What do zebrafish and humans have in common? Plenty of things, but for now we’re talking about nerves. We both have central nervous systems, which makes scientists pretty keen to experiment on the little guys to find out about the effects of psychoactive substances they don’t want to test on humans.
Scientists were recently surprised when they discovered that cocaine, aka booger sugar, aka rock n’ roll aspirin, aka blow, aka toot, aka yeyo, has a much different effect on zebrafish than it does on humans.
In humans, the white powder goes directly to our brains, causing us to be hyperactive.
In zebrafish, the cocaine makes a beeline for the eyes, and the fish relax after they ingest the drug, the complete opposite of the human reaction. The scientists who conducted the experiments believe the cocaine acts like an anesthetic on the skin, gills, and peripheral nervous system of the fish.
One of the co-authors of the study said, “if we want to have a better knowledge of the effects of such chemicals on the ecosystem, we need a more detailed understanding of the processes of uptake through water – they’re quite different from when drugs are inhaled or injected.”
Weird and interesting stuff, indeed.
h/t: IFL Science