Lions, tigers, and…the tiny water boatmen?
At 2mm, it is also one of the world’s smallest creature, and yes, the tiny water boatman is also the world’s loudest animal – because of the sound that it makes with its penis!
In a process called “stridulation,” the underwater insect rubs its super-miniscule penis against its washboard abdomen to make this incredible mating sound. It’s good to know that abs are important even to the world’s smallest bug!
With a pulsing song of 99.2 dB, the sound that emanates from the tiny boatman penis is loud enough to be heard from the river bank, and is equivalent to the sound of a passing freight train.
However, since the bugs are underwater, 99% of that sound is lost in the transfer from water to air.
Engineering expert, and bug-penis-discoverer, Dr. James Windmill of the University of Glasgow, said:
When we identified without any doubt the sound source, we spent a lot of time making absolutely sure that our recordings of the sounds were calibrated correctly.
The song is so loud that a person walking along the bank can actually hear these tiny creatures singing from the bottom of the river.
If you scale the sound level they produce against their body size, Micronecta scholtzi are the loudest animals on Earth.
And just in case you are not in Europe, where these freshwater insects are found, enjoy this penis song from the comfort of your own home (our apologies if you have to endure “The Beaver”):
(read the titillating study for more)