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Animal Behavior Roundup

November 9, 2007

Fish suffer from sleep deprivation just like humans.


Sleeping with the fishes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The lack of eyelids apparently doesn’t prevent fish from sleeping. This according to researchers at Stanford University, who kept small, tropical zebrafish awake for days, and studied the effects of the sleep deprivation. The team also found that the areas in the fishes’ brains associated with sleep, and the chemicals that regulate them, are similar to those in humans. They now hope to use zebrafish to study sleep disorders, like insomnia and narcolepsy.

In other animal behavior news, scientists are studying several types of tropical birds that follow swarms of army ants through the forest, and feast on the insects that flee from the ants in terror. By studying the birds’ genetics, the researchers have found that at least one species has been foraging in tandem with the army ants for six million years, and may be incapable of finding food without them. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.