Sunday, January 30, 2011

Creature Feature: Yeti Crab.

Every year, more and more new species are found. Some of these are in unexpected places, like those frogs recently discovered in the Himalayas; others are in places that mankind simply has not poked around in, yet. The deepsea abyss is one of those places.

In our narrow-minded perception, life cannot exist without sunlight. Plants need sunlight, and plants feed everything else; therefore, all life needs sunlight. It makes sense to us on the surface world, therefore we make the sun a god and all that jazz. There's no way that anything else could be the case...right?


It turns out there there is a whole ecosystem that gets along just fine without any hint of sunlight. New organisms are discovered every time we take another look down there. The yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta) is one of the more recent ones.

The yeti crab was discovered in the South Pacific by Monterey Bay Aquarium specialists in 2005. Seen via submarine (the pressure down there kills humans), this crustacean was found along the Pacific-Antarctic ridge near geothermal vents. In surface world terms, this is a couple thousand miles away from Easter Island. The discovery was officially announced on March 7th, 2006. 

Yeti crabs get their name from the furry setae on their legs and pincers. The fuzz contains bacteria that may help detoxify the water around geothermal vents. It is assumed that this crab is carnivorous, perhaps feeding on other geothermal-friendly bacteria, but more likely eating bigger prey.

Just like a real yeti!

Other than that, nobody really knows much about this fuzzy crab; it has only been known to science for a little over four years. Sheldon knows that they will be around for a long, long time to come, so we'll have plenty of chances to learn more. Our surface world seems pretty insignificant now, doesn't it?

Tomorrow: Giant blue earthworms? That sounds like a bad porno.

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