A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker Inspired by the snails' spiky shells and acid-loving nature, researchers named the new species Alviniconcha strummeri, after Clash frontman Joe Strummer.
NPR logo

A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/372052995/372070568" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker

A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/372052995/372070568" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONDON CALLING")

THE CLASH: (Singing) London calling...

SIMON: The signature sound of The Clash. And Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, found that when she talked to youngsters about sea snails, she communicated a little more effectively if she skipped all the technical description and just called them punk-rock snails.

SHANNON JOHNSON: Their entire shells are covered in spikes and then the spikes are actually all covered in fuzzy white bacteria.

SIMON: The punk-rock snails live thousands of feet underwater, crowded around the mouths of chimneys of hydrothermal vents. Let's put it this way, it doesn't exactly sound like Santa Monica.

JOHNSON: So they live in hot acidic poison, basically. So they're pretty hard-core.

SIMON: Since Shannon Johnson had such success in calling the spiky acid-loving mollusks punk-rock snails, she and her colleagues decided to name them Alviniconcha strummeri after Joe Strummer, frontman of The Clash.

JOHNSON: Not only was he a punk-rock icon - he's kind of one of the originators of the punk movement - but he also was kind of an environmentalist, he started a foundation that was planting trees all over the world. He's a neat guy.

SIMON: Joe Strummer's not the only big name with his own namesake animal. There is a lemur named after John Cleese. There is a frog named after Ozzy Osbourne. You wonder, does the frog bite the heads off of bats? The Ramones each have their own trilobite and there's a parasitic wasp named after Shakira. The scientists who discovered the wasp say that it causes the caterpillar it inhabits to wiggle and writhe, which reminds them of Shakira's energetic dancing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HIPS DON'T LIE")

SHAKIRA: (Singing) I'm on tonight. You know my hips don't lie and I'm starting to feel it's right.

SIMON: It gets kind of lonely in those research labs, doesn't it?

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.