Animal minds

Lampreys fear death? Well, not exactly

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File:Sea Lamprey fish.jpg
lampreys attached to a trout

From Eurekalert, we learn something that beats “Weasel relative can plan for future” cold: “Sea lampreys fear the smell of death” (August 5, 2011):

When scents from dead sea lampreys are poured into a tank of live ones, the lampreys’ efforts to escape are dramatic. In the past, these reactions were simply dismissed as novel. But Michael Wagner, MSU assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife, sees this reaction as a potential game changer.

Actually, this story makes way more sense than “weasel foresight”:

Scientists had proven that the destructive species rely on the odor emitted by past generations of larvae to navigate into streams with suitable spawning grounds. Upon arrival, another odor emitted by mature males lures females onto nests to complete spawning.

So prior research had focused on pheromones that attract lampreys. While good to know, it is of limited strategic value because researchers are actually looking for ways to drive lampreys off. That’s where the development of repellent scents is promising.

Notice that the researchers are not concerned to prove that the lamprey is doing any thinking, just on whether it is less abundant in fisheries as a result of the repellent. We shall leave its inner thoughts to its

2 Replies to “Lampreys fear death? Well, not exactly

  1. 1
    Ilion says:

    Kind of like some hornets get “amgry” when they smell the death of one of their sisters?

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    An angry mob of hornets is not a friendly sight. I know.

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