Newly Discovered Shrimp Named After Who?
What is it with rock-loving scientists? After a fossil named after Mark Knopfler, flowers named after Jimi Hendrix, the latest is a shrimp... now named after Pink Floyd.
It’s got, of course, a pink claw. It can also kill fish by snapping that claw at rock-concert-beating volumes of 210 decibels. That’s loud. (The European Space Agency’s Large European Acoustic Facility in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, estimates the threshold for death for a human is usually pegged at around 185-200 dB. But as with all science, it’s a little more complicated than that “headline” figure.)
Synalpheus pinkfloydi was named by Dr. Sammy DeGrave, head of research at Oxford University Museum of National History. “The reference is to the line, ‘By the way, which one of you is Pink?’ from the song ‘Have A Cigar’,” DeGrave told NPR. “The story is when Pink Floyd first went to America, people thought one of the band members was actually named Pink. A reporter asked, 'Which one of you is pink?" so that's what stuck in our mind and that's where [the name] came from.” The band itself was named after two of Syd Barrett’s favorite Piedmont blues guitarists, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. But we’re sure you already knew that.
Odd, though, that an urban myth exists that the real Pink Floyd were actually so loud they also killed fish. Nicholas Schaffner, who wrote the biography A Saucerful Of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey, describes a 1971 show at London's Crystal Palace, where “The performance climaxed with the emergence of a fifty-foot inflatable octopus, shrouded in dry ice, from the little lake separating the audience from the stage, while fireworks exploded overhead. Unfortunately, the music’s volume was such that the real fish in the lake expired from the trauma.” Others have since said any piscine slaughter was more likely due to dry ice “poisoning”. Dr. DeGrave told NPR he wasn’t aware of that story. So what does he know!?
Still, this isn’t the first time he and his colleagues have named crustaceans after their favorite bands — there's another species of shrimp named Elephantis Jaggerai, after the Rolling Stones frontman. (Why isn’t this an elephant? What is it with scientists?)
The now-named Synalpheus pinkfloydi shrimp was found off the Pacific coast of Panama, and its discovery and name have been published in the Zootaxa journal, co-authored with the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil and Seattle University in the US.
Shrimp photo: Arthur Anker