First species of Yeti crab found in Antarctica

Analysis of the Antarctic crabs revealed that they were genetically distinct species, according to the new study, published June 24 in PLOS ONE.

A recently discovered yeti crab living near hydrothermal vents in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean dines on bacteria grown in its many hair-like appendages.

The second yeti crab species was brought to light in 2011, just off the Costa Rican coast.

The researchers used DNA testing to determine that Kiwa tyleri was a never-before-seen species of yeti crab.

The species Kiwa tyleri, found in the East Scotia Ridge of the Southern Ocean, is named after world-renowned British deep-sea and polar biologist professor Paul Tyler from the University of Southampton.

Now, 4 years and one expedition into the East Scotia Ridge of the chilly Antarctic later, the latest member of the yeti crab household is right here.

The crab also has hair on its chest or underside. Thus, the Hoff crab. It wasn’t meant to be, though the nickname appears to stay round nonetheless.

Kiwa Tyleri is only 0.5 centimeters to 15 centimeters in length. Also, its entrance limbs are a lot stronger, albeit shorter than these of their warm-water loving brethren.

In search of the new yeti, in 2010scientists piloted a remotely operated vehicle to the hydrothermal vents of East Scotia Ridge, more than 8,500 feet (2,600 meters) deep. Sven Thatje, lead author of the report detailing the animal’s characteristics, called the crab’s home a “thermal envelope” and explained that yeti crabs can’t survive outside the pocket of heated water that surrounds the vents. The Yeti crabs stay in their warm water environment for their lifetime. Nonetheless, its smart adapting system pushed its habitat next to the hydrothermal vents of the region. Its pure white coloring and its hairy body are mandatory features for survival in such an unfriendly environment. Their very restricted environment that is.

Too close to the hydrothermal vents, the yeti crabs risk to boil instantly. The job of female yeti crabs for developing eggs is more of a bravery story, because they bear the cold water for the development of eggs and at the end die. Front and center are the stalked barnacles that also inhabit the hydrothermal vents.

Setae are a magnet for bacteria necessary for the Kiwa Tyleri to survive. When the individuals mate, the larvae seem to need the usual lower temperatures to develop.

Thatje noted another adaptation that is particular to Kiwa tyleri: The crab has “spikes” on the end of its legs that allow it to climb steep surfaces.


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