(Photo: Alexander Vail)
A new UK study reveals that the coral trout could be as intelligent as chimpanzees in the teamwork department.
According to the Daily Mail, they are believed to be able to pick the most cooperative moray eels to help them hunt for prey, communicating using movements, such as headshakes.
While the trout has the speed to chase down a fish, the moray eel possesses a nimble body to catch prey in hard-to-reach places—working together would hence get them more fish.
Moray eel models were used in a controlled environment to examine how well wild coral trout could differentiate a good helper from a bad one.
One model was designed to go in to help the trout flush out prey, and the other eel model simply went the opposite direction.
Like the apes that assisted each other in food-gathering in a 2006 study, the intelligent fish quickly learned which eel model was the better partner and enlisted its help three times more often.
“Although the brains of mammals are certainly larger than those of fish, size may not be all that matters, and we are still a long way from a thorough understanding of fish brains and the mental computation they may capable of,” said Alexander Vail, a marine biologist and zoologist at Cambridge University.
“Each of these large predators is out for itself in their collaborative relationship, but they both do far better by working together and using communication to coordinate the hunt,” he added.
Researchers have also seen similar teamwork with eels by the roving coral grouper, and it very likely exists in other animals as well.