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Goby fish fins may be as sensitive as human fingertips, study suggests
The team studied goby fish from Lake Michigan as they manouvered over different surfaces.

Researchers observe how goby fish use their fins to interact with different surfaces.

A new study by the University of Chicago has found that goby fish fins might be as sensitive to touch as human fingertips.

The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, suggest that human ability to detect differences between surfaces and shapes likely evolved in a distant common ancestor.

In the study, researchers set out to see if bottom-dwelling goby fish could feel different surfaces with their fins.

The team collected goby fish from Lake Michigan and filmed them in a tank as they manoeuvred over different surfaces, such as a piece of slate or plastic. They noted how the fish’s fins splayed out over each surface, similar to how a human might place their hand on a surface.

Researchers then set out to see if the fish could differentiate between fine variations, such as that of different grades of gravel. They designed a rotating wheel with ridges spaced along the edges and studied the nerve signals that the touch produced.

Study author Adam Hardy said that the nerve responses matched the pattern of the ridges, suggesting that gobies could be as sensitive to detecting coarse surface textures as the finger pads on primate.

“Primates are often held up as the gold standard in tactile sensitivity, so it was really exciting to see that fish fins exhibit a similar tactile response," he said.

He added that the gobies’ tactical sensitivity could have originated far back in evolution.

“This primate hand-like touch also suggests that the ability to detect surface differences via touch has been around a lot longer than we previously thought,” he said.

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Vets asked to opt-in to Scottish SPCA fostering programme

News Story 1
 The Scottish SPCA is encouraging veterinary practices to opt into its new fostering programme, by agreeing to register foster animals when approached by one of the foster carers.

The programme goes live in August 2021, and will help to rehabilitate animals under the Scottish SPCA's care until they are able to be properly re-homed. The programme will help the animals to receive care and attention in a stable and happy home environment, as some animals do not cope with a rescue and re-homing centre environment as well as others.

Specific information for veterinary practices on the new programme can be found at www.scottishspca.org/veterinarysurgeons 

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News Shorts
Webinar provides insight into old age pets

A new webinar providing insights into the BSAVA PetSavers Old Age Pets citizen science project is now available free of charge to its members via the BSAVA Library

The webinar presents an exclusive insight into the research process and progression of the study, which aims to help veterinary professionals and owners provide the best care for their senior dogs.

It also discusses the study's research methods, the researchers' personal interests in this area of study, and how they envisage the findings being used to create a guidance tool to improve discussions between vets and owners about their ageing dogs.