Scientists are training fish to recognize a human face and spit on it

The archerfish is a species that’s got quite an accurate aim at where they’re spitting – and in a new scientific study, its next target is a human face.

Scientists at University of Oxford and the University of Queensland have conducted a study to teach fish how to recognize human faces. In their experiment, archerfishes were shown a human face, then asked to identify the one they recognize when shown two photos of different human faces. If they spit on the correct face, they are received a reward for good memory (or aim).

The experiment found that when the photos were shown in color, the fishes were able to correctly identify the face familiar to them 81 percent of the time. The accuracy number jumps to 86 percent for photos in black and white.

fishspit

The goal of the research is to test how animals recognize faces, through specialized neocortical circuitry or learning object recognition.

The researchers say they chose the archerfish because the species is “known for knocking down aerial prey with jets of water, relies heavily on vision to detect small prey against a visually complex background, and demonstrates impressive visual cognitive abilities.” It also lacks a neocortex.

So the next time someone makes fun of you for having memory like a fish, now you have material to debunk that theory. Or prepare to spit at them, whatever feels more elegant.

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