Fish iden­tify their rel­lies

The Cairns Post - - NEWS -

SCI­EN­TISTS have dis­cov­ered two species of reef fish which can recog­nise their rel­a­tives by smell.

Doc­tor Jen Ather­ton and Pro­fes­sor Mark Mc­Cormick from the ARC Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Coral Reef Stud­ies at James Cook Univer­sity found young dam­selfish could iden­tify odours of their closely re­lated kin while they were still em­bryos.

“They start to panic when they pick up the scent of an in­jured rel­a­tive,” Dr Ather­ton said.

“The most amaz­ing thing is, not only can the baby dam­selfish iden­tify cues from other sib­ling fish with the same par­ents, they can dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the fish of dif­fer­ent par­ents, and also dif­fer­ent species al­to­gether.”

The study in­volved the em­bryos of two species of com­mon coral reef dam­selfish, the cin­na­mon clown­fish, and the spiny chromis.

The skill could help the fish avoid preda­tors by choos­ing safe habi­tats.

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