Scientists from Scotland and France came to an unusual and interesting discovery. In a study that was published in a scientific magazine PLoS ONE, these scientists discovered an insect which creates a rather shocking noise. This singing insect whose Latin name is Micronecta scholtzi, but who was nicknamed The Water Boatman was recorded by a team of biologists and ingeneering experts who caught the song of this insect with an underwater microphone. So, obviously, Boatman lives under water, mostly in the rivers and lakes of France – and relative to it’s size (it is only 0.8 inch long) it is the loudest animal ever to be recorded, outperforming all water or terrestrial species as it is able to produce a sound up to 100 decibel. To illustrate the power of it, it’s song can be compared to the sound of an orchestra from a front-row seat.
Even though practically 99% of this sound gets lost while traveling from water to air, it is loud enough for human ear to perceive it. To be able to compare, it is enough to say that the loudest animal on Earth is a blue whale, whose size can’t really compare to the size of the singing insect, and whose song can “only” go up to 188 decibels.
It Serves It’s Purpose
However, the loudness of it probably isn’t the most interesting thing about this small creature – it is the way that the noise is produced, which can be characterized at least as unusual and interesting. This loud sound is generated while the male specimen is rubbing it’s belly with it’s penis. Of course, in a wish to attract a female. This phenomenon is known as stridulation, and it is a common denominator for all the sounds created by animals while rubbing their body parts. Scientists themselves were surprised with the loudness of it, and were convinced only after they recorded and measured the sound multiple times. They are mostly confused because the area used to make this noise in water boatmen is only about 50 microns wide, which is not even the width of a human hair.
Scientists say that human ear wouldn’t be pleased with this sound if it would express it’s full potential. Pest control is called out for much less of a disturbance, so these insects are safe deep under water. Also, scientists noted that unveiling how such a small thing can make such a powerful sound could have worthy applications in a context of science and acoustic technology. For example, it might be possible to measure biodiversity or pollution in water systems which can contribute to the knowledge about inaccessible environment, or it could lead to devices with similar capabilities which could be useful in sonar systems or other industrial or scientific uses of sound, medical ultrasound etc.
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John works for Jersey City Pest Control, and he is an occasional blogger. He enjoys using his spare time to write and read on various subjects, mostly science and nature.