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Fish have the reasoning capacity of a 4- or 5-year-old child when it comes to figuring out who among their peers is "top dog," new research shows.
Logan Grosenick, a graduate student in statistics, and his colleagues found that a sixth fish could infer or learn indirectly which were the 1st through 5th strongest simply by observing fights among them in adjacent, transparent tanks, rather than by directly fighting each fish itself or seeing each fish fight all four others.
This type of reasoning, called transitive inference (TI), is a developmental milestone for human children, showing up nonverbally as early as ages 4 and 5; it also has been reported in monkeys, rats and birds. It allows thinkers to reason that if A is bigger than B, and B is bigger than C, then A is also bigger than C.