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Small splash fish are quite capable of counting the amount of food, researchers from Italy found out.
They chose squirrels for the experiment, as these fish very effectively get their own food, and their choice can be recorded on cameras, New Scientist reports. Noticing the prey, the fish very accurately spit into it with a jet of water at a distance of 1-2 meters to stun, and then eat.
The researchers put monitors in front of the fish, which displayed different amounts of food. Almost always, the splashers spat at the monitor, on which more dots were depicted.
To complicate the task, scientists created an algorithm that arbitrarily changed the size of the points and their position. For example, three dots on one monitor seemed larger than five dots on the other. Despite this, the fish still spat at the monitor with a large number of dots. This suggests that they reacted precisely to the quantity, and not to the size.
In the wild, it is very difficult to understand whether fish and other animals have an understanding of quantity, since many factors are involved at the same time, scientists say. For example, a lone fish may be adjacent to a larger shoal, not because there are more fish in it, but because the shoal under water seems to her more massive. But the experiment proved that fish have an innate understanding of quantity and do not confuse it with volume.
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