So long, thanks for all the ...er, FISH BRIGHTER than boffins thought

Don't let the dolphins keep you in your, er, plaice

Smug humans tend to think fish are the stupidest of all beasties. But that belief has turned out to be a load of barnacles after boffins revealed the true intellect of our fishy friends.

Researchers from the University of Bath joined forces with London's Queen Mary University to work out how zebrafish perceive their deep sea surroundings.

They wanted to know if the fish could use parallel visual search, which has only been identified in mammals to date. This allows land-lubbing beasties to respond to several different stimuli at once.

But the boffins were amazed to see similar skills in fish.

When researchers showed the zebrafish a series of coloured discs, they learned to associate the colour red with food and would reliably choose it over all the other discs.

Dr Michael Proulx, of the University of Bath's Department of Psychology, said: "Although vision seems simple and quick, it involves a lot of computational power.

"It is incredible to discover that the zebrafish brain, with its small size and simple structure, can seemingly find a target visually without getting slower.

"No matter how many items we added to the scene to distract the fish, they had no problem responding at the same speed every time."

We've always known sea creatures aren't as stupid as they look. After all, don't fish swim in schools?

A study on the research has been published in PLOS One. ®

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