IMIS | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research


Publications | Institutes | Persons | Datasets | Projects | Maps
[ report an error in this record ]basket (0): add | show Printer-friendly version

An intermediate in the evolution of superfast sonic muscles
Mok, H.-K.; Parmentier, E.; Chiu, K.-H.; Tsai, K.-E.; Chiu, P.-H.; Fine, M.L. (2011). An intermediate in the evolution of superfast sonic muscles. Front. Zool. 8: 31.
In: Frontiers in Zoology. BioMed Central: London. ISSN 1742-9994, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    sound production; acoustic communication; swimbladder; striated muscle;smooth muscle; adaptation; evolutionary intermediates

Authors  Top 
  • Mok, H.-K.
  • Parmentier, E., more
  • Chiu, K.-H.
  • Tsai, K.-E.
  • Chiu, P.-H.
  • Fine, M.L.



    Intermediate forms in the evolution of new adaptations such as transitions from water to land and the evolution of flight are often poorly understood. Similarly, the evolution of superfast sonic muscles in fishes, often considered the fastest muscles in vertebrates, has been a mystery because slow bladder movement does not generate sound. Slow muscles that stretch the swimbladder and then produce sound during recoil have recently been discovered in ophidiiform fishes. Here we describe the disturbance call (produced when fish are held) and sonic mechanism in an unrelated perciform pearl perch (Glaucosomatidae) that represents an intermediate condition in the evolution of super-fast sonic muscles.


    The pearl perch disturbance call is a two-part sound produced by a fast sonic muscle that rapidly stretches the bladder and an antagonistic tendon-smooth muscle combination (part 1) causing the tendon and bladder to snap back (part 2) generating a higher-frequency and greater-amplitude pulse. The smooth muscle is confirmed by electron microscopy and protein analysis. To our knowledge smooth muscle attachment to a tendon is unknown in animals.


    The pearl perch, an advanced perciform teleost unrelated to ophidiiform fishes, uses a slow type mechanism to produce the major portion of the sound pulse during recoil, but the swimbladder is stretched by a fast muscle. Similarities between the two unrelated lineages, suggest independent and convergent evolution of sonic muscles and indicate intermediate forms in the evolution of superfast muscles.

All data in IMIS is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy Top | Authors