Claw-Snapping "Sonic Shrimp" Named After Pink Floyd

Arthur Anker/Oxford University
Arthur Anker/Oxford University / Arthur Anker/Oxford University

One of the great perks of being a scientist is getting to name newly discovered species after whatever you want. Oftentimes, that means beloved figures in pop culture. There are at least 17 species labeled after characters in Star Wars, including the Wockia Chewbacca moth. But few of these names feel as appropriate as Synalpheus pinkfloydi, a pistol shrimp that can produce massive sonic blasts to stun other creatures in the sea.

The name comes courtesy of the authors of the paper describing the recently discovered shrimp: Sammy De Grave of Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Arthur Anker of Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, and Kristin Hultgren of Seattle University.

"I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old,” De Grave said, as quoted by “I've seen them play live several times since, including the Hyde Park reunion gig for Live8 in 2005. The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favorite band.”

The shrimp, which was identified on the Pacific coast of Panama, can snap its massive claw at rapid speed, producing a cavitation bubble in the water that collapses and produces a sonic blast measured at 210 decibels—one of the loudest sounds in the ocean. The effect of the blast can stun fish, and even kill smaller ones.

Revealing their finding in the journal Zootaxa, De Grave and his colleagues also published mock-up Pink Floyd album covers featuring the shrimp, including one where the creature is superimposed over art for The Wall. It’s also part of a pattern for De Grave, who once named a shrimp after Mick Jagger—Elephantis jaggerai.

[h/t Telegraph]