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New Study Says Fish Are Sensitive to Touch

A new study from the University of Chicago suggests fish are sensitive to touch like humans are. 

A February 10th study jointly conducted by the University of Chicago and Proceedings of the Royal Society found that fish have neurons and cells found in pectoral fins located behind their gills that are very sensitive to touch.

The study was conducted by University of Chicago graduate student Adam Hardy and his graduate mentor Melina Hale, PhD, the William Rainey Harper Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. It examined and studied the bottom-dwelling pictus catfish from the Amazon River.

“It was a surprise to us that, similar to mammalian skin, fish fins are able to sense light pressure and subtle motion,” said study author Adam Hardy, graduate student in University of Chicago’s Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy. “This information seems to be conveyed by a type of cell important for touch in mammals, which suggests that the underlying sensory morphology may be evolutionarily conserved.”

“Like us, fish are able to feel the environment around them with their fins. Touch sensation may allow fish to live in dim environments, using touch to navigate when vision is limited,” Hale said to Science Daily. “It raises a lot of exciting questions on how sensory cells shape the brain’s perception of environmental features, and may provide insight into the evolution of sensation in vertebrates.”

It’s no wonder that humans are drawn to fishing, especially since both humans and fish are receptive to sensory touches. Next time you go fishing, pay attention to how fish respond to touch!

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New Study Says Fish Are Sensitive to Touch