Fish Can Recognize Human Faces

By | Jun 08, 2016 05:01 AM EDT
Archerfish can recognize different facial features in human faces.

Archerfish can recognize different facial features in human faces.(Photo : University fo Oxford)

A unique species of tropical fish can apparently tell the difference among human faces, as this new study marks the first one to confirm how fish possesses the ability to recognize.

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This intelligent fish, known as the archerfish, that have black and silver striped scales, can recognize human faces with accuracy, during a test carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Queensland.

In this new study, researchers trained the fish individually so that they can select faces that are shown on a monitor that can be seen from their tank and choose a face that they have learned to "memorize" from the 44 new faces. The fish will indicate their choice by shooting a jet of water from their mouth, spitting at the correct image.

The results revealed how the archerfish picked out the correct face at 81 percent of the time.

The tests also show the performance of the fish where they were able to identify these faces by using their detailed facial feature recognition, despite some of the shapes and colors of the human faces were altered.

Past studies have shown how only certain mammals specifically primate species possess these facial recognition abilities which can be attributed to larger brain sizes. Some bird species also have these neocortex like brain structures that is a major component in human facial recognition.

The results of this new study suggests that even if fish possess tiny brains, there are other fish species that have already adapted and developed visual discrimination abilities.

According to co-author of the study, Cait Newport from the University of Oxford, this capability to distinguish among a large number of human faces can be an extremely challenging task for the fish, since human faces possess the exact basic facial features. All faces have two eyes, a nose and a mouth and this ability tells how the fish can identify these subtle details and differences from these features.

For example, among family members, there are striking similarities of facial features and this task can be incredibly difficult. This new study is published in the journal, Nature Scientific Reports.

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