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Another Shrimp in the Wall: Newly discovered pistol shrimp with bright pink claw is named after Pink Floyd

Seattle U biology professor Kristin Hultgren and colleagues in the UK named their find Synalpheus pinkfloydi - a strikingly bright pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp - in recognition of the discoverers’ favorite rock band – Pink Floyd.

April 12, 2017

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’ favorite rock band – Pink Floyd. The conspicuously colored pistol shrimp has been named as Synalpheus pinkfloydi  in the scientific description of the species, published as open access in Zootaxa journal today (12 April British Standard Time).

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

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.

De Grave, Head of Research at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford, 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. 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,” he says.

Arthur Anker, the report’s lead author, says, “I often play Pink Floyd as background music while I’m working, but now the band and my work have been happily combined in the scientific literature.”

Said Hultgren: "This brilliant pink coloration is actually quite rare in living shrimps, so the name is quite descriptive as well as being an homage to a rock legend."

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 honor the band.

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The full paper, Synalpheus pinkfloydi sp. nov., a new pistol shrimp from the tropical eastern Pacific (Decapoda: Alpheidae) by Arthur Anker, Kristin M. Hultgren, and Sammy De Grave is published by Zootaxa in the following edition: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4254.1

For more information, please contact Sammy De Grave, head of research, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, sammy.degrave@oum.ox.ac.uk or 011+44+ 01865 272 962. Dr. Hultgren of Seattle University is in Oxford and may be reachable via De Grave.