Wednesday


In the last post, we have covered a story about scientists using dead dolphins' penises to simulate their penetration behavior, and with this post's title, it seems that we are on a scientific penile spree.

This time, though, the subject is an insect called water boatman. It is a 2-mm (0.07-inch) long arthropod that makes the loudest noise relative to its body size!

Micronecta scholtzi is a species of water boatman that is commonly found in freshwater ponds and lakes in Europe. The water boatman is lighter than water and usually attaches itself to a plant or vegetation at the bottom of a pond or lake. They breathe by surrounding themselves with a bubble of air. Additionally, they manage to stay underwater by continuously replacing oxygen they breathe by diffusion from water, and at the same time extracting carbon-dioxide by dissolution in the water.

Up until now, the water boatman looks like a typical pond insect. However, this tiny creature has taken the art of using penises to the next level: Males of this species produce a deafening 105-decibel sound by rubbing their penises against their bellies in a process called stridulation. Even though the insect produces this sound at the bottom of the water, humans passing by the river can actually hear the noise. Furthermore, the only thing that prevents this creature from causing hearing loss to humans is that it lives underwater, since 99 percent of sound is lost when traveling from water to air. At 105 decibels, water boatmans' mating songs are clocked 20 decibels above the 85-decibel safety threshold. Any repeated exposure to noises clocked at or above this threshold could result in permanent hearing damage.

If you want to protect your ears, there is one thing you should never do. You should never interrupt a water boatman male's mating song by bringing it out of water!
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