brothercyst: The Dogfish

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Dogfish

Fish don't have nervous systems.

Someone told me that the other night. I wasn't sure. I did some research. There appears to be hard science behind it.

So it may be approaching literal truth that, as the rock star said, it's okay to eat fish because they don't have any feelings.

On the other hand.

In the 19th century, certain men of science claimed that dogs did not feel pain. What appeared to be responses to pain (whimpering, crying, struggling while being beaten or punctured) were mechanical reactions of an organism that was simply wired to avoid damage or destruction to itself.

So they would nail conscious dogs to tables and operate on them in surgical theaters.

The struggling and crying, they explained, was purely mechanical.

Dogs aren't fish, of course.

There is, of course, the dogfish, though.

I would eat the dogfish on a bed of rice.


Ian said...

Hey Nick,

As it turns out any organism that consists of multiple organ systems acting in concert has, of necessity, a nervous system. Particularly an organism like a fish, which relies heavily upon its sense of smell, its proprioception, and its muscular coordination for daily living would have a central nervous system that would ramify into afferent and efferent connections with the entirety of its body.

Interestingly, even invertebrates far more ancient than fish in evolutionary terms have what would undeniably be considered a nervous system: see platyhelminthes, for example.

As for pain, almost every motile organism larger than a single cell has at least some degree of nociceptive neural input that, in present understanding, would be considered pain. Nonmotile organisms, on the other hand, have faced no selective pressure to develop such protective mechanisms and hence have never developed pain receptors (philosophical vindication for vegans, perhaps).

So next time you bite into a fish, just remember that Kurt Cobain was famous for his singing, not his zoology.

NickAntosca said...

I feel so guilty.

No, wait. I don't.