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Loudest animal sound? A bug's penis

By Elizabeth Cunningham Perkins     Jul 5, 2011 in Science
Scientists recorded Earth's loudest animal, relative to its body size. The water boatman, a tiny aquatic bug, generates a 99 decibel din underwater by rubbing penis and body together. Though water muffles most of this mating "song," humans can hear it.
The male water boatman bug rubs a ridged body area only a hair's width across, producing a stridulated signal as loud as some powered lawnmowers, according to a scientific study, presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on June 2 and published on PLoS One.
According to the paper and the researcher's written statement announcing their findings:
Water puts a damper on the bug's buzz, muting 99 percent of the vibes as they travel into the air, yet a human strolling the riverbank might still hear the 10 kHz chirps, which fall within the human hearing frequency range.
After scaling to body length, the rattle this fellow raises would drown out the cheeps, squeaks, howls, growls and roars emitted by 227 other water and land animals.
This extreme acoustical performing may be an exaggerated secondary sexual trait that developed during a period when natural predators disappeared from the environment, causing sexual selection to become super-competitive.
The scientists still do not know how this bitty bug broadcasts so powerfully, but they speculate the mechanism, when discovered, will have practical applications in the field of acoustics.
According to Microcosmos.nl:
Micronecta scholtzi, the bug recorded by the researchers, is the smallest species in the Micronecta (or lesser water boatman) genus of the arthropod family Corixidae.
They swarm harmlessly at the edges of European rivers and lakes, in many locations where the water is still clean and oxygen-rich.
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