This 12-mm Long Fish Produces Sound As Loud As A Jet Engine
This 12-mm Long Fish Produces Sound As Loud As A Jet Engine
The fish has a "unique sound-producing" organ that can produce noises of more than 140 decibels.

One of the world’s smallest fish, measuring about half a centimetre long can produce sounds as loud as fireworks or a jet engine, according to a new study. Danionella cerebrum, a species of fish discovered only about three years ago, is a tiny transparent fish that lives in shallow rivers in Myanmar.

An international team of researchers said in a press release Tuesday that the fish is no more than 12 millimetres long and has a “unique sound-producing” organ that can produce noises of more than 140 decibels.

“This tiny fish can produce sounds of over 140 decibels at a distance of 10 to 12 millimetres, that’s comparable to the sound a human hears when an aeroplane takes off at a distance of 100 meters and quite unusual for an animal of such a tiny size,” study author Ralf Britz, an ichthyologist at the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden, Germany, said.

Although large animals are generally capable of making louder sounds than small animals, certain small species can unexpectedly be just as loud. Elephants can produce sounds of up to 125 decibels with their trunks, but the snapper shrimp uses its claws to produce a popping sound of up to 250 decibels, the researchers said.

Other small animals capable of making loud noises include the flightless kakapo, whose mating calls can reach 130 decibels, and the male anthias, which can attract females with an “audible vibrato” of about 100 hertz and 130 decibels, the researchers said.

“Fish, on the other hand, are generally considered to be rather quiet members of the animal kingdom,” Britz said. However, some species of fish can be astonishingly loud.

Using high-speed video recordings, micro-computed tomography and gene expression analysis, the researchers showed that the Danionella cerebrum snail males have a “special apparatus for producing noise,” the statement said. The apparatus consists of a drumming cartilage, a special rib and a fatigue-resistant muscle.

The study said that to produce the sound, the fish slams the tympanic cartilage against its swim bladder, a gas-filled cavity or organ that functions primarily to control buoyancy. The motion produces a rapid pulse at high and low frequencies.

“This apparatus accelerates the tympanic cartilage with a force of over 2,000g and shoots it against the swim bladder to produce a rapid, loud pulse,” Britz said.

These pulses are strung together to produce calls with either bilateral alternating or unilateral muscle contractions. According to the study, no other fish uses repeated unilateral muscle contractions to produce sound. Danionella cerebrum probably uses the sounds to communicate with each other in murky waters, the researchers said.

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