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Why Would a Shrimp Species Be Named after Pink Floyd?

In 1971, during the haze of early 1970s counter-culture, some fans of the rock band Pink Floyd were blown away after a concert at London’s Crystal Palace, convinced that the show's high-decibel climax had killed all the fish in a nearby lake. That story was apocryphal, and so is the notion that a new species of pistol shrimp -- dubbed Synalpheus pinkfloydi -- got its name because of that urban myth. In reality, the shrimp was named after Pink Floyd because it has a massive pink claw. Very appropriately, it is capable of rapidly opening and closing that claw, creating an incredibly loud snapping sound that can reach 210 decibels, louder than a typical rock concert. The sonic energy is powerful enough to stun or even kill small fish unlucky enough to be nearby, which the crustacean then feeds on..

We don't need no thought control:

  • It turns out that the myth about that Pink Floyd show is easily explainable. In the finale, a fifty-foot inflatable octopus soared overhead. It wasn’t the decibel level that killed the fish, but the dry ice and flares used to create an eerie glow.
  • Pink Floyd was an unusual name for a band, like others of the era. As the story goes, when the British band hit America’s shores, an unenlightened reporter asked, “Which one of you is Pink?”
  • The same irreverent Oxford University Museum of Natural History researchers who gave Synalpheus pinkfloydi its name also gave another species of shrimp the name Elephantis jaggerai, after the Rolling Stones frontman.
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