Farting fish research wins Ig Nobel

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A team of scientists who studied the farts of herrings has scooped one of science's most infamous awards - the Ig Nobel.

Regular website visitors may remember our story in November 2003 which covered Ben Wilson, Bob Batty and Lawrence Dill's paper in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, explaining that herring communicate with each other by using a fart-like sound.

The team studied captive Pacific and Atlantic herring, Clupea pallassii and C. harengus, and found that they produced a sound which the scientists an FRT, or fast repetitive tick. The FRTs were more prevalent at night, and in one species, were also accompanied by an expulsion of bubbles from the herring's bottom.

The FRTs can be heard by herring, but are too high-pitched for predators to hear, allowing the shoal to communicate to each other without getting rumbled.

The Ig Nobel awards are given to the most amusing yet credible studies in a wide range of disciplines. The Ig Nobel for medicine was won for a study which investigated the link between listening to country music and suicide.