Animal behaviour

Fish match human search strategy


    A small tropical fish seems to scan its surroundings in a similar way to humans.

    Credit: KIM TAYLOR/NPL

    Archerfish (Toxotes spp.) shoot down their prey by spitting jets of water more than 1 metre into the air (pictured). Ingo Rischawy and Stefan Schuster at the University of Bayreuth in Germany trained archerfish to pick out stationary targets amid a distracting background and compared fish performance with that of people throwing tennis balls at a target. Although humans responded faster than the fish, response times for both increased linearly with the number of distracting background objects, implying that the fish and humans use comparable search strategies.

    Humans might share mechanisms for efficient visual search with animals that have much simpler brains, the authors say.

    J. Exp. Biol. (2013)

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    Fish match human search strategy. Nature 497, 161 (2013).

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