The authors of the study said: “We trained goldfish to use a fish operated vehicle (FOV), a wheeled terrestrial platform that reacts to the fish’s movement characteristics, location and orientation in its water tank.
“The fish were tasked to ‘drive’ the FOV towards a visual target in the terrestrial environment, which was observable through the walls of the tank.
“[Goldfish] were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies.
“These results demonstrate how a fish was able to transfer its space representation and navigation skills to a wholly different terrestrial environment, thus supporting the hypothesis that the former possess a universal quality that is species-independent.”
The results of the study suggest that if fish somehow adapted to live out of water, they could find their way to food to enable their survival.
“It goes without saying that fish, in general, are not naturally equipped to explore terrestrial environments,” the authors added.
The study was led by PhD student Shachar Givon, Masters student Matan Samina and professors Ohad Ben-Shahar and Ronen Segev.