Tiny Fish the Size of a Fingernail Can Produce Noises as Loud as an Elephant

A recent study discovered that a transparent fish native to Myanmar called Danionella cerebrum is capable of making sounds that exceed 140 decibels, which rivals the sound of a firecracker, an elephant blowing its trunk, or an airplane taking off approximately 330 feet away. Producing noise of that volume would be an accomplishment for any creature, but it becomes even more impressive upon learning that the fish is no more than half an inch (13.5 millimeters) long.

How is the Danionella cerebrum capable of making such loud noises? The answer, according to scientists, lies within their swim bladders. According to the report, a special muscle pulls a fish's rib close to a ridged piece of cartilage. When the muscle is relaxed, the rib collides with the swim bladder, which results in a loud drumming noise.

Interestingly, only male members of the species can produce this drumming sound. Scientists still don't know why this is the case, as males have harder ribs than females. And while they also aren't sure why these tiny fish make such loud noises, there are a few theories. Researchers believe that it could either be a way to help them navigate cloudy water or a defense mechanism to deter potential predators.

“We assume that competition between males in this visually restricted environment contributed to the development of the special mechanism for acoustic communication,” shares Dr. Ralf Britz, lead author of this study and head of section ichthyology of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden. (He was also part of the team that discovered the species in 2021.)

The Danionella cerebrum is far from the only sea creature with the ability to create incredible sounds, however. The snapping shrimp, for instance, is able to create popping sounds with their claws that can measure up to 218 decibels. This sound is so loud that it can create a shockwave strong enough to kill its prey instantaneously.

For an example of the sound that the Danionella cerebrum creates, check out the video below.

A recent study revealed that a tiny fish is capable of making a sound louder than a jet engine taking off.

h/t: [CNN]

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Sarah Currier

Sarah Currier is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in central Iowa, she is currently enrolled at Iowa State University and is working toward a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English. She loves all things creative, and when she’s not writing, you can find her immersed in the worlds of television, film, and literature.
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