Contributed by Marielle Grenade-Willis
Siebeck’s commentary on Jonathan Balcombe’s book What A Fish Knows offers personal experience and compelling evidence for the fact that fish are not nearly as “single-minded” as we have previously thought them to be. Through her own studies of damselfish and archerfish in the Great Barrier Reef, she has observed the fishes’ capability to strategize movement when eluding capture for research, as well as being able to distinguish a particular human face when grouped with others. What makes this discovery so fascinating is that fish do not possess a neocortex as humans do. The neocortex is responsible for sensory perception, spatial recognition, and pain processing. Consciousness, therefore, is not just a quality of humans and is becoming a more widely accepted characteristic capability of other life forms, such as fish.