In horror flicks, creepy sound­tracks are used to help scare the living day­lights out of people. In a lab, two researchers used a sim­ilar device to freak out mud crabs in an effort to prove that they can hear.

The researchers placed the crabs in a big tank and piped in sounds com­monly made by fish that eat them. The crabs were scared stiff. When mating calls and nest defense grunts of hard­head cat­fish and black drum fish played through an under­water speaker, the crabs didn’t dare ven­ture out to dine on the juicy, defense­less juve­nile clams that the researchers set out for them.

Just like in a movie the­ater, it was all an illu­sion. There were no fish; not even any swishing water. But for the crabs, it might as well have been the heart-​​pounding theme from “Jaws” or the shrieking vio­lins in the “Psycho” shower scene, said A. Ran­dall Hughes, an assis­tant pro­fessor of marine and envi­ron­mental sci­ence at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston and a co-​​author of the study.

Read the article at The Washington Post →