"Our results show that, like chimpanzees, trout can determine when a situation requires a collaborator and quickly learn to choose the most effective one," said lead researcher Alexander Vail from the University of Cambridge in Britain.

"This study strengthens the case that a relatively small brain compared to warm-blooded species, does not stop at least some fish species from possessing cognitive abilities that compare to or even surpass those of apes," Vail added.

For the study, the researchers caught wild coral trout and recreated hunting scenarios in set-ups that mirrored their natural environment with the aim of creating experiments analogous to those previously conducted using chimpanzees.

When conditions required collaboration, such as, when the food was out of reach, the trout were at least as proficient as chimps at determining when they needed to recruit a collaborator, doing so in 83 percent of cases.

They learned more effectively than chimpanzees when the collaborator was not necessary.

The study appeared in the journal Current Biology.

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