Prog rock giants Pink Floyd honoured in naming of newly-discovered shrimp | University of Oxford
Pink Floyd shrimp
The pistol shrimp is named after Pink Floyd

Arthur Anker

Prog rock giants Pink Floyd honoured in naming of newly-discovered shrimp

A strikingly bright pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp, discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama, has been given the ultimate rock and roll name in recognition of the discoverers’ favourite rock band – Pink Floyd.

The conspicuously coloured pistol shrimp has been named as Synalpheus pinkfloydi in the scientific description of the species, published in Zootaxa journal today (12 April).

Just like all good rock bands, pistol shrimps, or snapping shrimps, have an ability to generate substantial amounts of sonic energy. By closing its enlarged claw at rapid speed the shrimp creates a high-pressure cavitation bubble, the implosion of which results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean – strong enough to stun or even kill a small fish.

Combined with its distinct, almost glowing-pink snapping claw, Synalpheus pinkfloydi is aptly named by the report’s authors, Sammy De Grave, of Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Arthur Anker of the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, and Kristin Hultgren of Seattle University in the USA.

Dr De Grave, who is Head of Research at the Museum, has been a life-long Pink Floyd fan and has been waiting for the opportunity to name the right new species after the band.

“I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old,” he said. “I’ve seen them play live several times since, including the Hyde Park reunion gig for Live 8 in 2005. The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band,” he says.

Synalpheus pinkfloydi is not the only pistol shrimp with such a lurid claw. It’s closely-related and similar-looking sister species, Synalpheus antillensis, scientifically described in 1909, is found in the western Atlantic, including the Caribbean side of Panama. But the authors of the new paper found that the two species show considerable genetic divergence, granting S. pinkfloydi a new species status and its very own rock and roll name.

Animals feature frequently in the Floyd back-catalogue. Indeed, the 1977 album Animals includes tracks titled Dogs, Sheep, and a suite of music dedicated to pigs. Then there’s Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict from 1969’s Ummagumma. In fact, other biologists have already named a damselfly after that album: Umma gumma, in the family Calopterygidae. However, until today there have been no crustacean names known to honour the band.