Can fish feel pain? Scientists float new angle

Fishing enthusiasts have been put in their plaice after a team of experts from Edinburgh claimed to have evidence that fish can feel pain.

Research by a team of scientists from the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh has concluded that fish can detect pain and adapt their behaviour to it.

The study, which was undertaken on rainbow trout, found that there were nervous system receptors in the head that responded to "damaging stimuli".

The team also injected noxious substances – like bee sting and acetic acid – into the lips of the selected trout which produced "profound behavioural and physiological" changes in the fish – similar to those observed in higher mammals.

"Anomalous behaviours were exhibited by trout subjected to bee venom and acetic acid," said research leader Dr Lynn Sneddon.

"Fish demonstrated ‘rocking’ motion, strikingly similar to the kind of motion seen in stressed higher vertebrates like mammals, and the trout injected with acetic acid were also observed to rub their lips onto the gravel in their tank and on the tank walls. These do not appear to be reflex responses."

It has previously been established that birds and mammals are capable of experiencing pain.


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