This interesting study, carried out by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, looked at how capable a fish out of water really is. In an effort to understand animals’ navigational capabilities the team used a goldfish as a subject, teaching it to drive a Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV).
The team trained the animals for a number of days to control the direction of the vehicle with the direction of their swimming. The fish’s task was to steer the FOV towards a target, as a reward on arrival they received a food pellet.
Surprisingly, the goldfish actually proved to be a pretty successful navigator. They were able to move around unfamiliar environments to reach their target “regardless of their starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies,” the team said in their paper, published in Behavioural Brain Research.
“The study hints that navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment,” said Shachar Givon, a scientist who worked on the project. “It shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in an environment completely unlike the one they evolved in.”
Humans have long underestimated animals’ abilities, especially the household pet the goldfish. Understanding more about the cognitive abilities of different species gives us clues about our own neurological setup, for example how we make dynamic decisions in unfamiliar environments.
Click here to watch the video of this fish out of water navigating around.
Source study: Behavioural Brain Research – From fish out of water to new insights on navigation mechanisms in animals