Recent research has revealed that fish are capable of feeling a powerful and contagious emotion. While scientists are generally hesitant to attribute human emotions to animals, it is widely accepted that many animals have moods.
The study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Burgundy in France found that fish can experience positive and negative emotions, which could be passed on to other fish around them. The findings challenge the long-held belief that fishes lack emotional capacity.
Dr. Julien Cote, lead author of the study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, said "Fish have a certain level of consciousness where they can feel things." He added "They have an emotional response system where they can detect when something good or bad happens."
The experiment involved placing groups of zebrafish in tanks with different environments - one with plants and another without - for several weeks. Afterward, researchers introduced new fish into each tank and observed how they reacted.
According to Dr. Cote: "We measured what we call the stress hormone cortisol in all these groups, both old ones and new ones," adding that "And we saw this transfer from old to new individuals."
These findings suggest that just like humans and other social animals such as primates or birds, fishes may also share their states with others through contagion.
While further studies are needed to determine whether fishes possess complex emotions such as empathy or grief like some mammals do; this research certainly opens up the possibility for more exciting discoveries about aquatic life.
In conclusion, this groundbreaking discovery highlights yet again how much there is still left unknown about our animal counterparts’ emotional capabilities- even those living underwater!