Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in Zoology





DOI of Original Publication


Date of Submission

August 2014



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.


© 2011 Mok et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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VCU Biology Publications

1742-9994-8-31-s1.wmv (5010 kB)
Animation of the sonic anatomy of the pearl perch.

1742-9994-8-31-s2.pdf (39 kB)
Table S1. List of identified proteins. Table S2. List of homologues protein of protein 1 via a BLAST search.

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