who are being quarantined out of fears they may have the virus.

Many scientists have been cautious, saying it’s unclear if the rapid tests provide accurate results.
In the past few months, much of the testing has involved doctors sticking something akin to a long cotton swab deep into a patient’s nose or throat to retrieve cells that contain live virus. Lab scientists pull genetic material from the virus and make billions of copies to get enough for computers to detect the bug. Results sometimes take several days.

Rapid antigen tests have shorter swabs that patients can use themselves to gather specimens. They are akin to rapid flu tests, which can produce results in less than 15 minutes. They focus on antigens — parts of the surface of viruses that trigger an infected person’s body to start producing antibodies.

Health authorities in China, the United States and other countries have offered few details on the rates of false positive and false negative results on any coronavirus tests. Experts worry that the rapid tests may be significantly less reliable than the more time-consuming method.

Lower accuracy has been a concern with rapid flu tests. Spanish scientists said the rapid tests for coronavirus they reviewed were less than 30% accurate. The more established lab tests were about 84% accurate.

COVID-19 test
Patients wear personal protective equipment while maintaining social distancing as they wait in line for a COVID-19 test at Elmhurst Hospital Center. VOA

Those results “would prevent its routine introduction,” according to a report by the Spanish Society of Infectious Disease and Clinical Microbiology that triggered the alarms in Spain and spurred the government’s rejection of the 9,000 antigen tests.

Similar questions swirl around new antibody tests involving blood samples. Some versions have been described as finger-prick tests that can provide important information in minutes.

Antibody tests are most valuable as a way of seeing who has been infected in the recent past, who became immune to the disease and — if done on a wide scale — how widely an infection has spread in a community.

The antibody tests also will allow scientists to get a better understanding of how deadly coronavirus is to all people, because they will provide a better understanding of how many people were ever infected, ranging from those who never showed symptoms to those who became fatally ill. The results will also guide vaccine development.

 

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. Most people recover.

More than 15 companies have notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that they have developed antibody tests, the agency said. The companies are permitted to begin distributing the tests to hospitals and doctors’ offices, provided they carry certain disclaimer statements, including: “This test has not been reviewed by the FDA.”

 

The prime minister’s spokesman was unable to say Thursday how much the U.K. had paid for the tests, which come from several suppliers, or whether the money would be refunded if they turned out to be unreliable.

The chief scientist at the World Health Organization said wider testing would allow health officials to pinpoint infections in people who appear healthy but may be carrying the virus.

Also Read- Here’s How the World Has Reacted to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Being Tested Positive for COVID-19

“We know that if you really go out and test everyone in the community, you’re going to find people walking around with this virus in their nose who do not feel at all ill,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said in an interview.

WHO believes most transmissions of the virus occur through people who already show symptoms, but “the question is still open” about how asymptomatic people may spread infection, Swaminathan. (VOA)