<p><strong>Although not the loudest animal in terms of sheer decibels, the 0.07-inch (2-millimeter) water boatman species <em>Micronecta scholtzi</em>, pictured, does make the loudest sounds relative to its body size, scientists announced in June in the journal <a href="http://www.plosone.org/home.action">PLoS ONE</a>.</strong></p><p>Engineers and evolutionary biologists in Scotland and France recorded the boatman—which is roughly the size of a grain of rice—"singing" in a tank. The aquatic insect's songs peaked at 105 decibels, roughly equivalent to the volume of a pounding jackhammer within arm's reach.</p><p>The chirps are loud enough that humans can hear the sounds while standing at the edge of a boatman's pond. Fortunately for nature lovers, though, nearly all the sound is lost when the noises cross from water to air.</p><p>Remarkably, the boatman creates his songs by rubbing his penis against his belly, in a process similar to how crickets chirp. Sound-producing genitalia are relatively rare within the animal kingdom, but animals have evolved hundreds of other ways to boost their hoots, howls, and snaps.</p><p><em>—Rachel Kaufman</em></p>

"Singing" Penis

Although not the loudest animal in terms of sheer decibels, the 0.07-inch (2-millimeter) water boatman species Micronecta scholtzi, pictured, does make the loudest sounds relative to its body size, scientists announced in June in the journal PLoS ONE.

Engineers and evolutionary biologists in Scotland and France recorded the boatman—which is roughly the size of a grain of rice—"singing" in a tank. The aquatic insect's songs peaked at 105 decibels, roughly equivalent to the volume of a pounding jackhammer within arm's reach.

The chirps are loud enough that humans can hear the sounds while standing at the edge of a boatman's pond. Fortunately for nature lovers, though, nearly all the sound is lost when the noises cross from water to air.

Remarkably, the boatman creates his songs by rubbing his penis against his belly, in a process similar to how crickets chirp. Sound-producing genitalia are relatively rare within the animal kingdom, but animals have evolved hundreds of other ways to boost their hoots, howls, and snaps.

—Rachel Kaufman

Photograph courtesy Jerome Sueur, MNHN

World's Loudest Animals—Bug With "Singing" Penis, More

From an insect with "singing" genitals to frogs as loud as lawnmowers, see which species are the noisiest known to science.

Read This Next

Can science help personalize your diet?
Hogs are running wild in the U.S.—and spreading disease
Salman Rushdie on the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet