Did you know that there is a species of fish that communicates through puns?
As inconvenient, shameful and unpleasant as they are, the Puns are the fruits of biological needs that we can hardly get rid of. Although this issue has been with us since time immemorial, the fact is that even today humans have not been able to give any usefulness to their flatulence other than emptying a crowded room or entertaining a child using the classic "pull my finger".
Although some people have even raised their gaseous capacities to levels that become almost art forms, the fact is that no species is likely to be as evolved in the use of puns as shoals of herring, which use bubbles to communicate. Yes, that means fish also release gas from behind - even though the origin of this flatulence is different from ours.
While swimming with their shoals, herring puns come out so quickly and intensely that scientists have named the phenomenon “fast, repetitive popping sounds” - an expression that in English forms the acronym FRTs, a pun for the word “Fart” in the language. Emissions last between 0.6 and 7.6 seconds at a time and occur in bursts of anywhere from 7 to 65 pulses, all exiting continuously through the anal duct.
Unlike our puns, however, the gases released by fish do not come from their digestive process, but come from the surface air captured by the animals as they rise to fill their swim bladders. According to the researchers, herring can store the air obtained in this way for at least one day, releasing it only when necessary.
By observing the times and ways the fish decided to “huff”, scientists realized that the Puns were being used as a means of communication, but could not figure out exactly what was being communicated. Disturbing the water and even using some "shark odor", they noted that the presence of threats does not affect the emission pattern, so that the gases do not act as a warning.
The observation also led to the conclusion that FRTs are unrelated to mating rituals, since herring was not engaging in this type of activity while releasing the gusts. Because fish often work in coordinated groups and even rest together in the dark, the researchers hypothesized that emissions would make them aware of each other's presence.
Worthy of Prize
For this theory to make any sense, however, it would have to be unheard of by predators, as it would also denounce the position of herring to its tormentors. Analyzing the sound of the Puns, the scientists found that the frequency of most FRTs is above 2 kHz, which is beyond the “known ear range of most predatory fish” - even though it can be heard by marine mammals.
Although not fully proven, this theory is plausible and would help explain how a typical school of herring maintains the precise distance between each of its members. For now, there are still no ways to apply the methodology discovered in fish to human funs and the practical advantages of this study remain unknown.
The researchers, however, have already received recognition for their work, which came in the form of the mocking IgNobel Prize. Other award winners include the group of researchers who found that strippers earn more when they are at the height of their fertility, and the team that stated that people consistently make certain decisions better and others worse when they want to pee.