October 01, 2004

Herring Communication

According to papers entitled "Sounds produced by herring (Clupea harengus) bubble release" by Magnus Wahlberg and Håkan Westerberg in the journal Aquatic Living Resources (2003, 16.271-275), and "Pacific and Atlantic Herring Produce Burst Pulse Sounds" by Ben Wilson, Robert S. Batty and Lawrence M. Dill in Biology Letters (2003, 271.S95-S97) herring communicate distress by farting. The papers are perfectly serious and come complete with spectrograms of the sounds in question and an acoustic model of their generation, but it sounds so funny that last night the work was awarded the 2004 IgNobel Prize in Biology.

[Note that Language Log anticipated the IgNobel awards by proposing the key lexical innovation at issue (F.R.T., for "Fast Repetitive Tick") for Word of the Year status, last December.]

Posted by Bill Poser at October 1, 2004 09:52 AM