Watchout Sheep Dogs!

May 23, 2008 at 8:45 pm Leave a comment

This just in from The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Strongsville High School senior Kaleigh Eichel came up with lots of impressive observations on instinct and evolution for her winning entry at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last week in Atlanta.

But here’s what you will remember most about her work: The girl trained a 19-cent goldfish that herds its tank mates like cattle.  Really. She has video to prove it.

Kaleigh hoped the untrained fish would follow the trained one to the food. Instead, the newbie cowered by a wall of the tank.  What followed was nothing short of “amazing” to the budding scientist, as she watched the trained fish poke at the untrained one, finally goading it like a shepherd into getting to the snacks.

YouTube fodder? Well, maybe, but Kaleigh sees a bigger lesson in animal communication. The Comet goldfish exhibited altruism and an ability to survive when their habitats change suddenly. By teaching the other fish to go through the maze, the species eats for another day.

Here’s a link to a clip of her video:

Being a scientist myself, in searching for information on this I was pleased to find Wired Magazine’s blog entry regarding how girls swept the top awards at this year’s International Science and Engineering Fair


Entry filed under: behavior science, pet, pets, science.

Hands-off Dog Training Revisited Cats, Dogs and Danger

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