Image Credit: © University of Strathclyde
What's the loudest noisemaker in the animal kingdom? The deep-throated roar of a male lion? The earth-shattering bellow of a bull elephant? Or the ocean-crossing siren-song of the blue whale? According to a duo of entomologists - from Paris and Glasgow - it is none of these mighty animals, at the very apex of their respective ecosystems. Instead, a tiny pond-dwelling insect can claim the volume crown, when decibels are measured pound-for-pound.
The new title-holder is species of water boatman just a tenth of an inch long, Micronecta scholtzi, which is common in European ponds and rivers. To be fair to the elephant and the whale, they do edge out the minuscule insect in total volume emitted - being able to push out nearly 120dB and 190 dB of sound, respectively. But when the fairer measure of volume per body mass is made, M.scholtzi is the winner hands-down, at a mighty 99 dB, for its milligram weight.
The scientists - Dr. James Windmill of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Dr Jerome Sueur, from the Museum of Natural History, Paris - recorded the water boatman making its courting song using specialist underwater recording equipment. The results of their study are being presented today at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference, held in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.
Surprisingly, this puny insect, barely visible to the naked eye, is often heard by those strolling past its watery hab...