A shrimp calypse now.
As if the 2023 Burning Man Festival wasn’t apocalyptic enough, the event was recently brought down by a biblical plague of three-eyed “dinosaur shrimp” that squirmed to the surface of the Nevada desert to join the party.
The prehistoric creatures, also known as Tadpole Shrimp or Triops, slumbered in underground egg cases for days.
However, the shrimp were woken up over the weekend by torrential downpours that turned the normally dry environment of the Black Rock Desert into a soggy hellscape with mud up to 30cm deep.
This caused hours of traffic jams as thousands of stranded Burning Man revelers desperately had to flee the annual party, which runs from August 27th to September 4th.
One man’s swamp turned out to be another creature’s oasis: the accompanying photos show the living fossils squirming in shallow puddles like a primeval shrimp cocktail.
Triops can remain underground for years before being disturbed by rainwater – as was the case with the recent Burning Man flooding.
The most notable features of Seabucks are their shield-like body and third eye (which is used to detect changes in light and infrared waves), giving them a futuristic feel – think the robotic scorpion used to track Neo in The Matrix.
However, triops are among the oldest creatures living on earth today. They evolved when the planet was dominated by the former supercontinent Gondwana, which formed about 550 million years ago.
This landmass now includes what is now South America, Africa, East Asia, Australia and Antarctica.
Of course, the idea of hundreds of prehistoric shrimp hatching during one of the biggest parties in the United States might sound like the plot of a bad horror movie.
However, for humans, triops do not pose a threat, but rather a hazard feed on plant matter, algae and even mosquito larvae (Moderate populations of Tadpole Shrimp are used in Japan to control rice pests.)
Needless to say, this true Triop Topia was purgatory for the more than 70,000 participants who were stuck in the muddy desert for days.
A reveler identified as 32-year-old Leon Reece reportedly died amid the flooding on Friday.
His death appeared to be unrelated to the weather, but authorities said the difficult conditions delayed rescue efforts.
Doctors warned stranded festival-goers to take care of their health as stagnant water, port-a-potty and cold weather put them at risk of hypothermia, foodborne illness and COVID-19.
Revelers were also urged to conserve food and water in light of the flooding.
Burning Man-goers were finally allowed to leave Black Rock City on Monday afternoon after local officials lifted a travel ban, causing an epic traffic jam on the 5-mile dirt road to the nearest highway.
As of Tuesday morning, Burning Man’s traffic statistics estimated the travel time for the Exodus to be six hours.