Fishes are not just sentient, but aware, communicative, social, tool-using, virtuous, even Machiavellian.

Scarcely a week now passes without a revealing new discovery of fish biology and behaviour. Careful observations on reefs are uncovering nuanced social dynamics of cleaner–client fish mutualisms that defy the human conceit that fishes are dim-witted pea brains and slaves to instinct. And the notorious three-second fish memory has been debunked by simple laboratory investigations.

Among the vertebrate animals – mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes – it is the fishes that are the ...


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