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Piranha not only bite but also bark

Friday, December 09, 2011 - 02:10

Dec. 9 - Belgian scientists have discovered that the fearsome South American piranha barks as well as bites, when it hunts. They say they carnivorous fish makes different kinds of barking noises to mark different stages of aggression, a discovery that might apply to other fish species and help to monitor breeding patterns and marine populations. Joanne Nicholson reports.

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=REFEEDING WITH UPDATED EDIT= INTRO: Belgian scientists have discovered that the fearsome South American piranha barks as well as bites, when it hunts. They say they carnivorous fish makes different kinds of barking noises to mark different stages of aggression, a discovery that might apply to other fish species and help to monitor breeding patterns and marine populations. Joanne Nicholson reports. SCRIPT: Not often seen in such close quarters, these piranha fish, it seems, have a bark as well as a bite. Scientists in Belgium have been learning about the sounds these carnivores make underwater. And it could hold the key to understanding the changes in our eco system. Eric Parmentier is a professor at Liege University: SOUNDBITE: UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, ERIC PARMENTIER, SAYING: "You can imagine a system where by knowing the sound from different fish in the lake, river or ocean you could monitor the environment. It would be cheaper to put the microphone in water to listen to different sounds and to evaluate density of population or to have some knowledge about the reproduction periods" The researchers have identified three sounds from the red-bellied variety of the species. The first is where the fish try to gauge who will be the stronger opponent. In the second, the fish start to circle each other. And finally, the chase. These noises are made from the fish smacking their jaws. The way the fish make the sounds has been a revelation for the team at Liege. SOUNDBITE: UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, ERIC PARMENTIER, SAYING: "These experiments allowed us to show that in contrary to what we thought, the bladder cannot vibrate. It does not have its own resonance. It is not like a hitting drum that still vibrates after the bump. What happens here is the muscles producing the sound" The next step for the researchers from Liege university, is to observe the piranhas in their natural habitat in Brazil. They hope that by adding more to their piranha playlist, they'll build a soundtrack to the mating ritual - something the fish are too shy to show off in an aquarium. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters

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Piranha not only bite but also bark

Friday, December 09, 2011 - 02:10