Drunk Fish Totally Impress Sober Fish, Study Finds

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Researchers found that inebriated zebrafish convince clearheaded fish to follow them around, as their erratic behavior is perceived is a "boldness trait"

recent study found that drunk fish can be quite persuasive—so persuasive, in fact, that they got sober fish to physically follow them around in the water.

Research showed that swimming in a high concentration of alcohol made zebrafish faster and bolder. But after the drunken zebrafish were dropped into alcohol-free water, more clearheaded fish were found to follow the inebriated ones around. In other words, drunk fish always end up becoming designated drivers.

Written By: Laura Stampler
continue to source article at time.com

14 COMMENTS

  1. An interesting evolutionary puzzle is: why do humans (and other animals) seem to have such a talent for self deception? It’s rather obvious why deception would have advantages for reproductive success, just ask any guy whose created an online dating profile, but why self deception? At first glance at least it would seem that the organism can only lose in the long term by deceiving itself. It’s one of the issues that Robert Trivers thought was so interesting and why he looked at the issue. And the example here is consistent with what he hypothesized: that at times just being perceived a certain way matters far much more than whether the organism is that way. I.e., believing you are the biggest and toughest dude in the bar may lead to getting your ass kicked more often but it will also result in getting lucky more often which is all that matters. I think it’s rather similar here, the drunken Zebra fish really have no clue but they look bold so the other fish follow them, it’s not just US politics where appearance can trump reality.

  2. I’m wondering if the sober fish follow the drunk fish because the alcohol is being sensed as potential food or something of interest. Those nares are quite sensitive, I understand. Are we to believe that fish think that being drunk is cool? That seems silly.

  3. But after the drunken zebrafish were dropped into alcohol-free water, more clearheaded fish were found to follow the inebriated ones around. In other words, drunk fish always end up becoming designated drivers.

    I read an article decades ago, which claimed that in shoaling fish, a fish with part of its brain removed would become a confident leader others would follow, – not because it knew where it was going, but because it was too stupid to know it was lost!

    I think there are lessons there for some human groupings and cultures!

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