Biologists studying the reefs of Indonesia have discovered a rare new species of crustacean, and they have decided to name it after Sir Elton John.
Researchers studying the remote coral reefs of Raja Ampat in Indonesia have discovered a curious new microscopic species of crustacean that looks like a tiny shrimp. According to Discovery News, the lead researcher was reminded of a movie character played by Elton John when he noticed the strange shrimp through his microscope, and decided to name the critter in John’s honor.
James Thomas of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography explained in a press release that he had always been an Elton John fan. An appendage on the body of the crustacean reminded Thomas of the character Pinball Wizard, played by Elton John in the movie “Tommy.”
The shrimp’s scientific name is Leucothoe eltoni, and was discovered hiding inside the tube-like structures of stationary sea-creatures called tunicates. Scientists have spotted specimens in Indonesia and Hawaii since it was first discovered, and they suspect that the tiny shrimp may have made its way to other reefs as well.
The shrimp likely made its way to Hawaii stowing away in a living tunicate attached to the bottom of a large floating dock transported across the ocean from the Philippines. Leucothoe eltoni is not native to the reefs surrounding Hawaii, and is considered an invasive species.
Biologists still don’t know if the shrimp could have any negative effects on Hawaiian reefs, as we know little about their habits and life cycles. Thomas hopes to study the shrimp further and determine how it will affect ecosystems as it hitches rides to new reefs around the world.