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Jun 20, 2014 08:16 AM EDT

Fish Feel Pain Similar To Humans, Study

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Fish feel the pain of others in a manner similar to humans, according to a new study by the Macquarie University in Australia.

Researchers said that fish bears same intelligence as other animals. They retain good memories and display behaviour observed in primates including creating complicated structures (specially-shaped sandcastles) and using tools.

As a result, marine organisation should provide protection and good care for their well-being.

Associate Professor Culum Brown said that fish reside in complex social communities where they monitor others, learn from one another and develop cultural traditions. They even possess the ability to identify themselves and others.

The study that focused on bony fish also spotted characteristics of Machiavellian intelligence like cooperation and reconciliation.

Brown said that the primary senses of the fish are good and in some cases better than that of humans. He also said that the level of mental complexity of fish is equivalent to that of most other vertebrates. While the brains of fish differ from other vertebrates, they have several analogous structures performing similar functions.

"Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate," Brown said in a press release.

Brown thinks that there is little public concern about the creatures' welfare as many people perceive them as just pets or food. Plus, they also do not receive the proper credit for being conscious and intelligent.

The finding is published in Springer's journal Animal Cognition.

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