The senses that animals possess help them survive in their particular environment, and, in most vertebrates, these comprise sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Fish gain an additional advantage from the lines of specialised scales on each of their flanks – their lateral lines – which can provide them with information about objects moving in the water near by, a sort of ‘touch at a distance’.
One means of assessing the relative importance of these senses to different groups of animals is to examine the size of the parts of the brain associated with decoding the messages they convey. In most fish species, the area of the brain of the brain devoted to smell is large and well-developed. From this, we can safely conclude that the ability to detect and react to smells is important to fish – helping them to navigate, find a mate, avoid danger and locate food.
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