Quirks & Quarks

A robotic replica of a zebrafish moves in a life-like way

Understanding the social behaviour of zebrafish through a robot could help scientists learn more about human neurological disorders
A live zebrafish comes eye to eye with a robotic replica of a zebrafish (Maurizio Porfiri)

The zebrafish, a small tropical freshwater fish in the minnow family, has become the animal model of choice for research on a range of neurological disorders in humans. Social behaviour is often affected in people who face anxiety and addictions, schizophrenia and even autism spectrum disorders. All of these are being studied using these tiny swimmers. But in a research lab, using live zebrafish can be challenging. Their size might change, colour and speed may vary from fish to fish, making it hard to get consistent results. Dr. Maurizio Porfiri has come up with a way that could solve this problem. He's created a robotic replica of a zebrafish that moves in a very life-like way.

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