Animals use sounds and noises in nature for a wide variety of reasons. Some of these uses range from simple mating calls to self defense and some even use the sound they make as a weapon to hunt with. But which animal lays claim to the being the loudest animal on the planet? Today we’re going to find out.
Which Animal Is The Loudest?
Excluding humans who are capable of creating some of the loudest sounds on the planet artificially, there are few other animals vying for the top spot. The one most people are familiar with is the Blue Whale. Blue whales can emit very loud, structured, repetitive low-frequency sounds that can travel for hundreds of miles underwater. These ‘songs’ are thought to be used for communicating with other blue whales, especially in mating when attempting to to attract mates. Their song can reach upwards of 188 decibels, which is louder than a jet engine. Theoretical calculations by Roger Payne and Douglas Webb predict that the songs of the loudest of these blue whales could be transmitted across an entire ocean.
Don’t Forget About Me
While tiny by comparison, the Tiger Pistol Shrimp is not going down without a fight. The tiger pistol shrimp is arguably the loudest creature on earth. This little shrimp is capable of snapping its claw and emitting a sound up to 200 decibels which it uses to stun its prey. This process also creates a little bubble which – for a fraction of a second – is hotter than the surface of the sun at 8,000F (4,426C).
A New Discovery
Scientists have just announced for the first time that the loudest animal, 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.
The frequency of the sound (10 kHz) is within human hearing and Dr. James Windmill of the University of Strathclyde, explains just how loud the animals actually are, “Remarkably, even though more than 99% of sound is lost when transferring from water to air, the song is so loud that someone walking along the bank can actually hear these tiny creatures singing from the bottom of a river.”
Their song, used by males to attract females, is produced by stridulation — a process of rubbing two body parts together. In water boatmen, the area used for this ‘stridulation’ is only 50 micrometres across, or the width of a single human hair. “We really have no idea how they make such a loud sound using such a small area,” says Dr. Windmill.
The researchers, who will be presenting their work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow, are now keen to bring together aspects of biology and engineering to discover how and why such a tiny animal makes noises that loud, and to explore any practical applications. Dr. Windmill explains, “Biologically 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.”