Penises are generally quiet body parts, but there’s a certain penis out there with the power to be heard loud and clear. The water boatman, that insect we’ve all seen skirting across the top of lakes, ponds and puddles, has the loudest penis in the world. Its penis also makes it the loudest animal on the planet relative to its size.
By rubbing its penis across its abdomen, a process called stridulation (rubbing two body parts together to produce sound), the water boatman is able to produce a mating call that has been measured at
up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of listening to a loud orchestra play while sitting in the front row.
We shouldn’t give the 2mm shaftaphone player too much credit though as its mating call, on average, only measures a measly
78.9 decibels, comparable to a passing freight train.
Luckily for us land lubbers, the water boatman plays his tromboner underwater, which dampens the sound of its genital symphony by 99%.
According to engineering expert Dr James Windmill, who is part of the study, the surprising ability may have wider applications than just pleasing the water boatladies and leaving humans’ mouths agape. He believes states that:
We really don’t know how they make such a loud sound using such a small area. These very small bugs create sound at very high level, and it could be very useful for future ultrasonic systems to learn how they do that.
It appears the future of ultrasonics lies in the miraculous ability of a tiny penis.