Zebrafish Share 70% Of The Same Genes As Humans, Could Smell Rotting Flesh

Zebrafish are tiny, striped fishes which are remarkably interesting for the scientists. That is because these little fish share nearly 70% of the same genes as us humans, making them a worthy subject for scientific study. It has now been discovered that just like humans, Zebrafish have receptors for the smell of rotting flesh.


By finding the very significant similarities between the Zebrafish and humans, scientists intend to see how the behaviors and traits of Zebrafish can be used for our understanding of human body itself. To that end, scientists have recently made an important discovery.

According to a publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a particular receptor for the smell of rotting flesh, caused by a compound called cadaverine, has been found in the zebrafish. The smell of the rotting flesh signifies different things for different species.

Certain fish, for instance, take it as the hint that food is close and so, they swim towards it. Others, such as cats, may take this as a chance to mark their territory. Human brain, however, translates this smell as the cue to go away from the smell, eliciting disgust.

Remarkably, the very same emotion is displayed by Zebrafish when they are in close proximity of rotting flesh. According to author of the aforementioned published study, Sigrun Korsching, ‘It signals danger, if a dead body is lying around maybe the danger is still around. It could also signal that the meat is toxic and should not be eaten.’ The receptor in Zebrafish which persuades them to rush away from the rotting smell has been termed TAAR13c.

Source: PNAS

Courtesy: PopSci

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