Pink Floyd pistol shrimp

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

13th April 2017

Pink Floyd pistol shrimp

A new species of pistol shrimp, a small, burrowing crustacean with one oversize claw has been described in the journal Zootaxa.

Pistol shrimps, also known as snapping shrimps, possess a disproportionately large claw, up to half the shrimp’s body in length depending on species. Unlike the usual pincer arrangement of most shrimp claws this features a pistol-like structure made of two parts, a joint allows the hammer part to be cocked backward into a right-angled position, when released it snaps into the other part of the claw creating a high-pressure cavitation bubble capable of stunning small fish and invertebrates, emitting a distinctive “cracking” sound at the same time. The sound produced can be as loud as 210 decibels and is one of the loudest natural sounds in the ocean competing with much larger animals such as whales.

Image: Arthur Anker

Pink Floyd happens to the favourite band of Sammy De Grave (of Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History), one of the researchers, who had always wanted to honour the band if he found a shrimp featuring pink colouration. The new species, around 5.5 millimetres in length, is smooth and semitransparent with a greenish tinge, but does possess a colourful large claw, “an intense, almost glowing pink-red,” hence the choice of name.

Dr De Grave has previously named a species of Eucarid shrimp after Rolling Stones singer, Mick Jagger – Elephantis jaggeri Klotz & De Grave, 2015.

The Oxford team had some Pink Floyd-themed artwork created to mark the discovery, featuring the shrimp in fictitious covers for the Pink Floyd albums Animals and The Wall. The Wall cover shows S. pinkfloydi superimposed over the Museum of Natural History in the style of the original artwork from the album, while the Animals cover shows the crustacean taking the place of a dirigible pink pig floating above London’s Battersea power station:

“Another shrimp in the wall”
Image copyright: Kate Pocklington


“The shrimp”
Image copyright: Chris Jarvis


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


Synalpheus pinkfloydi Anker, Hultgren, De Grave, 2015, the Pink Floyd pistol shrimp.

Synalpheus – Greek, Syn-, sun (συν), together, along with: –alpheus, Alpheios (Αλφειος), whitish; a river in Greek mythology; a river-god.

pinkfloydi – Latinized name. “Named after the well-known British rock band Pink Floyd, inspired by the bright pink-red claw of the new species.”