Listen Up: Here's How Some Piranhas Bark Before They Bite | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Listen Up: Here's How Some Piranhas Bark Before They Bite

We're not recommending you dive in to some South American stream to see if you can hear them do this, but this is just too interesting not to pass along.

National Geographic writes that:

"Piranhas, it turns out, can be excellent communicators, a new study suggests. But don't get the idea they're going soft — their barks, croaks, and clicks likely mean 'leave me alone,' 'I might bite you,' or 'now I'm really angry!' "

It has audio and video here.

Writing in The Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers Sandie Millot, Pierre Vandewalle and Eric Parmentier from the University of Liège, Belgium, say that their study of red-bellied piranhas showed that the fish "became quite vocal as soon as they entered into a confrontation."

And the team identified three sounds: A "bark" when the researchers reached into their tanks (yes, theydid have to visit a hospital and one of Millot's fingers was "nearly cut in half"); a "drumlike sound when fighting for food;" and "a softer 'croaking' sound produced by their jaws when they snap at each other." (National Geographic describes that last sound as more like teeth gnashing.)

The fish use "muscles attached to their swim bladders" to make the drumlike sounds, the Journal says.

According to Parmentier, two or three of the 25 piranha species are known to make such sounds.

We'll take him at his word.

(H/T Huff Post's Green blog.)

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

What's A Pirate's Least-Favorite Puzzle? One That Hates Arrrrs

In each pair of clues, the answer to the first clue is a word that contains the consecutive letters A-R. Drop the A-R, and the remaining letters in order will form a word that answers the second clue.
NPR

What To Do With Weird Farmers Market Vegetables

The farmer's market in July is a wondrous thing: juicy tomatoes, jewel-toned eggplants, sweet yellow corn. But then, you see greens that look like weeds, and suddenly, you feel intimidated.
NPR

Trump's Campaign Theme Song Headache? Blame Michael Jackson, Sort Of

Candidates keep getting in trouble for picking theme songs without getting approval from the artist. You can trace this back to changes in both campaigning and the way companies sell products.
NPR

Want A Taste Of Virtual Reality? Step One: Find Some Cardboard

Fancy headsets can cost between $200 and $500. But if you have a smartphone, some extra time and an empty pizza box, you can make your own.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.