Monday, January 10, 2011

Counting Fish, the news story

"Fish as Good as College Students in Numbers Test" titles an article from National Geographic. The subtitle claiming fish count to 100 aroused skepticism in me.
There has been some discussion on the accuracy of science journalism. I address that here due to the amount of time I already dumped into this current investigation.

Of many, an initial curiosity relates the claims in the article to the actual findings and conclusion of the original scientific study. This tiny query, diligently pursued, led to a reasonable chronology of the story: do fish count?





Chronology

Quantity discrimination in female mosquitofish.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16868736

Fish can count to four--but no higher
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3326801/Fish-can-count-to-four-but-no-higher.html

Do fish count? Spontaneous discrimination of quantity in female mosquitofish.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18247068

Use of Numbers by Fish
http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0004786

Fish Can Count, Study Finds
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/090331-fish-count.html

Unnatural Numb3r
http://dev.catalyst.rice.edu/archives/64

Can angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) count? Discrimination between different shoal sizes follows Weber’s law
http://www.springerlink.com/content/y142p56517048k76/

Ontogeny of Numerical Abilities in Fish
http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0015516

Large Number Discrimination by Mosquitofish
http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0015232

Fish as Good as College Students in Numbers Test
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110107-fish-count-numbers-humans-animals-science/