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Singing Fish Teach Scientists More about Communication

Recorded Humming Can Last More than an Hour, Wakes Houseboaters

October 16, 2012
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midshipman fish

midshipman fish

This Atlantic midshipman is related to the Pacific plainfin midshipman that “sings” to attract a mate. Courtesy NOAA Photo Library

According to a Scientific American blog posted this week, researchers are studying the plainfin midshipman fish, a relative of the toadfish that thrives along the Pacific coast at depths to 2,000 feet. Certain males of this species head to shallow water in spring and summer to build nests and attract females.

To guide the females to the nests, the males start humming. To some, the sound mimics a chorus of oboes, the blog states, but it’s kind of like a distant foghorn, or even a monotone digeridoo.

You decide. Click here to listen to the sound, as reported by San Francisco State University. It appears to start around the 14-second mark.

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The blog goes on to relate that scientists are studying this fish and finding how its brain circuitry corresponds with that of amphibians, birds and mammals. They’re even looking at whether fish were the first animals to evolve non-vocal gestures. Related research might suggest that hormone therapies could stave off age-related hearing loss in women. All of that from a toadie!

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