The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species #12: Yeti Crab


#12 Kiwa hirsuta (Phylum: Arthropoda, Class: Malacostraca, Order: Decapoda, Family: Kiwaidae)


Now imagine doing the Yeti Stomp (I heart Backyardigans!) in the frigid waters of the deep sea instead of the icy north. The Yeti Crab, Kiwa hirsuta, shares the white shaggy appearance with its more well-known pseudo-relative of the snow. Kiwa was discovered in only 2005 from near hydrothermal vents at the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge (south of Easter Island). It was so strange that it constituted not even a new genus and species but who new family of crabs! The name Kiwa hirsuta translates to something like the "hairy goddess of the shellfish".

The "hairs" are called setae and are covered in filamentous bacteria. It is hypothesized that the bacteria detoxify the environment for the crabs. It may be possible that they are farming the bacteria for consumption, but crabs are carnivorous by nature, so this seems less likely, though it may make up a portion of their nutrition.


There is even a strip from the web comic Sheldon involving the yeti crab! He has it right, after the world annihilates itself above sea level, it will be the "hairy eyeless squat lobster" that inherits the Earth. On the contrary, it is quite poetic indeed. Check out this article by the BBC which includes a couple photos of the deep sea Yeti in its natural habitat. Oh, and go ahead and download the paper describing this wonderful creature, its freely available thanks to the authors!

Kiwa hirsuta photo is copyright IFREMER/A. Fifis. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Claw macro photo by J.Y. Quintin, IFREMER, posted at WHOI. -KAZ

Kevin Zelnio (870 Posts)

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