Life's Little Mysteries

Do Fish Cry?

This Atlantic wolffish does not seem to be the crying type. (Image credit: Dreamstime)

Fish yawn, cough, and even burp. But they don’t get choked up.

Crying, says Monterey Bay Aquarium’s retired senior marine biologist Steve Webster, is an emotional response made only by  big-brained mammals.

Crybabies are "self-aware and can reflect upon past events, make projections about future events and engage in lots of other complex cognitive behaviors," Webster said.

"Since fishes lack the parts of the brain that set us apart from the fishes — the cerebral cortex — I doubt very much that fishes engage in anything like crying," Webster told LiveScience. "And certainly they produce no tears, since their eyes are constantly bathed in a watery medium."

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Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.