Relative to body size, the water boatman is the loudest animal on earth.
have shown for the first time that the loudest animal on earth,
relative to its body size, is the tiny water boatman, Micronecta scholtzi. At 99.2 decibels, this represents the equivalent of listening to an orchestra play loudly while sitting in the front row.
frequency of the sound (around 10 kHz) is within human hearing range
and Dr. James Windmill of the University of Strathclyde, explains one
clue as to how loud the animals are: “Remarkably, even though 99% of
sound is lost when transferring from water to air, 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.”
song, used by males to attract mates, is produced by rubbing two body
parts together, in a process called stridulation. In water boatmen the
area used for stridulation is only about 50 micrometres across, roughly
the width of a human hair. “We really don’t know how they make such a
loud sound using such a small area,” says Windmill.
researchers, who will be presenting their work at the Society for
Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on Saturday the 2nd of
July, are now keen to bring together aspects of biology and engineering
to clarify how and why such a small animal makes such a loud noise, and
to explore the practical applications.
this work could be helpful in conservation as recordings of insect
sounds could be used to monitor biodiversity. From the engineering side
it could be used to inform our work in acoustics, such as in sonar
systems,” Windmill explains.