Printer Friendly

Hairy crab lounges deep in the pacific.

A newly discovered deep-sea creature has the body of a crab--except with long, fluffy, blonde hair covering its legs.

It lives some 2,200 meters deep in the southeast Pacific near hydrothermal vents, says Joe Jones of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. The hair is so heavily infested with as-yet-unidentified bacteria that Jones and his colleagues speculate that the microbes are metabolizing compounds from the vents and providing energy for the crab.

That feeding strategy could explain why the crabs sometimes sit with their legs extending into the warm water leaking near vents. Living off dirty-blonde body hair isn't these crabs' only option. Researchers saw them feast on mussels that the submersible cracked open when landing.

The crabs don't have eyes so it's also possible that the hairs work as sensors.

Jones and his colleagues first spotted the 15-centimeter-long species last year when taking the research submersible Alvin down to new lava fields south of Easter Island. They collected one sample crab. In the winter issue of Zoosystema, the researchers formally name it Kiwa hirsute. The crab merits not only a new species and genus but also a new family among the crustaceans called squat lobsters. Because it reminds them of the fabled, hairy abominable snowman, researchers informally refer to the creature as the Yeti crab.--S.M.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:ZOOLOGY
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Previous Article:Uncharted territory: ultraslow ridges hold new clues to crust's formation.
Next Article:On a dare, teen advances medical science.

Related Articles
Taking a crab's-eye view of the world.
Crab crackers: scientists take a harder look at stone crab shells.
European crab leaps to Pacific prominence.
Young pulsar has a split personality.
Impact of green crab (Carcinus maenas L.) predation on a population of soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria L.) in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Fallout feast: vent crabs survive on victims of plume.
Comparisons between the reproductive biology of females of two species of deep sea crabs that live in different water depths.
Predation potential of the invasive green crab (Carcinus maenas) and other common predators on commercial bivalve species found on Prince Edward...
Sorry, you lose.
Timing and seasonality of the terminal molt and mating migration in the spider crab, Maja brachydactyla: evidence of alternative mating strategies.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters