Friday 19 December, 2014

Fearsome piranhas ‘bark’ to keep combatants at bay

Published On: Fri, Oct 14th, 2011 | Marine Biology | By BioNews

A new study has claimed that piranhas produce a barking sound when entering into a confrontation.

Sandie Millot, Pierre Vandewalle and Eric Parmentier from the University of Liège, Belgium, monitored the behaviour of small groups of captive red-bellied piranhas and found that the fearsome fish have a repertoire of three combative sounds.

“You just have to pick them up and they make sounds,” Parmentier said.

Suspending a hydrophone in the piranhas’ tank, Millot and Parmentier recorded the fish’s sounds and filmed them as they cruised around and competed for food, and found that the well-fed fish were relatively peaceful and attacked each other occasionally.

“We both visited the hospital because we were bitten and Sandie’s finger was nearly cut in half.

Along with the barking sound, piranhas produce two more: a short percussive drum-like sound when fighting for food and circling an opponent, and a softer “croaking” sound produced by their jaws when they snap at each other.

The study has been published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

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