‘Singing penis’ sets noise record for water insect
A tiny water boatman is the loudest animal on Earth relative to its body size, a study has revealed. Scientists from France and Scotland recorded the aquatic animal “singing” at up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of listening to a loud orchestra play while sitting in the front row.
The insect makes the sound by rubbing its penis against its abdomen in a process known as “stridulation”. Researchers say the song is a courtship display performed to attract a mate. Micronecta scholtzi are freshwater insects measuring just 2mm that are common across Europe.
In a study published in the journal PLoS One, the scientists discovered that the small animals make a mighty sound….
The study is:
“So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae),” Jérôme Sueur, David Mackie, James F.C. Windmill, PLoS ONE 6(6), 2011, p. e21089.
(Thanks to Ig Nobel winner Gareth Jones for bringing this back to our attention.)