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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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RCVS launches photo contest for Mental Health Awareness Week

News Story 1
 The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is holding a photo competition for Mental Health Awareness Week to highlight the link between the natural world and wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) aims to encourage people to talk about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can prevent people from seeking help. This year's theme is nature - notably the connection between the natural world and better mental health.

The RCVS is calling on aspiring photographers to submit a photo on this theme to Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters manager, at l.quigley@rcvs.org.uk with a short explanation about their submission and why nature improves their mental health and wellbeing.  

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News Shorts
WSAVA to host free webinar on illegal online puppy trade

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has announced a free webinar to update veterinary professionals across Europe about the illegal online puppy trade. Taking place on Tuesday, 25 May, the webinar will also discuss the importance of the new EU Animal Health Law to help prevent illegal pet sales and make sellers accountable for their actions.

WSAVA chair Dr Natasha Lee said: "Veterinary professionals regularly have to deal with the repercussions of illicit breeding and trading when presented with clinically ill and sometimes dying puppies and distraught owners. Our webinar will equip veterinarians in Europe with the knowledge to play their part in upholding the new legislation and to contribute to new solutions for regulating the online puppy trade."

For more details visit wsava.org