The world was understandably vexed in 2016 and 2017 when U.S. diplomats and their families in Cuba reported hearing strange noises which were soon credited with a host of symptoms––among them dizziness, vertigo and ringing in the ears––they experienced in their wake. Diplomats described the noise as "piercing" and like "grinding metal."
Scientists now believe they've solved the mystery.
Scientists say the sounds of alleged "sonic attacks" on the U.S. Embassy in Cuba are actually the call of Caribbean Lovelorn crickets.
Wait... the what?
You read that right, though. Caribbean Lovelorn crickets, specifically the Indies short-tailed cricket. They're these little guys:
The scientists were quick to point out that their findings do not rule out the possibility of an attack on U.S. diplomats; they just wanted the world to know that the recording of the sound plaguing U.S. diplomats was not a sonic weapon.
"There's plenty of debate in the medical community over what, if any, physical damage there is to these individuals," Alexander Stubbs of the University of California, Berkeley told The New York Times. "All I can say fairly definitively is that the A.P.-released recording is of a cricket, and we think we know what species it is."
Stubbs says when he first heard the sound, he was "reminded of insects he came across while doing field work in the Caribbean."
Together with Dr. Fernando Montealegre-Z of the University of Lincoln in England, they found that the acoustic patterns were similar to those exhibited by certain kinds of insects. They deduced that the song of the Indies short-tailed cricket "matches, in nuanced detail, the A.P. recording in duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse."
"They're incredibly loud," Stubbs said of the crickets. "You can hear them from inside a diesel truck going forty miles an hour on the highway."
Inconsistencies in the Associated Press's recording are likely because the recording was made indoors and not in the wild.
"The AP recording also exhibits frequency decay in individual pulses, a distinct acoustic signature of cricket sound production," the men wrote.
People certainly had opinions on this.
Welp! So much for that. At least we avoided World War III, amirite?