According to a new study from Cornell University, African electric fish engage in a dueling performance of electric pulses when in courtship. Scientists had known that the fish emitted electric signals to explore their surroundings and communicate sex and social standing. This, however, was the first research comparing the electric emissions of breeding and non-breeding fish and sorting the fish’s emissions based on their sex.
The fish use a battery-like organ in their tails to generate the weak charge. The researchers used custom software to separate and document the emissions based on the sex of the fish. Through video footage and the computer program they identified nine motor displays and eleven different pulse sequences common to courtship and mating.
Looks like we’re going to have ourselves a bass-off!
The study was authored by Carl D. Hopkins, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell. Ryan Wong, who conducted the work with Hopkins as part of his undergraduate thesis, said “our study provides strong evidence that the ‘rasp’ [a certain electric signal] is a male advertisement call during courtship in this species,” and added that the males also emit a lower frequency “creak” to woo suitors. Ooohh…hot!