The insect world is full of noisy critters, from the nocturnal chirps of crickets to the noisy chorus of cicadas you can only hear every 13 or 17 years.
But perhaps the most unique is one you may not have heard before now. It’s no larger than a grain of rice and is considered one of the loudest animals on the planet. But that’s not the strangest feature that distinguishes this little pecker. Yes, believe-it-or-not, it’s this little pecker’s pecker that causes all the ruckus.
The Singing Penis
According to National Geographic, the ‘Water Boatman’ is considered “a world citizen [that] chirps by rubbing its penis across its ridged belly. At 105 decibels, the bug’s noise clocks in just louder than a motorcycle.”
Although not the loudest animal in terms of sheer decibels, the Micronecta scholtzi specie does make the loudest sound relative to its body size, scientists announced recently.
Engineers and evolutionary biologists in Scotland and France recorded the boatman "singing.” The chirps were loud enough that humans could hear the sounds while standing at the edge of a boatman's pond.
Remarkably, the boatman creates his songs by rubbing his penis against its abdomen, in a process similar to how crickets utter their chirps. Sound-producing genitalia are relatively rare within the animal kingdom, but one, which is often associated with courtship rituals. Seems apropos, don't you think?
The Organ's Song
"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," said Dr. James Windmill from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
"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,” added biologist and co-author Dr. Jerome Sueur from the Museum of Natural History, Paris, told the BBC.
"We really don't know how they make such a loud sound using such a small area," said Dr Windmill.
Without any obvious adaptations to amplify the sound, the question of how the animals physically makes such a loud call remains a mystery.
"These very small bugs create sound at very high level, and it could be very useful for future ultrasonic systems to learn how they do that," said Dr Windmill. Not that man needs a singing penis to attract females! Or does he? Hmmn!!!