Fin-tastic Drivers

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta…DRIVE?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You’re driving your usual route to work. Oh no! Road construction blocks the street you normally take. How does your brain steer you through the detour on an unfamiliar street?

Shachar Givon from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev took a deep dive.

The researchers trained six goldfish to individually drive an FOV, or fish operated vehicle. Basically a fish tank on wheels! The fish-mobile had a camera system that watched the fishes’ movements. If it swam towards one of the tank’s walls, the car moved in that direction! The fish were tested on how well they avoided obstacles and reached a target for a treat. 

The results? FIN-tastic! The fish successfully learned how to drive after a few trials. 

Even more amazing? They could navigate on LAND, an environment completely different from the underwater world they evolved in. Meaning? Their sense of direction might have more in common with land animals than we thought!

It’s of-FISH-ial – time to get these swimmers their drivers’ license!

Reference: Givon, S., Samina, M., Ben-Shahar, O., & Segev, R. (2022). From fish out of water to new insights on navigation mechanisms in animals. Behavioural Brain Research, 419, 113711.