A recently conducted study has revealed that like humans, flies also experience fear. The findings of the said study have further suggested that these insects might feel other emotions too. In addition, the researchers have stated that other tiny creatures such as spiders and ants might also have emotions.
Caltech postdoctoral fellow William Gibson, the study’s lead author, said that most people will agree that flies possess the four basic emotions like humans do; they are: mating, fleeing, fighting and feeding. According to him, taking this fact a step further in order to confirm whether these insects are afraid of the stimulus they flee from is not easy.
For finding out whether flies actually experience fear, the research team made use of shadows. The researchers wanted to see what kind of reactions the flies showcase when they come across something that might induce fear.
The study involved a group of hungry flies. At first, they were given access to food; when the flies were busy eating, the researchers started to pass a shadow over their food repeatedly.
According to the researchers, the moment the flies saw the overhead shadow, they increased their speed. They began jumping and flying even faster when the number of shadows passed over their food started to increase. The researchers noted that the fear inducing shadows eventually forced the small insects to move away from their food sources.
During another experiment, the researchers found that the hungry flies that moved away from their food sources returned to complete their meal, but before that they required a lot of time to calm down. According to the researchers, the time taken by flies to return to their food sources was more when they got exposed to more shadows.
The research team under Gibson believes that these findings are enough to prove that flies, like humans, also experience fear. Gibson and his colleagues are currently planning to carry out more studies for gathering more such interesting facts about flies.
There are reports suggesting that if the researchers succeed in identifying new molecular players responsible for fear and other emotions in these small insects, we might soon get more advanced treatments for humans suffering from nervous system disorders.