Pink Floyd has shrimp species named after it that emits a high-pitched snap

Newly discovered crustacean uses claw click to stun prey with deafening sonic energy

John von Radowitz
Wednesday 12 April 2017 11:42
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The newly discovered pistol shrimp, which has been named Synalpheus pinkfloydi, by zoologist and prog rock fan Dr Sammy de Grave from Oxford University's Museum of Natural History
The newly discovered pistol shrimp, which has been named Synalpheus pinkfloydi, by zoologist and prog rock fan Dr Sammy de Grave from Oxford University's Museum of Natural History

A high-volume crustacean that produces a sound louder than rock concerts has been named after the band Pink Floyd.

The pistol shrimp, Synalpheus pinkfloydi, has a distinctive pink snapping claw which it uses to stun prey with sonic energy.

Zoologist and Pink Floyd fan Dr Sammy de Grave, from Oxford University's Museum of Natural History, had been waiting for the chance to honour the prog rock legends by giving their name to a new species.

He said: “I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old. 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 favourite band.”

Like any self-respecting rock band, pistol shrimps have the ability to generate a huge amount of volume.

By snapping its enlarged claw shut at rapid speed the shrimp creates a high-pressure cavitation bubble which collapses to produce one of the loudest sounds in the ocean.

The sonic blast can reach 210 decibels - far louder than the sound of a gunshot - and is powerful enough to stun or even kill small fish.

For a split-second, the imploding bubble also generates temperatures of 4,400C, which is nearly as hot as the surface of the sun.

Some species of pistol shrimp use their sonic weapon to drill burrows into solid basalt rock.

Synalpheus pinkfloydi was discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama and is closely related to a western Atlantic sister species, S. antillensis, identified in 1909.

A description of the pink-clawed shrimp appears in the journal Zootaxa.

The Oxford team featured the shrimp in fictitious covers for the Pink Floyd albums Animals and The Wall.

In Animals, the crustacean takes the place of a dirigible pink pig floating above London's Battersea power station.

The Wall cover shows S. pinkfloydi superimposed over the Museum of Natural History in the style of original artwork from the album.

Last year biologists named a new species of damselfly after Pink Floyd's 1969 double LP Ummagumma.

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