Yes. He can. New research from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev shows that a goldfish can successfully operate a robotic car. Although it seems like something out of a Dr. Seuss novel, it was actually a scientific experiment designed to study animal behavior.
Is the ability of animals to find their way about on their own innately global or local? As though to prove their point, the researchers installed cameras and wheels under a goldfish tank to record and interpret the fish’s motions into directions for forwarding, backward, and side to side. That led them to discover that the navigational abilities of goldfish are superior to their aquatic environment.
The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioural Brain Research.
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A clearly visible target was placed on the wall opposite the tank to see if the fish were actually navigating. Training took a few days before the fish was able to find its way toward the goal. In addition, they were able to do so despite being interrupted by a wall in the middle of their run and were not deceived by researchers’ bogus targets.
Researchers came away from the study with two key takeaways.
“According to the findings, people’s capacity to navigate isn’t dependent on their physical surroundings. Second, it reveals that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a hard task in an environment that is radically different from the one in which they were originally conceived. Learning to ride a bike or drive a car can be difficult at first, as anyone who has attempted it will attest” agrees Shachar Givon, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Natural Sciences’ Department of Life Sciences.