Researchers say that a form of oxytocin — the hormone correlated with human love — has a similar effect on fish, suggesting it is a key regulator of social behavior that has evolved and endured since ancient times.

The findings may help answer an evolutionary psychology question: why do some species develop complex social behaviors while others spend much of their lives alone? To find some clues, they examined the cichlid fish Neolamprologus pulcher, a highly social species found in Lake Tanganyika in Africa. These cichlids are unusual because they form permanent hierarchical social groups made up of a dominant breeding pair and many helpers that look after the young and defend their territory.
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