Really Smart Fish for $400, Alex

Kofi Annan; U.N. Secretary-General; graduated Macalester College, MN.

Steve Jobs; Apple Computer; graduated Reed College, OR.

Alex Trebek; “Jeopardy” host; graduated Ottawa, U of (Canada).

All really smart guys, but can they hold their own against a fish? According to a news report from National Geographic, you might want to read the story before submitting your “final answer” to that question.

It seems that the little mosquitofish, highly social creatures, not unlike your typical college undergraduate, likes to hang with others of its kind and “party”. It also has about the same math comprehension of your typical undergraduate, it turns out. When given the choice  between two doors, each bearing a different number of symbols, and with the higher numbered door bearing a path to other mosquitofish waiting to fraternize, the mosquitofish could beat random odds and pick the higher count door.

They first tested the fish with small numbers, but repeated the original test with much higher numbers, even as high as 100 to 200. When differences were larger, ratios of 1:2 or 2:3, the fish were pretty good at picking the correct door. When the ratios became closer together, like 3:4, performance degraded. But this is also exactly what happened when they tested undergraduate students. When given just 2 seconds to see two similar symbol sets, a short enough window that the college kids couldn’t count the symbols, the undergrads performed about as well as the fish. It seems people have a harder time differentiating close number sets much like the fish.

This whole story gives one a new perspective on what it means for us anglers to match wits with a fish whose brain is the size of a pea.



  1. BP

    January 20, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Macalester College is in MN. Maybe there is one in Michigan too, but Kofi went to the one in MN.

    Bet a fish didn’t know that.

  2. Brian

    January 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the typo catch BP. Now corrected. I might know fishery science, but apparently I’ve got some work to do on state abbreviations… 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Gitcha Bassin' Fix

To Top