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Bug With "Singing Penis" Is World's Loudest 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the animal-idol dept.
sciencehabit writes "The world's loudest animal relative to its size has been revealed to be a tiny bug with a big organ. The water boatman, Micronecta scholtzi, rattles its penis along grooves in its abdomen to produce a chattering song—that registers at 99.2 decibels—about the volume of a loud orchestra heard from the front row. Even though the water boatman does its 'singing' from the bottom of rivers to attract mates, humans walking along the riverbank can clearly hear it. The area along its abdomen that the bug uses to make the noise is only about the width of a human hair, and researchers aren't sure exactly how it produces so loud a song."
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Bug With "Singing Penis" Is World's Loudest

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  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday July 01, 2011 @05:16PM (#36637642) Homepage Journal

    Micronecta scholtzi are freshwater insects measuring just 2mm that are common across Europe. ...
    On average, the songs of M. scholtzi reached 78.9 decibels, comparable to a passing freight train. ...
    "If you scale the sound level they produce against their body size, Micronecta scholtzi are the loudest animals on Earth," said Dr Windmill. ...
    To produce the intense sound, the water boatmen "stridulate" by rubbing a ridge on their penis across the ridged surface of their abdomen. ...
    "Males try to compete to have access to females and then try to produce a song as loud as possible potentially scrambling the song of competitors." ...
    What makes M. scholtzi extraordinary is that the area they use to create sound only measures about 50 micrometres across, roughly the width of a human hair. ...

    btw, here is the picture of the little bugger. []

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Friday July 01, 2011 @05:17PM (#36637644)

    I found that the bug's Wikipedia page [] contains the following disturbing gem (bolding mine):

    M. scholtzi is easily differentiated from other species in this genus by the twisted left paramere of the male genitalia, (see Traumatic insemination []) the short pronotum [] and a distinctive dark pattern on the head.

    I thought getting your schwartz twisted was a bad thing, but apparently this little feller has capitalized on it to develop a whole range of antisocial hobbies. Who knew.


  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Friday July 01, 2011 @05:38PM (#36637778)

    While acoustic levitation is certainly an interesting phenomenon, I wouldn't get too confused about ancient monuments and ancient texts -- basic applied physics is all we need to understand how to move multi-ton blocks of stone with nothing but manpower.

    By way of reference, have a look at Wally Wallington's website [] -- not joking, the guy shows some very convincing demonstrations of how a single human can move 20-ton chunks of concrete (concrete being easier to obtain than stone, but functionally similar).


  • At what distance? (Score:4, Informative)

    by l00sr (266426) on Friday July 01, 2011 @05:40PM (#36637798)

    Decibel figures are meaningless without knowing the distance of the observer to the bug's penis. For all we know, the scientist jammed the bug's willy into his/her ear, in which case the sound could obviously be perceived much louder than an orchestra from the front row!

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields