Ci­ch­lids recog­nise faces

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Fishkeeping News -

The Masked julie, Juli­dochromis tran­scrip­tus, from Lake Tan­ganyika, has the abil­ity to recog­nise in­di­vid­ual faces, mak­ing them more re­laxed around fa­mil­iar fish and more guarded with strangers. It iden­ti­fies other fish us­ing the pat­tern around the eyes, re­searchers have dis­cov­ered.

In the wild, J. tran­scrip­tus lives in rock crevices hid­den by veg­e­ta­tion, so only a small part of its body tends to be vis­i­ble at any time.

Sci­en­tists placed eight adult males from a group of fa­mil­iar in­di­vid­u­als in an aquarium, then ex­posed them to digital mod­els of fish with both fa­mil­iar and un­fa­mil­iar fea­tures on both their heads and bod­ies. They found the males spent more time fol­low­ing those mod­els whose faces they did not recog­nise, in or­der to mon­i­tor any po­ten­tial threat.

“We found that our sub­jects were es­pe­cially guarded against only un­fa­mil­iar face mod­els, re­gard­less of body type,” says Takashi Hotta of Osaka City Univer­sity in Ja­pan.

Juli­dochromis tran­scrip­tus.

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