A tiny insect proves that size really doesn’t matter – by using its penis to become the loudest creature on Earth.
Its private parts are thinner than a human hair yet it can reach an ear-splitting 99.2 decibels by rubbing its penis against its abdomen.
Found all over Europe, the water boatman (or Micronecta scholtzi) male tries to seduce prospective partners by rubbing its member against its abdomen.
Dubbed ‘the singing penis’ for the way it serenades potential mates, it’s so loud that humans walking along a river bank can hear the noise coming from the bottom of the water. Their average song reaches 78.9 decibels, the same as a passing freight train but since 99 per cent of the sound is lost when transferring from water to air, there is no risk of deafening passers-by.
Although blue whales are the loudest animals when they sing at 188db and the rumbling calls of elephants’ reach an impressive 117db, at just 2mm long, the water boatman is the noisiest animal on Earth – once body size is taken into account. If one scales up the sound level they produce against body size, then they are the loudest animals on Earth.
French and Scottish scientists made the startling discovery of the penis serenade, the water boatman is so noisy they thought at first it must be originating from a much larger aquatic species.
Their next challenge will be to find out whether the females of the species actually like the courtship calls.