It’s like Hollywood in the fish room of the animal biology department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dave Ernst, the lab tech, points the camera through a peep hole in a black plastic drape towards a small fish tank, while behind him, postdoc Katie McGhee dips a net into a larger tank of juvenile three-spined sticklebacks, ready to pick out the day’s first star. “C’mon, who wants to be famous?” she clucks, transferring a fish via a plastic beaker to the smaller tank to be filmed. The camera rolls.
The selected stickleback does what sticklebacks do—it swims. It circles up and down the smaller tank, pokes around the fake plants at the bottom, then moves back up the water column, its little fish mouth swishing back and forth.