New Shrimp, Named for Pink Floyd, Also Has Killer Sound

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This shrimp, by appearance and performance, has sure made a name for itself. And also just like the popular musical band Pink Floyd it has a unique sound that is both ear-splitting and attention-grabbing.

Three researchers came upon a new species of crustacean, one that creates such a violent underwater vibration by flapping its large claw that it disables – even kills – small fish. In making this discovery the group was presented with the opportunity to name it, and being big fans of the musical group known for big-concept shows and even bigger amplified sound, the shrimp was anointed Synalpheus pinkfloydi.

We're not making this up.

Here's an excerpt from the researchers' article, published Wednesday in the journal Zootaxa, announcing their discovery. For scientific papers, it's a rare entry, indeed:



“I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old,” said Sammy De Grave, the Head of Research at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. “The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band,” he added, in a statement issued Wednesday by the university.

As you can see (photo credit: A. Anker) its most prominent physical feature is the relatively immense red pincerlike appendage. The authors, which include Arthur Anker of the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, and Kristin Hultgren of Seattle University in the U.S., write that the pistol shrimp, which comes from the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama, is "characterised by the distal areas of their major and minor chelae [claw] coloured in an intense, almost glowing pink-red." Its appearance is also striking given a "[b]ody semitransparent with greenish or yellow-olive tinge" and a "deep-red line present between the eyes."

While not unique in this regard, this crustacean is also noteworthy for the way it immobilizes its prey. For this reason, it joins the Alpheidae family, whose members behave this way as well, to varying degrees.

With rapid claw movements and closures, the synalpheus pinkfloydi creates high pressure in the water followed by bubbles that burst. When that takes place "the implosion of which results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean," the university reports, "strong enough to stun or even kill a small fish." Hence the classification, pistol.

The sonic level of these implosions, according to one British press report, can reach 210 decibels. (By comparison, some of the loudest rock bands perform at between 100-120 dB, with one of the loudest concerts ever monitored clocking in at 139dB.)

So the synalpheus pinkfloydi is loud.

It is stand-out bold.

And like its namesake, it knows how to get our attention.